Preserving History in the Digital Age

Gloria in the office in the 1980s.

When board member emeritus Gloria McNeely joined the Museum’s board in the 1980s an electric typewriter was the latest technology being used for Museum business. By the 1990s, through her advocacy, the Museum upgraded to using a computer. When Assistant Director Cristy Lake started with the Museum in 2006, the Museum had just purchased its second computer which is still in use today as our scanning workstation, eight years ago we purchased our current main computer and several years ago purchased two used laptops for additional volunteer workstations.

Technology is always advancing and computer systems need to regularly be updated and replaced. It is time for the Museum to update its computer systems to a more advanced server system rather than using an individual computer as a server and workstation. Our current system is outdated and no longer meets the needs of the Museum nor the expectation of our visitors.

We were fortunate this spring to be able to request funds through a grant program through the Snoqualmie Tribe to purchase a server, new workstation with video-editing hardware and software, a camera with tripod, and a projector.

The Snoqualmie Valley Museum has been growing its digital resources over the last 15 years. Staff and volunteers have been digitizing our photograph collection, photographing our objects, converting our card catalog cards into the PastPerfect database and inventorying our collection so that we can make our collections publicly accessible online. This has been especially vital over the last year with the pandemic. The Museum was closed to interior visits for over a year but has been able to continue to serve visitors by having material available digitally. We updated our website and are adding more and more materials online, while our Assistant Director kept the Museum operating behind the scenes, answering research inquiries even when we could not have visitors in the building. We now are again reopened to the public.

Volunteer Vaugh using 15 year old computer and even older scanner to digitize photos.

We now have 8TB of data and each year we are adding additional materials. But, our computer system needs to be upgraded. We are using an eight–year-old computer, which has crashed twice recently, leading to the loss of some data. This computer acts as both a server and a workstation. It acts as a file server for our volunteer workstations. It acts as a workstation for our Assistant Director Cristy Lake.  It often plays both roles concurrently, causing everything to slow down to an unworkable speed. Because it was designed to be a standalone computer, it cannot support the demands now placed upon it.  Additionally, it has only 2 TB of disk space so our main records are being stored on external hard-drives which increases the risk of losing information if any of these drives fail.

We do not have video capabilities and even though we would like to create videos and host online meetings and programs, we don’t have that capability at the Museum. We have been able to participate in some meetings using Cristy’s personal cellphone, but this does not provide the quality we would like to offer and is not easily available for others to use.

When the computer crashed two years ago we asked several computer experts to recommend an adequate replacement. This is the basis for our grant request. We would like to purchase:

  • A file server that would hold all of the Museum’s data and allow workstations to access it without going through the staff workstation.
    • Storage

The server would hold 12TB of data and back up the data up on a second set of 12 TB drives to protect it if the first one were to crash. The 12 TB will allow for additional storage space as we expand, but, additionally, the server can also have extra drives added to increase storage capabilities in the future.

  • Performance

Designed for concurrent use, the server will be able to support all volunteer and staff workstations simultaneously.  With its responsive file handling and improved network bandwidth, the museum staff and volunteers will no longer encounter unworkable speeds.

  • A new workstation for museum staff that replaces the 8 year old computer
    • Video

The workstation would provide video-editing hardware and software. Additionally, it would provide hardware to support on-line meetings.

  • Documents

The workstation would also provide the software for creating PDFs and other documents to support the Museum’s online presence.

  • Performance

The network bandwidth provided by this new workstation would also address the problems with unworkable speeds that are encountered with the current computer.

  • A camera and tripod that will allow us to create videos.
  • A projector so that we can hold programs that feature power points and videos and add visual elements to meetings.

We are pleased to announce that we can now move forward with these upgrades thanks to a nearly $13,400 grant from the Snoqualmie Tribe! We look forward to sharing the outcomes of this technological upgrade in the weeks, months and years to come.

Please join us in thanking the Snoqualmie Tribe for their generosity and for partnering with us to preserve and share the history of the Snoqualmie Valley for future generations.

To learn more about the Snoqualmie Tribe please visit SnoqualmieTribe.US.