Deciding what to digitize.
Scanning works best for flat objects and books with bindings that lay flat. You can achieve high resolutions that show details difficult to view actual size. Scanners with a greater depth of field (distance from scanner glass that is still sharp) can scan books and artifacts that do not lay flat or are three-dimensional. Be sure to clean the glass regularly. I have been using an Epson Perfection 1650 scanner which has good resolution, scanning speed and is fairly quiet when used in a Library. I recently purchased an HP Scanjet 4670. It is an innovative design that allows you to place the flat scanning stage on top of artifacts and see through the glass stage to accurately position each scan. It has a very narrow depth of field and poorly designed scanning software but cannot be matched (at consumer prices) for scanning large flat objects.
Scanning Resolution, dots-per-inch (dpi), refers to the number of digital representations (pixels) per inch of the original. Computer screens roughly display 75-100 pixels per inch. Magnification or printing require higher scanning resolutions. For archival quality, you should scan at 300-600 dpi and save the files in tiff format. Original photos and negatives require higher resolutions to capture their higher quality. Store in multiple locations (hard disk, CD, DVD, tape backup etc.). For limited budget projects, you should decide whether a high dpi but compressed format is acceptable for your purposes. Formats such as jpg have high compression ratios (smaller file sizes), but lose some information every time you save them.
Digital cameras can digitize three-dimensional objects but, except for the most expensive cameras, do not have the resolution of a scanner. Cameras in the 3-5 mega-pixel range may be useful for some projects. Use a tripod and experiment with focusing distance and lighting. Quality film cameras have high resolution but require a separate high-resolution scan in order to digitize the image. You will need a film scanner or a flatbed scanner with a transparency adaptor. Inexpensive scanners, even with a transparency adaptor, generally do not scan small negatives and slides at a very high resolution.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
Add identifying information to an image using a graphics editor. Editors such as Adobe Photoshop, Macromedia Fireworks and Deneba Canvas allow you to overlay editable text, arrows and other graphics. If you save a copy in the editor's native format, you will be able return to it and continue editing the information.You can create simple animations using the animated gif format. You can create presentations by importing images(frames) into a presentation program (Powerpoint, Impress), video editor or animation program (Macromedia Flash).
For more information:
An excellent site for tips and detailed information on the scanning process is Wayne Fulton's scantips.com website and book.
There are a number of digitization projects on the web that are good examples and include information on the project itself.
Cleveland State University
Special Collections - Cleveland
Library catalogs and searchable digital collections:
Cleveland Public Library System
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