First- I congratulate you on your desire to preserve and share this important information. Well done!
This is a valuable project. It is feasible. It is affordable. It needs to be done.
Now, let’s look at the hard parts and consider some suggestions on how to turn this massive project into a pretty easy one.
You should not waste the time to scan all this stuff. Your contribution should be organizing and identifying the material, sometimes called “finding aids” which briefly list what is in a group of documents, their apparent or confirmed origins and a few key words that researchers hunting for this material might use. These would be more or less “cover letters” or table of contents, or “previews of coming attractions” and unlike hard copy printed books, you could do a simple paragraph or so to get started, and then revise and expand these later and simply substitute the new improved finding aid or summary for the initial one. You could probably find several IAA members to assist with these. It would be good to try to standardize somewhat on format so that someone using the whole collection could find their way around.
As an example of a professional, highly detailed finding aid, here is one from the U.S. National Archives dealing with the records of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance. It has some good examples for general organization, and what would be nice to include in a perfect world. In the world where volunteer ammo collectors live, it would probably be far less detailed, and initially be only a rough outline.
There are commercial outfits which scan documents into .pdf documents for a nominal cost and do the OCR conversion to make them searchable. Several years ago when I had the entire series of IAA Journals scanned the cost was something between 5 and 10 cents a page (10-20 pages for US$1.00) but I suspect that more places are doing it now and prices may have dropped. Let the professionals do this instead of you buying a scanner and wasting years doing it yourself!
I would recommend that IAA consider hosting the completed files on the IAA website “Members’ area.” This is primary reference material along with secondary material from some important people in the field, and well worth preserving and sharing. The cost for hosting material on line is unbelievably cheap. Let’s see if the IAA Webmaster has anything to say about this, or if he thinks the IAA Baord needs to approve something.
Frankly, the IAA financial position is pretty good these days, and in my opinion paying all or part of the cost of digitizing this material would be a worthwhile expenditure. At the prices noted above $1,000 would cover scanning something like 10,000-20,000 pages of material. I bet that individual members would contribute some money for this project, or we could see if the IAA benefit auction proceeds might be dedicated to this project for a year.
Again, this is a valuable project. It is feasible. It is affordable. It needs to be done.
It does not need to be done all at once. You could start with the smallest group of papers and do that with rough finding aid and get it to the webmaster for posting. Meanwhile, you could be having all the other groups of the material scanned and when you get a chance create rough finding aids for those to be added when they are done. You can go back and improve the finding aids as time and volunteer help permits.
Remember, scanned documents can be moved around and placed in different order or folders if you decide later it makes more sense that way than whatever “top of the pile” sequence they are when sent for scanning.
Start by calling some local places that do “document scanning or conversion” or similar terms and get some cost estimates.