I Spy With The Bookeye

Greetings from the Scanning Suite here at St Andrews’ Special Collections, home of our two Bookeye scanners –including our brand new Bookeye 3 colour scanner!– and the three Reprographics Technicians who operate them.

The new Bookeye 3 colour scanner, ready to scan the 1910-1911 volume of the St Andrews Citizen.

Here are a few notes about our operation. The bulk of scanning fulfils a contract the University holds with Tanner Ritchie Publishing, the Canadian outfit behind Medieval and Early Modern Sources Online, or MEMSO. A quick scroll down the Recently Published list on the Tanner Ritchie homepage reads very familiar to us here as every e-book listed on the site has come through our hands. Most of the books are from series of British records, such as the 17th century Journals of the House of Commons, the seemingly innumerable volumes of Calendar of State Papers from various times and places, and the more specific series of documents such as the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland.

The Calendar of State Papers on the shelves of the Main Library.

The value to researchers of having a digital version of such volumes, with text searching capabilities, is hard to underestimate… and a good thing to remember when we scanners are editing the thousandth page of seemingly indistinguishable lines upon lines of dates and place names! Indeed, for us it is not so much the content as the physical properties of the books that we consider first: the regularity of the print, the state of the binding, the size of book, the fragility and smoothness or waviness of the pages and even the fine relief caused by certain typeface all influence the complexity of the scanning task.

In other instances, however, the content of the material to be scanned is impossible to overlook, and indeed we scanners, like the Reading Room staff, are in the fortunate –and yes, sometimes challenging– position of coming into contact with a vast array of the material held in Special Collections. When we are not scanning material for Tanner Ritchie we process the myriad of requests that the department receives for reproductions. These requests range from scans of pages from books and manuscripts to large-scale maps and newspapers. The breadth of provenance and reasons behind consultation and reprography inquiries are only matched by the vastness and diversity of the collection itself: requests come from the neighboring buildings and from across the globe, from students, academics, hobby genealogists, amateur experts, and professionals in publishing, tourism, development.

Surprises and delights often await, as you may gather from the images in the gallery below. Enjoy!

Iris Papaemmanouil

Reprographics Technician

6 responses to “I Spy With The Bookeye

  1. Fascinating stuff Iris. The new machine appears to be meeting expectations. Could this not be a regular feature of what is already an excellent post.

    • Thanks for reading and for your good words, Joe! We are indeed hoping this will become a recurring feature, so do keep posted. –IP

  2. yes, please show us who does this marvelous work. Great stuff, thanks for posting!

  3. Pingback: “You’ll Never Be Grumpy if You Do Your Motoring in a Vauxhall”: the St Andrews Citizen 60 years ago « Echoes from the Vault·

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