Friday, August 5, 2011

I Love the ST BookScan Center system

I went to the Carlsbad Georgina Cole Library last Saturday (it's in Carlsbad, California in northern San Diego County) to browse in their Genealogy library (the entire second floor) with ten of my Chula Vista Genealogical Society colleagues (it was an all-day research trip).

The highlight for me was using the ST BookScan Center book scanner to copy pages from books and periodicals as digital images onto my USB drive.  This book scanner is FREE to use at Carlsbad Library!  [Note that the alternative was to pay 15 cents a page on the photocopy machine]. 

Here is an image of the ST BookScan system:

For books with spines (like in the image above), you put the page edge right on the edge of the scanner, and the page to be copied is almost always flat.  Sometimes I had to support the book with my hand so that it did not slip.  The USB drive is inserted into a slot in the front of the unit, and can be brushed by a hand if you are not careful.

Using this system is really easy and fast, even faster than most photocopiers, it seems.  When you've scanned all of your pages from a document, you can add the scanned pages to your USB drive - either as individual pages (in JPG, TIF, PDF format, or in Microsoft Excel or Word formats) or as a multi-page (PDF, Excel or Word) document.

You can see the full description and capabilities of the ST BookScan Center on their website (

I copied 127 pages from this unit from several family history books and many periodicals at 300 dpi.  Each image was properly rotated for readability (by the scanner) and cropped to the size of the page copied (by the scanner). I titled each set of pages appropriately. 

This is an awesome library tool that saves time, money and paper for the researcher.  The librarian said that the ST BookScan Center cost $6,000, so it is not something that most people will buy for  their genealogy cave.  However, if you want to convert as many papers on your bookshelf to digital format, you are advised to find one of these systems to do the job at a library or repository.

I was surprised that only one other person used the system in the five hours I was there, and that was a library staff person.  Surely, that will change over time as more researchers realize the potential of this system and digitize their book and periodical notebooks.

1 comment:

Elizabeth O'Neal said...

How cool is that? Very forward-thinking of the Carlsbad Library, especially at a time when so many libraries are reducing hours, services, books, or worse... closing.