Library & Archives Updates

The construction crew lifting one of two HVAC units for the Museum.

SDASM Preserves Unique Research Collection For Future Generations

The Museum's Library & Archives houses one of the most significant collections of aviation related research material in the world, and is recognized as the third largest collection of its kind in the United States. The Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.

The Museum’s archival and special collections include significant San Diego based company collections, such as that of Consolidated Aircraft Corporation, Ryan Aeronautical Company, and Pacific Southwest Airlines; collections of aircraft builders and designers, including Ed Heinemann, George Hallett, and the Thomas Brothers; and those of famous aviators, such as Jacqueline Cochran, Helen Richey, Charles Lindbergh, Richard E. Byrd, and Bernt Balchen. These one-of-a-kind collections include important correspondence, photos, documents, film, newspaper articles and books.

As the collection has continued to grow dramatically, precious archived records must now be stored in five remote rooms within the main Museum site, and at two off-site locations, all with limited environmental controls. Because of this collection expansion, the Museum has developed a space-saving plan for all of its collection storage areas, and is installing customized and mechanically operated shelving in its Film Archives, a project funded by Las Patronas and the Parker Foundation, two local philanthropic organizations.

Preservation of these important collections is a monumental, ongoing challenge, and, as this precious resource expands, so does the need for facilities needed for proper preservation, both for current researchers and those of future generations. This ongoing preservation challenge is significantly compounded in that the Ford Building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This designation requires that special approvals be solicited before significant modifications can be initiated, such as the installation of a much needed heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC).

After developing a comprehensive plan based on the recommendations from preservation, engineering, and facilities management consultants, the museum has begun installation of a HVAC system in six of its collection storage areas. In 2010, with the generous support of the Ryan Family Charitable Foundation, and a large number of individual contributions, the Museum successfully raised $90,000 to complete the HVAC project, which is expected to be completed by June 2011. This system will maintain the temperature and humidity level which is best suited for long term survival of this priceless resource. This system will not only protect archival materials, but curatorial collection storage rooms which house other important artifacts.

The Museum is embarking on a fundraising campaign to fund additional renovation projects to improve all of the Museum’s collection storage areas. Upgrading these areas will not only improve the physical spaces, but it will also allow for better organization and retrieval of the Library and Archives’ valuable materials, particularly as it continues to catalog and digitize many of its important collections. This effort is expected to improve our space utilization efficiency by over 200 per cent. The L&A’s continuing digitization projects, along with its online catalog, are providing the public with access to more and more of its important assets.

Digitization Update

The digitization of the photos, films and videos in the Library and Archives continues at an incredible pace!  Over 115,000 images have been digitized and have been placed on the Library and Archives page: Thus far, these images have received well over 2 million views.  In addition, the Museum has been asked to contribute to the Flickr Commons, where such prestigious institutions as the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian highlight their collections.  By having our images included in the commons, we expect that our images will receive even more views and comments.  In addition, with the aid of generous Library patrons, the Museum recently purchased a machine which can digitize our vast collection of 16mm film.  We have started to digitize these rare films, and are placing them on our Youtube channel: In a few short months, we expect to have several hundred films and videos posted on this youtube site.


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