First in the Nation: TTU Libraries Acquire High-Speed Book Scanner

The Texas Tech Libraries’ has announced the purchase of a state-of-the-art book scanner that will drastically change the way personnel archive the world’s information.

Written by Michael Castellon

DATE: Nov. 28, 2006
CONTACT: Michael Castellon, michaelcastellon@gmail.com
(806) 742-2136

LUBBOCK – The Texas Tech Libraries’ has announced the purchase of a state-of-the-art book scanner that will drastically change the way personnel archive the world’s information.

The BookScan APT 2400, manufactured by Kirtas Technologies Inc., a leading provider of digital scanning solutions, was funded in part with a $130,000 grant from the Lubbock-based Helen Jones Foundation.

It is the first of its kind to be purchased by a university in the United States.

The $200,000 piece of equipment allows personnel to scan case-bound books in minutes instead of hours, speeding up the digitization process – one of the library’s objectives in its push to provide access to scholarly works via the Internet.

“The average individual scans books at a rate of about 100 pages per hour,” said Greg Barnes, digital projects coordinator at Texas Tech Libraries. “The Kirtas scanner cradles the book, automatically turns the pages and captures text and high-resolution images, graphics, photos, charts and engravings exactly. The machine’s proprietary software then cleans up the images and the integrated OCR makes the images more usable by adding full-text search capability. The process is more delicate than the touch of a human hand.”

The robotic Kirtas scanner turns book pages with a vacuum head, delivering puffs of air that lift and separate pages. Books are secured on a cradle that uses laser technology to maintain focus for dual, 16-megapixel cameras that capture high-resolution page images in color. Because it uses picture technology rather than scanning technology it operates faster than it’s scanning counterpart, said Barnes.

Library faculty, staff and students will be trained to put the scanner to work on a growing list of digitization projects that will bolster Texas Tech’s online resources for students, faculty and researchers. Starting with more than 14,000 thesis and dissertations dating back to 1928, the bound documents will be digitized and formatted with high quality imaging, two pages at a time, and up to 2,400 pages per hour. The machine also includes optical character recognition (OCR) capability to enable full text searching.

“The impact of this machinery is both dramatic and immediate,” said Donald Dyal, Ph.D, dean of libraries. “Of course, it makes it much less tedious for people who must now turn each page to scan a volume. Do the math and you can see the benefits in labor costs and time. But, the larger implication is that it allows us to ramp up our efforts to preserve materials quickly and to make them readily available to patrons via the online catalog—beefing up Texas Tech’s position as a major player in the propagation of scholarly works across the globe. The Helen Jones Foundation clearly saw the value of this new capability and we are grateful for that.”

The digital initiative began in 2004 when administrators saw the need to replicate physical holdings for preservation purposes and to make out of copyright materials accessible to offsite patrons such as Texas Tech distance learning students.

As a founding member of the Texas Digital Library (TDL), which includes Texas, Texas A&M, and the University of Houston libraries, Texas Tech’s library system is making its institutional archives available electronically through the consortium. As TDL membership grows, the state’s public and private university’s are ensuring that the unique collections of member schools are widely available to anyone with a web browser. Digital categories called Metadata are added to each item, allowing searching by keywords, contributors, added titles, and other significant access points.

“We want this machine to be running 24-hours a day—seven days a week,” said Dyal. “The less downtime the better; there is certainly enough work out there to keep it humming.”


CONTACT: Jeff Whitley, director, Texas Tech Libraries, at (806) 742-2236, or jeff.whitley@ttu.edu.