Digital Book Scanning

Ever wonder how a hard cover book gets into digital form for our Digital Special Collections archive?  The process is relatively simple, although there are a few steps involved.  Some of the books and documents in our collection are rare, and while the library will preserve these to ensure they are available to anyone who is interested, digitizing helps preserve them in a unique way so that we can offer them to an Internet based audience.  And this means reaching thousands of people, some of whom may not have access to a brick and mortar library at all.

The process begins with scanning.

Many people have access to traditional scanners, and many may have used them to scan book pages, documents, even photographs.  Scanning is how the digitization begins.  Before we start, however, we’ve got to take a closer look at what the project entails.  A photograph from the first UDM graduating class is easily created on a traditional scanner.  A 350 page yearbook, however, presents a bit of a challenge. For this type of project, we’ll use our ATIZ book scanner.  (Our very own ATIZ book scanner is shown here.)

Scanning a book with this scanner makes our job much easier… and faster!

The most important aspect of any digitization project is image quality.  Images scanned for archival purposes may in the end be the only remaining copy of an important historical event, speech, or record.

When digitizing images, each step is often performed by different people working together on one project:

  • Scanning the actual documents/books/photographs/etc.
  • Cropping scanned images (cropping, resizing, checking for quality, etc.)
  • Editing cropped images (checking for quality, tweaking the final image, etc.)
  • Uploading finished images to the Research portal for archiving and public access
  • Adding metadata (information concerning the images) prior to making the images publicly available.
  • Archiving (filing /storing) and backing up the final digitized materials (original images are archived or “saved” separately from the public area of the portal)

Viewing and handling images contributes to their degradation over time.  Having electronic copies, then, doesn’t just make the content easier to access, it helps preserve the original by allowing us to store the original images sealed away from the damages that the environment (light, oily fingers, air, etc.) can cause.  Our preservation of these important records offer students, scholars, and researchers access to a bit of history they may not otherwise have.   In this way, we’re able to help connect the past with the future.

Come visit our digital collections!  We’d love to share them with you.