This week at the city’s committee of the whole meeting, executive director of the museum Astrid Heyerdahl presented council with their Shaw TV digitization project which outlined the on-going efforts being made to digitalize Nelson’s historic archives.
In the presentation, Heyerdahl highlighted the importance of the project in order to preserve Nelson’s history.
“We have hundreds of years of newspapers and thousands of photographs and thousands of documents. We’re looking to digitize these materials before they’re lost.” she says.
“Be it paper that deteriorates, or audiovisual material that deteriorates, we need to do it [digitize] quickly so that we can hold all this material for posterity and ensure that generations and generations in the future can look back at Nelson not only now, but 100 years ago and more.”
Heyerdahl said the digitization project has presented some unique challenges.
“It has been exceptionally challenging. The audiovisual formats we have are very old now. We have VHS, Umatic, Super 8, reel-to-reel and the machinery that plays those formats are obsolete and so fewer and far between.”
She said not only is the machinery expensive, but maintenance can be costly as well.
“The machinery availability is really hard and then if anything breaks down, it’s exceptionally challenging to be able to fix it, and finding local expertise has been hard.”
“We have some local experts but some of the individuals that hold that information, are not around or can’t always volunteer,” says Heyerdahl. ”We’re trying to bring on new individuals that we can train on these old technologies but there is a cost involved.”
The Nelson Museum and Archives received a $500,000 grant from the province’s Destination Development Fund earlier this year and Heyerdahl said it has helped cover some of the costs.