Scannx Company Blog

The Library Of Congress: Preserving Books Through Digital Document Capture Technology

library congress reading roomIt’s transformed television, radio and phones— it was only a matter of time before the digital revolution swept through printed material. Those page-turners you grew up with now possess the means of digital document capture technology, or scanners. With the right scanning equipment, a musty manuscript from the 1800’s can be safely scanned and easily displayed on the big screen for your viewing pleasure.

Some view these new digital technologies as destructive, however, and believe that digitization of historical documents nulls historic value. While this may be true of certain digital document capture technology, there are specific scanners with specific functions that are safe for antique print and help with pristine care.

How The Library Of Congress Digitizes

The Library of Congress has a board of review (Preservation Directorate) that determines which scanning equipment is safe to use for digitization. The famed library houses drawings, graphic prints, manuscripts, newsprint and photographs that have tremendous historic value, so the preservation board thoroughly reviews all scanning equipment before any digitization occurs.

Take a look at how The Library Of Congress lays out preservation rules for scanning equipment. These clear-cut guidelines for preserving print quality should be mandatory for all library technology.

  •  NO Form Feeding Equipment

Just the title “form-feeding” would have any preservation board trembling. Any scanning devices that feature a slot for the printed material should be off-limits to libraries. Most libraries house renowned archives and articles. When you feed one of these aged items through a mechanized rolling device, you damage and alter its original form. Stick to flatbed scanners to maintain the condition of valuable prints, and keep ageless prints ageless.

  •  Must Feature Exposure Settings

When exposed to various elements for a prolonged period of time, photographs severely alter in color and shape. The key culprits of photo deterioration are light and heat. The Library Of Congress only uses scanners with exposure control settings. This way, when digitization occurs, light, color and temperature settings are adjusted to suit the print.

Light – When a photograph is exposed to too much sunlight, or too-intense artificial lighting, staining and/or fading occurs.

Heat – When exposed to heat and humidity, films have the potential to yellow in color and warp in shape

Most scanners have a default “auto exposure” function, but depending on the print, (black & white, negative, color) you may have to adjust brightness, contrast, tone and temperature. You want to make sure your library scanner has these functions, so you are able to cater specifically to the colors and quality of the original print.

  • Must Accommodate Print Size

Printed material comes in all shapes and sizes. The Library Of Congress has document capture technology that accommodates all of them. Size adaptation is especially important for books— consistent stretching of their spine ruins their overall format and character. Make sure your library technology moves and adjusts to various book heights and widths. The goal is to tailor your scanner to the book, not the other way around.

Thanks to the Library Of Congress and their superior preservation practices, valuable printed material is handled with the care it needs. Book preservation basically boils down to using the right scanner with the right functions. Recognize the different forms of print your library offers, understand the value behind them, and do your best to digitize with diligence. The scanning of printed material should never equate to the damaging of printed material. With the appropriate features, scanners greatly enhance the visibility of older documents, while keeping their historic value intact.

Don't let your library get left behind in the digital dust. Join the revolution of library evolution with cutting-edge document capture technology.


Tags: library technology, library scanner, document capture technology, scanning equipment