Scanning for Digitization Projects: Making Good Scans Means Doing More Than Just Pressing Buttons. If You Understand What Software to Choose, Which File Formats to Use, and What the Specifications Really Mean, You Can Create Digital Images with Optimal Quality

By Wentzel, Larry | Computers in Libraries, March 2007 | Go to article overview

Scanning for Digitization Projects: Making Good Scans Means Doing More Than Just Pressing Buttons. If You Understand What Software to Choose, Which File Formats to Use, and What the Specifications Really Mean, You Can Create Digital Images with Optimal Quality


Wentzel, Larry, Computers in Libraries


Librarians and archivists find themselves facing the prospect of digitization. Everyone is doing it, everyone needs it. Discussions rage nationally and internationally concerning what to digitize and the best means to present and retain digital objects. Yet newcomers may seek answers to simpler questions. What is digitization? What does digitization equipment do? What do digitization standards mean?

Digitization is the act of making something digital, expressing a physical object "in numerical form, especially for use by a computer" (The American Heritage, 2000). In the similar manner that paintings express landscapes and faces through colored pigments, digital files represent objects as numbers. It is, to misuse a phrase, painting by numbers.

Why should an object be represented by numbers? What is gained by doing so? The aim of expressing an object in numbers is that it can be stored and manipulated by computers. Computers are number crunchers, performing millions of calculations per second. By digitizing an original and placing a digital copy of it on a computer, the file can be manipulated, transferred, and stored with ease. Storage and distribution are the primary factors behind the national push for digitization. Storing a numeric or digital representation of photographs on a CD takes up far less physical space than the boxes and photo albums stored on shelves. Being able to access digital copies of material across the Web allows patrons greater access to the content without increased wear and tear on the original.

Understanding the Digitization Equipment

Digitization equipment--such as flatbed scanners, digital cameras, and digital audio/video recorders--generates digital copies of physical objects. Flatbed scanners are, in short, desktop photocopiers and they are mostly mechanical devices. (1,2) A lamp moves slowly across the face of the original. The lamp shines light onto the original, and the reflected light is focused through a series of mirrors and lens onto the recording medium. In flatbed scanners, the medium is a compact light sensor, either a CCD (charged coupling device) or CIS (contact image sensor), each of which is composed of hundreds or thousands of elements. When light strikes each element, the intensity of the light is assigned a number. The numeric reading of light intensity and element position are recorded in sequence into a file, which forms the digital version of the original.

Additional hardware can enhance the scanning process, but does not affect the basic function. Transparency adapters make it possible to digitize slides, negatives, and transparencies. Rather than reflecting light off the surface of a transparent original, a transparency adapter shines light through the original and onto the CCD/CIS. Automatic document feeders increase the speed of the scanning process by handling the placement and removal of paper originals from the glass plate, reducing the delay between scans. The downside to automatic document feeders is that the originals must be loose (in the case of books, pages must be disbound) and able to withstand the physical stress of being run through the feeder.

Regrettably, manufacturers of consumer-grade scanners also adorn them with buttons displaying icons for email, photos, text, and the printer. Pressing each button activates a preset scanner setting, causing the scanner to scan an original and format it for email, pictures, text documents, or the printer. These buttons make the process of digitization easy; they remove any need for the scanning technician to understand the process. Push the button, it's made to order. Unfortunately, none of the buttons installed on flatbed scanners are preset for "digital archive" quality. In order to get the quality recommended by the Digital Library Federation (www.diglib.org), scanning operators need to understand what the buttons do and how they can do it better.

The Scanning Process

While the flatbed scanner does the actual digitization, the device has no understanding of what operators want for output nor does it store the files or perform alterations. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Scanning for Digitization Projects: Making Good Scans Means Doing More Than Just Pressing Buttons. If You Understand What Software to Choose, Which File Formats to Use, and What the Specifications Really Mean, You Can Create Digital Images with Optimal Quality
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.