When the California Historical Radio Society (CHRS) relocated their sizable collection to its new home on Alameda Island in 2014, much of their collection became unorganized, difficult to manage, and confined to storage due to limited space. By partnering with CatalogIt, CHRS was able to accurately reorganize, catalog, and digitize their collection making everything virtually accessible with the added benefit of a labeling system, which includes easily scannable QR codes.
Established in 1974, the California Historical Radio Society (CHRS) is a non-profit educational organization that aims to promote the preservation, restoration, research and publication of early radio and broadcasting history. Over the course of 48 years, CHRS amassed an enormous and continuously growing collection of artifacts, ephemera, and programs from the radio age, including an impressive amount of vintage radios dating as far back as the early 1900s. Despite their surplus of inventory, however, the California Historical Radio Society lacked an essential component for properly maintaining a collection: Storage space.
As an active member of the California Historical Radio Society, Walter Hayden spends much of his time managing the CHRS collection. Having played an integral part in relocating the collection, Walter recalls the storage challenges the organization faced when moving to the 7000 square foot building on Alameda Island 8 years ago. “Unfortunately, using this location for our collection has been quite a challenge because it was purchased in fairly poor condition,” says Walter. “Repairing the building has soaked up a lot of time and money, making it difficult to prioritize the collection as much as we’d like to.”
Aside from issues with the property, Walter added, “during the chaos of our move to the new location, some of our previously documented information was disconnected from the artifacts. If the tags we used to label our items got lost, it became very difficult to identify what information went alongside that piece.”
Thankfully, with the help of CatalogIt, the California Historical Radio Society was gradually able to reconnect each piece with its original information. Taking advantage of CatalogIt’s comprehensive platform, CHRS was easily able to digitize each item in their collection and document the significance, details, and provenance of each one. Cynthia Reinholtz, another dedicated member of CHRS, explains, “We're constantly making decisions regarding how many of one particular type of item we actually want to continue cataloging. One thing that has proven extremely valuable to us is our compact storage, which is where we began our cataloging,” Cynthia continues. “Because all of these items are being stored away, CatalogIt has made it extremely easy for us to view our non-visible items without having to bring them out of storage.” Through the use of their CatalogIt Museum account, CHRS is able to continue collecting, restoring, and displaying all their vintage equipment, both in a physical and virtual space.
Hoping to impart their knowledge and love of radios to future generations, the California Historical Radio Society has also begun to share its collection online through the use of the CatalogIt HUB. Currently, CHRS has published hundreds of items to their HUB profile, making their collection accessible to anyone from the palm of their hands. “What really attracted us to CatalogIt was the ability to publish our collection to the HUB,” Walter says. “Although there are many comparable companies to CatalogIt, none of them could offer us something as modern and affordable as the CatalogIt HUB.”
Aside from the HUB, the California Historical Radio Society was excited by the modern features CatalogIt had to offer. “One of the CatalogIt features that appealed to our organization was a web-based system,” Cynthia explains. “I was really impressed by CatalogIt’s open website, in regards to their instructional videos and extremely responsive IT support that provided us with ideas and suggestions.” In addition to CatalogIt’s intuitive cloud-based platform and helpful IT support, Cynthia was extremely impressed by how quickly CHRS was able to transfer their collection to the new CMS.
The most revolutionary change CatalogIt was able to provide was the ability to produce QR codes for each item in the California Historical Radio Society collection. When CHRS originally began working with CatalogIt, the QR code feature had yet to be made available to CatalogIt clients. After closely working with CHRS, the CatalogIt team was quick to accommodate the organization’s labeling needs. “We worked very closely with CatalogIt’s IT support, especially when we needed some improvements for our tag printing,” Walter explains. “They helped us implement QR codes, attached to the HUB, to our object’s tags. Now, all our object tags include a QR code, a brief description of the object, and the object's identification number. It’s super convenient for anyone to scan our object’s QR code and immediately view the object’s information on their phone.”
Founded by a group of passionate individuals, primarily working as electronic engineers, the California Historical Radio Society strives to provide a forum for exchanging ideas and information on the history of radio and broadcasting. In collaboration with CatalogIt, CHRS is able to bridge the technological gap between generations by easily publishing their collection to the web. Browse the California Historical Radio Society’s collections on their CatalogIt HUB page.