Taking the Records With Me When I Leave
August 9, 2013 5:08 AM   Subscribe

Looking for recommendations on digital cameras, flatbed scanners, and associated technology for use in digitizing written documents during archival research.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow to Technology (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Are these handwritten or typed documents? Loose leaf, folio...? OS preferences or budget concerns?
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:31 AM on August 9, 2013

Response by poster: Likely a mix of both handwritten and typed, and mostly loose leaf. Majorty of my source material will be from ~1920 to ~1941, and held in US Government archives.

PC only, and no real budget constraints (but this is being bought on an individual's budget, not an institution's budget).
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:48 AM on August 9, 2013

Best answer: Oh, so you're not necessarily concerned with preserving say pure photographic fidelity.

That was something that bothered me for a while.

Uhm. So, scanning technology - outside of high end stuff intended for photographs - over the past ten years has suffered from the same sort of commoditization that say, LCD TVs have undergone.

This is to say: they're all pretty good these days. Even the cheapest thing you can find is going to be surprisingly good (ahem, because you're interested in preserving text, and we don't have to have a long conversation over the full range of ways in which shittier scanners don't accurately preserve colour, etc).

So, now your biggest concern is going to be how to streamline the scanning process.

Buy one of those scanners that will start scanning at the press of a hardware button.

Use masking tape to properly align your documents. Scan things in at 600DPI. For loose leaf pages, you're probably going to be A-OK - your pain will commence if you find yourself pressing books against it.

Get a photo editing package and become really comfortable with it - you'll have to be doing a lot of cropping and some contrast adjustment.

For preservation of your documents,

Buy two removable harddrives. Store a copy in each. Store each harddrive in a different house.

Most importantly, print out your scanned documents into acid-free paper.
posted by pmv at 7:08 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

The I-pad is an amazing tool that will best most compact digital cameras in quality. Using it with Evernote can make life nearly worry-free. Unless you are requiring something to make copies for archival purposes with the highest quality then a flatbed scanner makes no sense. Uploading the files to cloud storage with the Ipad will integrate easily with any OS.
posted by JJ86 at 8:48 AM on August 9, 2013

Do you want to try to OCR the documents?

What quantity of pages?

How fragile are the documents? Can you touch them? Can you pass them through a sheet fed scanner, or are you limited to just a straight flat bed.

Will you have network access?

If I were in your situation, I'd look into something like a ScanSnap scanner. (http://scanners.fcpa.fujitsu.com/scansnap11/index.html) which can scan to your hard drive or right into Evernote.

If you go the phone / ipad route, get or build a jig to hold the device. Doing it strictly handheld for more than a few pages would be torture.
posted by reddot at 9:36 AM on August 9, 2013

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