Digital Library Hardware Showcase

McCormick Place West, W-180 Digital Library Technology Interest Group

Truly, I vote this the presentation most likely to make libraries say, “Hey, I think I will outsource my scanning to Clemson University”. Loving care is evident in the selection, installation, and use of their equipment.

Put on by the Digital Library Technology Interest Group

Tricked us by putting business mtg. first–Good Idea! Call to the floor–what ideas do you have for programs for next year. No answer–she will try again.

Mike 8:00am–we need an idea 51 weeks before the next ALA. Program developed from specific types of hardware into “how to set up a scanning center”

Emily Gore and Mandy Mastrovita from Clemson University. Emily says: North Carolina was late in starting a statewide cooperative for digitization. They divided the state into 4 regions, and they have a lab to scan for libraries.

Brief overview of what you need to ask if you want to scan:

Budget, staffing, expertise, facilities adequate to house equipment?

What materials? Precious and rare?

Would you consider outsourcing?

Clemson had about $100,000 for equipment, much from a grant. Knew they had to get at least one full-time librarian to manage the scanning project. She combined the IT staff with the digital project staff–because she knew that they could scan.


Had no space for a Zeutschel A0, needing 8 foot or more. Settled for a “Better Light” and a different room. In the basement. But it had no outside lighting. But it had nasty flourescent lights so they use another ambient light source. It gets hot in there, though.

Selected materials, they expected to do their large maps, manuscripts, photographs and negatives, and expected to scan those. Did not expect to scan bound materials which other large digital projects including Google would have covered already. (Note-They have Strom Thurmond’s pajamas.)

However, lots of libraries in the area have bound items, including old country store ledgers, etc. that have value that they needed scanned. Scrapbooks. Yearbooks. It’s a donor relationship thing. You scan what they give you. They would like another solution for bound items. So do you outsource that? You should always think about that first thing and approach it as a hybrid solution.

Disadvantages of outsourcing

You are removed (can’t change or adjust in middle of process)

Is it an experienced vendor?

Contracts need to be set up prior which clearly articulate needs from the beginning.

Disadvantages of in-house

large investment–especially because each type

retooling staff-complex skills to be developed.

difficult to set prices per digitized/encoded items.

$2.00 per item to scan–there is a difference between archival quality scanning & what some vendors will offer.

Mandy, Digital Production Librarian, will now offer specifics:


multi-platform, some programs work better with Macs, Better Light is really designed for use with Macs. However, most of library is a PC shop.Batch processing programs are on PC.

(Server-ContentDM) Dual/side by side comparison monitors are set up because lots of comparisons must be made.

Task Lighting, Ott lights make it look a little creepy, but daylight balanced.Redundant central storage with campus IT, and local RAID 5 attached drives.

Fave Scanner:

Epson Expression 100000XL, probably is THE scanner in use. read area of 12.2×17.2, negatives and doc feeder available can scan up to 100 pages at time.

Also a Kodak iQ3 scanner, and can scan glass plates, transparencies and negatives. But has not been as good in terms of support and software upgrades. But is a fast and beautiful machine, with templates to arrange your negatives, 4×5’s, etc., and you can cut templates yourself with an Xacto knife.

The setup of their lab for large format scanning was labor intensive, but just like Christmas, and an engineering student did some of the setup, and their qualified vendor set up their HID copy lights. The tripod itself was just under 8 feet. It fit, whew.

A very heavy crossarm, weighted–they had to pad that with some bubble wrap to prevent injury.

For shooting on the easel, they are using a parallelism tool, the Zig-Align to ensure focus across the plane of the image.

They highly desired a Planetary Scanner for bound items. Currently they use the Bookeye and the Zeutschel. She likes the Bookeye with its hydraulic lift.

You do still need to deal with analog film. But younger students may not understand negatives, or have even ever seen it–really, it is supposed to be backwards and reverse. “Us old folks had to chuckle.”

Q &A –

What about using LCD instead of CRT?

They do a lot of color calibration with cards, and take care.They try to move forward, and the LED monitors are quite good with color matching, new Mac monitors are coming out. Mandy: “The IT person in me says, O God I don’t want to see another CRT.”

Part 2

Better, cheaper faster, or down and dirty Evaluating Consumer-Grade Digitization Equipment

Danielle Cunniff Plumer
Coordinator, Texas Heritage Digitization Initiative
Texas State Library and Archives
Consumer electronics–the stuff you can buy at Best Buy and Wal-Mart and are idiot proof, under $500
Prosumer Electronics, more expensive, between low-end and high end, buy online, $500-$5,000

Professional grade, over $10,000, purchase direct from vendor. This is not the stuff you see in SkyMall.

Are you scanning for preservation or access qualities?

What are your available resources, including hardware, software and STAFF.

cost of proposed solution divided by benefits of proposed solution=cost-benefit.

A Tale of Three Scanners

In places they say: “My IT Department wanted me to buy this scanner.” (for $179.99) but that is not right for a digitization center.

Look at the technical details. Do not interpolate. Pixels for free!

One for $657, 48 bit color, larger format maybe for “access quality” scanner.

The Epson Expression is the only one that anyone is seriously considering and is available for about $2,400. 48-bit color, 16-bit b&w. 2400x4800dpi resolution. You may not use it, but you will wish you had it.

Camera Mount or 3 dimensional. Heavier is BETTER. It should be hard to move. Manfroto makes some prosumer grade overhead camera mount and lights. What kind of camera? Prices have come down and we are getting there on quality. She has a Canon Digital Rebel XSI and purchased better 50mm lens. Full-frame cameras will be more expensive, and the concept is relatively new in the digital world. These cameras may not be right for preservation level, because many of these don’t get up to the baseline of 400ppi recommended for archival–so something as large as an original which is 11×17 may only give you access grade images. Also, these all have CMOS sensors.

Bound item scanning-A Consumer grade alternative!

Plustek Opticbook 3600 Plus A4 Book Edge pdf OCR Scanner. For around $350, this scanner will work for ‘Bread and Butter’ scanning for access grade.

The benefits of outsourcing.

Large format, maps–someone who specializes in a type of format can give you a cheaper per unit cost than you can do yourself, or than a scanning generalist can do.


  1. Steve McCann

    Excellent writeup of a very good session. Kudos to the organizers on this one. One thing that really stuck out for me was the presentation by Danielle on “pro-sumer” cameras. She converted megapixels to PPI equivalents and then compared the various flavors of the Canon digital SLRs. For an 8×10 original the 21.1 MP Canon Mark III camera (at $5,500 for body and lens) will still only manage 468ppi. That’s fine for preservation right now, but many standards are moving to 600ppi for preservation quality image capture. (I’m thinking of the BCR CDP Best Practises.) Using an Atiz system with the Mark III you could easily spend $24,000 for a system that can not attain an image capture higher than 500ppi. I’m looking forward to the slides in order to verify these numbers.

  2. Mike Bolam

    Great write-up Melissa. I think you really captured a lot of the good points. We’re working on getting the powerpoint slides online and will post here when they are available.

  3. Emily Gore

    Thanks for the write-up. We are happy to work outsourcing deals – give me a call! 😉 One small correction – Clemson is located in South Carolina and is part of the South Carolina Digital Library. North Carolina was actually one of the first states to have an organized statewide digitization project.

  4. Mike Bolam

    The slides from these presentations have been uploaded to the ALA Presentations site:


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