Saturday, May 4, 2013

Scanning Advice?

This summer I am hoping to work at an archive (actually a historical society) where the staff will allow me to scan some documents so that I can work with them from home.  Most of the stuff is printed material, but there may be some hand-written manuscripts as well.

Any advice on the best way to scan quickly and efficiently?  What kind of scanner works best? (I am going to have to buy one). Are there best practices?  Any help would be appreciated.  This is new to me.

10 comments:

The History Enthusiast said...

I use my iPad and an app called Scanner Pro (I think the app cost 5-10 dollars, roughly). The app stitches the pictures together into one PDF, so you don't have to deal with a bunch of .jpg files. It also lets you crop, etc. in the app. The picture quality is not perfect, so it wouldn't be appropriate for publishing, but it works great in terms of allowing researchers to read the sources/reference them.

Elizabeth Motich said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth Motich said...

Dr. Fea,

Since I did a lot of this type of work early in the semester, I feel qualified to comment. It was my experience that most historical societies (at least in PA) don't allow electronic devices or self-made copies. If your archives is willing to allow you to make the copies yourself, then The History Enthusiast's suggestion is a great one.

I took almost all of my document copies home to do research, but I was required to pay for the historical society personnel to copy them. I didn't mind paying since their profits went to support such vital state institutions, but it would be much more convenient to make the copies yourself.

Atlantic History Student said...

I tend to just use my digital camera. At this point, even a mediocre digital camera will give you high quality images. The one problem with this method (something that I don't frequently have to worry about) is that it would likely be harder to turn the images into searchable text as you can do with a scanner. But at the same time, many archives (ex. LOC, HSP, Kew to name a few) will allow cameras but not scanners.

reasonandinstinct said...

I agree with Atlantic History Student. A digital camera is the best option. Last fall on a research trip, I took over 1500 photos. When I got home, I merged the photos for each collection, book, pamphlet, etc. into a single pdf using adobe acrobat.

Bill Harshaw said...

Here's a guide http://uiuc.libguides.com/content.php?pid=6243&sid=39002

The History Enthusiast said...

It really depends on the historical society. I haven't run into any trouble, although I've never done research in Pennsylvania. I've done research at both smaller historical societies and larger ones like the Huntington Library, but I always recommend you check first. The Huntington allowed it--and they are quite strict--but there were certain restrictions and rules we had to follow.

Also, the advantage of this app (if you have an iPad, of course) is that unlike a digital camera, you take the photos in a row, save as a PDF, and only name one file so you don't need to go through and rename a million JPGs. There is also an iPhone version of the app.

John Fea said...

Thanks for the advice everyone!

Seth Dowland said...

One more vote for an iDevice: I use my iPhone and an app called CamScanner (free with ads, or $5 without) to create multipage PDFs. It syncs with dropbox or sends PDFs via email. You can crop & name the PDFs on the iPhone before you send them to Dropbox/email (e.g. 1954 Brown decision.pdf). This has saved me lots of time/frustration.

Katherine J said...

I tend to use my iPhone and Evernote (I did a blog post about it a while back). The pictures aren't framable quality, but I've found they do the job. If you are doing a lot of scanning, I recommend this -- it allows you to easily take multiple shots of the same document and keep them organized together, and creating new notes is not as labor intensive as some of the camera/scanning apps.