It was clear to the Society Officers this past year that the Societies ability to provide traditional member services was greatly diminished. The decision was made to migrate to a manageable online model. The lack of volunteer resources also made it clear that something had to be done with the Society Archive. While It had been centralized at the Akron Global Accelerator more than three years ago, it was not organized in a user friendly manner. Most were unfamiliar with the Archive contents or how to access them. So, while the collection was finally in a central Akron location, it was seldom used.
This past fall, several options were explored with respect to placing the collection at an outside archive facility. We consulted with other railroad historical societies who have similar needs and who had conducted similar facility evaluations. The decision was made to place the Society Archive collection with the University of Akron (Archival Services). For those who are unfamiliar with this resource, UofA has an excellent facility in downtown Akron (the former Polsky department store). Our reasoning / justification was also based on UofA's current AC&Y record holdings, donated to UofA when the AC&Y was still an independent Akron based railroad. We are also assured the UofA Archive is focused on holding collections which are central to Akron's history. The AC&Y collection fits well with this mandate. Provisions in the agreement allow the Society to review materials that might not fit these criteria.
In early January 2014, we began the process of relocating the collection (thanks to all who helped with this transfer). About 85% of the collection (approximately 70+ boxes) was moved over a ten day period. It was more a challenge than expected. I'm satisfied that it will be well cared for, accessible, and provide those who have interest a first-rate research resource, both for study of the AC&Y / A&BB and the industrialization of greater Akron. More-so, the transfer to UofA meets the understanding I had with Norfolk Southern in the original release to the Society... that the collection eventually reside within a professional archive repository. We still have remaining work with our extensive image collection and other materials, most historically significant and with great value. In particular, the image collection needs to be better cared for and reconciled.
Lastly, there are remaining Society funds that will be designated for specific enhancements to the collection. We will continue to discuss these common needs with UofA and will update the forum on status of this historic collection. I'll be glad to answer any questions as they are posted. Bob Lucas
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