By MATT RAYMOND
The Library is a place of superlatives—the biggest this, the first that—and now the institution has added another one to the list that will be a great, free benefit to patrons and Library-wide staff in the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room and off-site.
Mark Sweeney, chief of the Serial and Government Publications Division, along with assistant chief Teri Sierra, recently unveiled a newspaper-size scanner that is available for use by readers. According to book2net, the company that makes the scanner, it is the first and only one of its kind in the United States—and so far the only one at the Library. There are others in Canada at two other locations.
The machine, originally designed for use in the reading rooms of the British Library, was manufactured in Germany. It can capture a JPEG image of an entire newspaper page—or comic book, folio, book or bound volume, among others—in 0.3 seconds. It needs only 1.9 seconds of cycling time to scan another page.
The scanner has a touchscreen that allows a person to view details close-up, and all it takes to scan a page is a touch of a single button. Full-color images can then be easily saved to a USB flash drive. Sierra said the mechanics are so simple that it would take only a couple of minutes to show a patron how to use it.
“We have had microform scanners for public use in the reading room for the past three years. Our microfilm is our most widely circulated collection in the reading room,” said Sierra. “The book scanner is pretty much a continuation of our intent to provide services that our readers will appreciate.”
The equipment also fills a gap for the Library’s off-site researchers: Upon request, staff can scan images on-site and then simply email them.
“It is a pretty exciting piece of equipment that will move our reading room and services to our readers into a new dimension. So far, only staff has used it, but they are all very excited about it. I am sure once readers catch on, it will be heavily used,” said Sierra.
Sierra also said an added benefit is that it easily captures text on creases in pages or in places where tight binding prevents traditional copying. Of course, the machine is not suitable for fragile or crumbling materials and physical size of materials needs to be considered. And, it is not intended for archival purposes, as it does not have the ability to generate metadata.