Patron Scanners and Preservation – Part Two

Home for Children
The Home for Children, St. Goin, France. One of the digitized records of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee scanned by Crowley Imaging for the Harvard Divinity School Andover-Harvard Theological Library.

How today’s libraries are embracing technology for those walking in the door and those searching the internet

Last week, on the cusp of the annual American Library Association Mid-Winter Conference and Expo, we began a conversation about the relevance of libraries and their embrace of today’s technology. As a library vendor, we see two distinct trends taking place: the increase in patron scanners (sometimes called “walk-up” or “on-demand”) on the library floor and the growth of digital archives found online.


In Part One of this blog series, we examined two patron scanners – the Wicks and Wilson UScan+ universal film scanner, which is manufactured by The Crowley Company, and the Zeutschel zeta book copy system, of which Crowley is the exclusive North American reseller. Both of these units are gaining popularity and afford patrons the opportunity to forego traditional copiers and to save or send their “copies” electronically. No more dog-eared, coffee-stained or lost papers. In addition to making research easier for patrons, these units help libraries cut costs with lower toner, paper and maintenance fees and by reducing the damage to, and need for replacement of, various media. (In short, the book spines don’t break, the pages don’t fall out and the microfilm lasts longer.)


Another key component of library relevance can be found in special collections and the sharing of information. We’ve become so expectant of immediate information via the internet that we rarely, if ever, take the time to wonder about the source of this information. In many cases – particularly as regards historical information – the information comes from a special collection or library archive.

Let’s say you’re researching your family history and you’re seeking old newspaper accounts, school records or yearbook pictures. Where do you look first? The Internet. Millions of images from newspapers and records can be found online and many have been digitized from library collections. Archive-quality Zeutschel and Qidenus book scanners are used in libraries and service bureaus across the world to digitize newspapers and loose documents, which are often bound in volumes. In other instances, high-volume microfilm or microfiche scanners such as the Mekel Technology MACH series or the Wicks and Wilson Scanstation series are used to digitize pages that have been archived on microfilm. In still others, large volumes of adoption, motor vehicle or medical records may hold the key to your research and have been scanned on a document scanner such as an InoTec. Regardless of the equipment they’ve been scanned on, if the images are online, they came from a collection and someone took the expense, time and effort to provide them to the public. And if you can’t find your research online, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist; it may just mean that it hasn’t been scanned yet. (In which case, go back to Part One and darken the door of your local library to use those lovely patron systems).

Often times, if a library cannot afford one of these production-level scanners or if staffing is at issue, they may have a grant to scan or archive a specific collection or series. Service bureaus, such as Crowley Imaging, then scan and process the images for the library to post and host online.

Two such recent library collection digitization examples from Crowley Imaging are the microfilm scanning and indexing of the Carroll County Times from the Carroll County Public Library (Maryland) and the digitized holocaust history records of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee for the Andover-Harvard Theological Library (Massachusetts).

Quickly peruse the digital collections of the Library of Congress and it’s easy to understand the relevance – and significance – of libraries to our past and our future via the wealth of information they can offer whether you walk in the door…or through an internet portal.

Interested in Digitizing a Special Collection?

The Crowley Company offers a wide variety of scanning and archiving equipment and digitization services. If you’d like information on the best possible solution for archiving, digitizing and sharing your historic collection or information records, please contact our imaging professionals at (240) 215-0224 or comment below.

General inquiries can be emailed to [email protected]. You can also follow The Crowley Company on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube.

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