Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Do-It-Yourself Book Scanning

One of the biggest expenses that archival repositories and libraries have to deal with is the expense of digitization. Options include renting a Scribe from the Internet Archive or partnering with Google to digitize books in your library. For archival repositories, high-quality planetary scanners cost just as much. All of these options have their problems and so a community has arisen to try and develop do-it-yourself replacements for these scanners.

The primary community for this is the aptly named DIY Book Scanner community. Their goal is to create book scanners out of parts that can either be scavenged or easily purchased. The County of Brant Public Library in Ontario, Canada, has created a book scanner out of a dSLR camera and three-panel presentation boards (like the ones used by science fair projects). They are currently using the scanner to digitize, among other things, large ledgers. The quality that they get out of their scans, which you can see through the previous link, is impressive. On the DIY Book Scanner site, there are a plethora of designs, ranging from the cheap and easy to build all the way up to impressive and professional looking scanners.

Other members of the community are trying to build portable scanners to take into archival repositories and use them to quickly take pictures of materials that they need for their research. This is more problematic, for a variety of preservation and copyright reasons. But what do you think of users trying to democraticize the digitization process? Are there any circumstances under which you would allow visitors to set up a portable digitization stand at your repository? And would you consider building your own DIY Book Scanner for use at your own repository?

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