I just ran across a video in which an automatic book scanner was presented. It was amazing to see how fast this machine works. Digitization of libraries will sure be faster with such a machine. Furthermore, I think the automatic page turning is less invasive than a person turning the page because there won’t be any dog ears etc., but I do not have proof on that.
Curious as I am, I checked out the website of Treventus, the company producing the book scanner to find more information and actual images of scanned in pages to determine whether the scanner was a good idea. I couldn’t really find any, but the photos showed a setup at the Munich Digitisation Centre of the Bavarian State Library. As this is one of the largest libraries in Germany and has a cooperation with Google to digitize its collections, one can be sure that the quality of the produced scans is good to very good.
Digitized books of the Bavarian State Library can be found here. And I assume that a great number of books (maybe most likely the “Latest additions”) have been scanned with the automatic book scanner. The quality of them is really good.
I am still not very fond of reading books or even longer articles on a screen because I can still not make comments etc. like I am used to when reading on paper. But having the opportunity to print these scans is of great help because old books do not see so much wear as if they were handled by library patrons. Of course, it is a completely different feeling if you hold in your hands a freshly printed copy of a 16th-century book or if you actually touch the book because with the first one you miss all the history of the book, the smell, the texture of the pages, the finely hand-crafted cover etc. However, you are on the save side and don’t have to be afraid of ripping a page or dropping the book accidentally. Furthermore, you can read it anywhere you want and not just under the watchful eyes of a special collections librarian.
But, what do I have to do with 16th-century books? Well actually, nothing really because my field is rather 21st-century educational technology. However, eventually, also the books in this field will be digitized and made available online. Or maybe publishers will provide libraries immediately with camera-ready books as many books are now submitted electronically thus making the scanning process unnecessary.
ScanRobot- the automatic book scanner (Sorry for the small display of the video. The dimensions are set correctly, but not displayed as they should be. 🙁 )
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