The Redstone Scientific Information Center will cease operations and convert to an online library model effective Sept. 30.
The library, which now falls under the Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center, provides access to a catalog of aerospace engineering-related books, journals, and technical articles for government civilians and contractors who work at or for organizations at Redstone Arsenal and Marshall Space Flight Center.
Access to the current online system and its subscription-based online journals will continue after the library closes. The site will transition to its new home by January. A “virtual RSIC” with Redstone-relevant technical documents will become available at a later date.
“RSIC has served as Redstone Arsenal’s hub of scientific and technical information for 57 years, becoming one of the best sources in the country for information on rocketry and aeronautics,” Juanita Christensen, CCDC Aviation & Missile Center executive director, said. “However, as missions and resources change, RSIC must become more streamlined to meet the information needs … as we move forward under the Army Futures Command.”
Part of those information needs includes a digital archive of technical papers and manuals of current and past missile and aviation systems.
RSIC was “one of the early adopters of an online catalog back in the mid-1990s,” Greg Sturgeon, CCDC Aviation & Missile Center lead librarian, said. “What we’re doing is essentially just adopting that model.”
Technical documents include reports for programs and project updates on anything developed or worked on at Redstone in its history, including original reports on the Redstone, Jupiter and Nike missiles. Sturgeon calls them “technical historical” documents: documents with historical relevancy, but too technical to go in a historic archive.
According to Sturgeon, the goal is to create digital copies of those nearly 260,000 documents and make them available to DOD civilians and contractors on Redstone Arsenal by June 30, 2021.
He cited the Comanche program, an Army attack helicopter program that was canceled in 2004. When the office closed, RSIC received all its documentation. Sturgeon said those are included in the digitized files.
“I look at that as getting something back from that program. You can say the Comanche program failed, but just because one never flew, doesn’t mean the work itself isn’t valuable (and) that there’s not something in those files that you can’t use today,” Sturgeon explained. “With Future Vertical Lift coming on board, they’re going to … move forward, but they can go back to these older programs – these older technologies – and take something from that and build on that. So, the fact that we have all these files from a program that doesn’t exist anymore, there’s still something worthwhile to be taken out of that.”
RSIC accepts government technical information on a case-by-case basis, but not office files or commercially published items. The library also assists in submitting any materials of historical value to other history offices for review. Any disposing of items will fall under records retention policy.