Preserving automotive history, one image at a time
In an unassuming low-rise building on a side street in Naples, Florida sits the Revs Institute. The Institute, which is open to invited scholars and guests, houses a collection of fully restored historically significant automobiles, as well as a library containing images, books and ephemera. Since the images are carefully stored, many as negatives, a large number of them may not have been seen since they were taken. Up until now, this entire collection was housed under one roof, one large hurricane away from being damaged or lost.
We haven't yet figured out how to digitally preserve automobiles, but digitization of the large and unique image collection of the Revs Institute is underway. Working with Pixel Acuity and the Revs Institute, over 100,000 images representing over 1 terabyte of data have been digitized and preserved in the Stanford Digital Repository (SDR) in just over a year since the project began. The Revs Digital Library website, built on top of SDR by engineers in the Stanford University Libraries, allows users to search and view all the images. The website is currently available only to members of the Stanford University community.
Each image can be viewed at full resolution using the zoom and pan controls familiar to users of Google Maps. Collections can also be browsed or viewed in a slideshow format. Next we plan to engage the automotive community by adding tools to help improve the metadata, thus adding additional value to the collection.
The initial internal launch of the Revs Digital Library is an important milestone - not only does it ensure these images will be preserved for the future, it also makes them readily available to scholars in the Revs Program at Stanford for research purposes.
But the work is only beginning. Over the next three years, along with additional tools and features, another 300,000 images are expected to become available in the digital library. And the history of the automobile will continue to be preserved for future generations.