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One Machine, 2.6 Million Pages

With over 125,000 books in Bookshare (see post), where have they all come from? During our last maintenance call for our in-office scanner, the technician couldn’t believe that we’d scanned over 2.6 million pages with this four-year-old machine.  We couldn’t believe it either.

A headshot of Carol James
Meet Carol James, the head of the Collection Development team

While more and more publishers are providing us with digital copies of their books to convert, we still do a healthy amount of processing content the old-fashioned way – chopping and scanning a physical book.

Visitors to our processing offices are invited to “feed the beast” – under the watchful eyes of our scanning staff – and chop off the spine in our industrial chopper. The machine hasn’t eaten any finger tips for lunch; it’s impossible to chop without both hands on the controls. The spineless pages are then fed through our scanner, page by page.  We don’t feed them

the Bookshare chopper
The beast that devours book spines.

one by one; this scanner devours pages at the rate of 90 pages a minute. A long textbook with slippery paper will take a little longer, as much as forty-five minutes to scan, with a staff member nearby to help with misfeeds.  (One of our staff finds it particularly useful to sing to the scanner in Korean!)  We may need to scan textbooks with several lightness settings to accommodate different colors and contrasts of printing.

Old paperbacks with crumbled edges and disintegrating glue, thick anthologies with tissue-thin paper – our scanner rises to any occasion – with a little coaxing!  Long may it gobble pages to bring you the reading you need!

Then add the uncounted, huge number of pages scanned by volunteers and you’ll have an idea of where some Bookshare books come from.

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