Monday, December 26, 2016

Visit to Scanarkist in NYC

Image from Wikimedia
Last Monday, I had an opportunity to visit Scanarkist, which is both a digitization service bureau and an authorized business partner for Treventus Mechatronics.  They are also a sales partner for the Bookeye and WideTek scanners from Image Access.  It was the Treventus ScanRobot that I had come to see and I also got a peek at Nainuwa and other software solutions.

Scanarkist had exhibited at the IFLA conference in August, where a number of digitization vendors had their equipment on display.  While I had seen the equipment at IFLA, it was good to have an opportunity to sit down with them.  (I must thank my schedule which placed me in NYC walking distance from their location.)  I want to note a few things from that visit:
  • ScanRobot 2.0 MDS:
    • The ScanRobot can scan up to 2,500 pages per hour.  Watching it work, this page count seems quite do-able.  (I say that because often the count is based on optimum conditions, etc.)  
    • It will scan with very little human interaction, although they recommend having someone nearby in case the ScanRobot detects an errors (e.g., flipping two pages at once).  In  service center, I believe a person could watch a couple machines at once.
    • The 60° V-shape book cradle means that it is gentle on a book's spine.
    • The machine uses prism capturing technology, which creates an undistorted image.
    • The machine is on wheels and can be moved between locations or taken into the stacks.
  • Nainuwa (software):
    • The Nainuwa will handle a variety of different media, including images from the ScanRobot.
    • It is possible to search within a document and then use information displayed to go directly to where the search term is mention.
    • A part of an image and its OCR content can be copied and pasted.  While this is a useful feature, it can be associated only with specific types of users if copyright/ownership is a concern. 
    • Content can be zoomed and bookmarked. Bookmarks can be organized so you can retrieved related images.
    • The software has a responsive design, which means that it works on a wide variety of computing devices.
  • Other software mentioned were:
    • Scan Gate
    • Scan Flow
    • Customized tools
So who needs a book scanner these days?  Not everything that should be digitized has been digitized, even when it comes to books. Yet not everyone can purchase a book scanner which costs over $100,000.  Institutions with limited budgets - or institutions who need to scan books but don't have enough materials to warrant their own book scanner - need to be able to partner with someone. That partnership would allow for the purchase of an automated book scanner, which could then be shared.  I can see the Treventus - or similar technology - as a consortial purchase.  In fact, we have consortia who are sharing software and equipment already. They may not, though, have thought about a hardware purchase like this because of its cost.  Justifying the purchase would be important, as well as knowing that the consortium would "get its money's worth" or be able to sell the equipment once they are done (as a way of recouping some of the cost).

By the way, Scanarkist will lease the ScanRobot.  We did not talk about what that meant in terms of cost, but it sounds like an option that could ameliorate some of the cost concerns.

Finally, it was wonderful that several vendors were at IFLA and were able to bring their equipment.  I don't think it is clear to vendors, though, which conferences they should attend and why.  Clearly they cannot go to all of them. And any conference will pitch themselves as "the place" to be.  I wonder if there is a place for library vendors to receive unbiased advice on where to exhibit?

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