VTLS Inc., The Princeton University Libraries, and Princeton's Computing and Information Technology Department are working on a joint project to scan the libraries' public union card catalog, containing 6.5 million 3x5 catalog cards, to create a database of digitized images. The database represents 1.75 million titles acquired and cataloged before 1980, predating Princeton's library automation and online catalog. Initially, the image database will not be integrated with the libraries' online catalog, but will work in conjunction with it. The 6.5 million images represent the largest image database created in a library.
The project is planned in several phases. In the first phase, already completed, library staff analyzed the card catalog and enhanced the guide cards to create an index for the database of card images. In three months, 65,000 index points were created. In the second phase, beginning this month, VTLS Inc. will use single-sided scanners, located on site at the Firestone Library, to generate digital, bit-mapped images of each card in the catalog. Princeton staff will monitor the process for quality control, using workstations to view statistically significant samples of the scanned images.
In the third phase, which will overlap the second, VTLS will develop an interface for the display workstations--540 computers running NEXTSTEP for Intel Processors--to be used by library patrons and staff for browsing the database of card images. VTLS will use NeXT Inc.'s NEXTSTEP object-oriented development environment to build the graphical user interface. The NEXTSTEP operating system was selected because of its multimedia and client-server capabilities, and because NEXTSTEP enables the rapid development and deployment of this "mission critical," custom application, as compelled by the continuing deterioration of the catalog cards. Using the NEXTSTEP-based interface, users will browse a hierarchical index tree to retrieve, view and save card images; library staff will also edit scanned images, using graphics software. Initially, 40 display workstations, powered by Intel 486 processors, will be located in the Firestone Library and at all branch locations where there are now card catalogs.
In a later phase, optical character recognition (OCR) will be used to convert the digital image of each card to fully tagged and indexed records of text in standard MARC format such as those found today in Princeton's online catalog. …