The Shape of “Qool”: Qidenus V-Shaped Book Scanners
Editor’s note: This week’s blogger is Crowley marketing assistant, Camily Bishop. New to the industry, her insights offer a fresh perspective.
Archives are timeless. The digital imaging industry is not. Companies seeking to stay at the forefront are changing shape, adapting to and creating new technologies constantly. To keep us on the edge, Crowley hardware, imaging, marketing and support specialists regularly receive in-depth training on the latest scanning innovations of the company’s manufactured and distributed brands.
This week’s training session focused on the Qidenus Technologies 3.0 book scanners: the Smart manual, Mastered semi-automatic and Robotic automatic models. As a relative novice to these sessions, and a non-technical one to boot, I found this session particularly interesting (and not just because Qidenus breaks all the spelling rules).
One of the first topics covered in our session was the differences in this next-generation series. Boiled down to the basics, these new models are more affordable and take up less real estate. Watching a demonstration of the Robotic system, I was struck by the simple design lines of the unit and the fact that it was always lit, but never got hot (a product of the LED cold light illumination). What I found most intriguing, however, was the shape and action of the Qidenus cradle.
THE CRADLE’S THE THING
For nearly a decade, Qidenus has manufactured book scanning solutions centered on the principle of “conservative and appropriate treatment of the originals.” This belief is manifested in the design of a combined V-shaped book cradle and glass plate technology. The 3.0 series’ V-shaped cradle has an adjustable spine, which protects original materials by limiting the pressure put on bindings when a fragile book is opened more than 100 degrees. The anti-reflection glass plate, also V-shaped, eliminates text and image curvature during scanning without damaging the pages. On both the Mastered and Robotic models, when the glass plate lowers down, the sides of the book cradle steadily fold upward so that the pages meet the glass – sometimes not even making actual contact. I could easily see how the lack of pressure on the spines and pages would be important to a conservator.
DON’T JUST WALK AWAY
During the session, one of co-workers asked a question we were all thinking: “So, what’s the benefit of a fully automatic system?” My assumption of the answer was speed, but it wasn’t that simple. First, it’s about speed and material protection: the Qidenus Robotic system uses a page-turning apparatus shaped like a human finger. In addition to high throughput, the technology eliminates the possible page trauma and dirt/dust introduction that can accompany a vacuum turning system. The other benefit of automation is that one operator can manage multiple systems at the same time. Like everything else, though, the operation requires common sense. It’s against best practice – even with an automated system – to simply set up a job and walk away. With rare and fragile collections, it’s a requirement to be diligent when scanning.
IT’S ALL ABOUT CHOICE
During the demonstration, we were shown how simple it was to switch between manual, semi-automatic and automatic operating modes on a single unit to suit the needs of an individual task. In the manual mode, the operator turns the pages and pulls down the glass plate before capturing the image. In the semi-automatic mode, the operator manually turns pages, but the glass plate operates automatically. What’s very “qool” about this [I’m coining a new Qidenus phrase], is that the light barriers sense when a hand is removed from the scanning area, enabling the glass plate to lower and the cameras to capture automatically. Like the robotic system, the Mastered semi-automatic system can switch to manual mode when needed.
Bells and whistles aside, the definition of success for any scanner is final image quality. What we saw on the scanned samples during the demo convinced me that the Qidenus systems deliver in this category. Much of the image sharpness, I learned, is due to the two CCD array cameras (similar in appearance to a high-end digital camera) angled to allow point-and-shoot capture of all pages. This includes the scanning of front and back book covers, which other V-shaped models with a single 180-degree camera cannot capture.
Every collection is unique and many materials have distinctive qualities which cause difficulty for standard scanning equipment and processes. These qualities could include disintegrating bindings, landscape formats and no or very tight margins or gutters. Qidenus has extensive experience working with clients to customize solutions, as seen in this quick video report.
Sofie Quidenus, managing director and CEO of Qidenus Technologies, and technical project manager, Dominik Ilk, show two examples of custom solutions for the Royal Library of Denmark and the Austrian National Library.
ALL THE ‘QOOL’ KIDS DO IT
It’s only “qool” if it works. According to these Qidenus clients, the 3.0 series lives up to expectations.
One of Hungary’s largest service bureaus, Arcanum uses two Mastered and one Robotic 3.0 book scanner to digitize collections from customers such as the National Library of Hungary and the City Archives of Budapest. Arcanum CEO Sandor Biszak notes that, “The Qidenus book scanner was the machine [clients] trusted with their valuable and irreplaceable materials.”
The University Library of Heidelberg in Germany also purchased a Mastered book scan 3.0 to digitize cultural heritage materials and rare collections from a repository of over three million books and manuscripts. “The small opening degree of the book cradle and the smoothly moving glass plate give us the needed certainty [of gentle handling] because many fragile books are involved in our digitization projects,” states library director Dr. Thomas Wolf.
The renown of the Qidenus book scanners has traveled beyond Europe and is edging into the American market. Apart from the U.S. clients that have purchased Qidenus scanners for use on their own projects, Crowley Imaging has recently implemented a Robotic unit in our service bureau operations. “We’re looking forward to using this system for a variety of rare collections” says project manager Andrew Fertig. “The Qidenus scanners are a great complement to the flatbed scanners we operate, particularly for books with fragile bindings and tight gutters.”
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