As one year ends and another year begins, many clubs and organisations are happily enjoying a break, celebrating and preparing for the upcoming sporting season, school year or activities. Schools are preparing classrooms, curriculum and equipment for the pending arrival of small people, Churches are recovering after the Christmas crazy-time, and Sporting clubs are working out who their members are, what teams they will be on, their uniforms, and refreshing the lines on the playing surface.
Something that all of these establishments have in common, and it is something that is usually overlooked, year after year.
Preserving their history.
Some establishments may not be very old, or think that no one would be interested in their 1970s team photos. Others may look at the task and think “This is such a monumental task, I’ll put it off until next year”. The other most common reason that this task is overlooked is money. It is often thought that preserving and digitising the entire history of an organisation is something that will cost the club tens of thousands of dollars. However, that is not necessarily true.
I would like to discuss each of these issues in-depth.
No one would be interested in our 1970s team photos
Every photo was new at one time. The only reason that they still exist today is because someone had the foresight to keep it safe. They preserved it for whatever the reason, and now, it can be observed and enjoyed by anyone who knows where to find it. Usually this would be the members, or others associated to the club.
That photo of the 1974 C Reserve team might not seem that ‘historic’ right now, however in 50-100 years, that photograph might be the only record that someone’s great grandfather played local football. It might be the only record that they won the Grand Final. It will probably be the only record of the rather interesting haircut he had back in the day.
This is such a monumental task, I’ll put it off
It may look like a monumental task, and it might even be as big as it looks. But every year, this project gets bigger, not smaller. Every year that passes means that the older items get a little bit more fragile, a little more damaged and potentially, a little more faded. Digitising the older items could mean the difference between saving them for future generations, or losing them forever. Digitising photographs will stop them ageing further (the digital copies, at least) and can enable digital restoration, essentially reversing the ageing process that has already occurred.
As for the ‘monumental’ scale of it all, often a project like this can be broken up into smaller chunks. Photographs. Documents. Log Books. Sorting it into chronological order, and starting at the oldest years, moving forward. Every little chunk completed will make the larger chunk a little smaller. Starting with the older items means that the items most at risk of being lost forever can be preserved.
Some clients that I have completed work for have asked for chunks spanning 30-50 years at a time, meaning little by little, it is all preserved.
We can’t afford it!
It is true that this type of project can cost a bit to complete. However, if it is addressed in smaller chunks, this can become several smaller costs, rather than one single, bulky amount. Another factor to consider is that most organisations are eligible to apply for grants. I have created a page on this website to highlight some local grants on offer, as well as some fundraising ideas that might be useful for your particular organisation.
In addition to this, I offer a comprehensive quote before proceeding with any work, as well as incremental updates as work proceeds if the client requests this. There is no obligation to proceed once the quote has been provided, and if you decide to only do part of your history, or even just a single photograph, I am still able to supply a new quote that reflects this. Every time you chip away at the ‘monumental task’, the task gets a little bit smaller.
The best part about getting everything digital, apart from preserving it for future generations, is that it allows the original items to be placed in a suitable archive, removing the ongoing risk of it being handled incorrectly, damaged whilst being viewed or simply lost due to it being misplaced. It also allows the digital version to be shared with multiple people at the same time, either via your website, secure network or even email. If the records are typed, OCR is performed, allowing them to be searched. A PDF file document consisting of 400 pages can be searched for a name or phrase in mere seconds, rather than having to thumb through it and hope you don’t miss the information being sought.
For photographs, any known information, including dates, names, team, location, and even the photographer’s information is placed into the Metadata, allowing the user to search for a person by name. If Bob Smith played in the 1949 C Reserve team, searching his name will bring up that photograph, as well as any other reference in other photographs, documents and records etc. It streamlines the research process for club historians, as well as making it far easier for administration staff to share vital or relevant information with members of the public, members or even for compiling information for the next anniversary black-tie event.