Service operators of copy centres in libraries develop new concepts with book scanners as the hub. The equation is: copying equals scanning plus printing.
New copy concepts
"Classic copiers are no longer relevant in libraries"
Make copies without copiers. A matter of course for Jule Pomierski and Harald Herbich from BiblioCopy. Together with their team they operate the two copy centres located on Unter den Linden and Potsdamer Platz on behalf of the Berlin State Library, focusing on a new, customer-oriented service concept exclusively using state-of-the-art book scanners. Their simple equation is: copying equals scanning plus printing.
The Berlin State Library has extensive and partly unique collections, offering an important place of learning and work for scientific research. The new reading rooms opened in March 2013 are located in the building on Unter den Linden and are a prime example of a historical research library. The general reading room alone has 265 extremely well-equipped workstations in close proximity to an initial 130,000 volumes of literary manuscripts, which are to be increased to 290,000 volumes in the next few years.
Copy centres completely converted
The library authorities have high standards of service, further augmented by the convenient use of stocks and online products plus high-quality reproduction facilities. BiblioCopy GmbH is the service provider responsible for the operator concept and, as such, recognises that easy handling and electronic processing are high on the list of needs besides the image result.
The user structure of the Berlin State Library is very heterogeneous. The public, although mainly students who are tech-savvy and want fast, cheap photocopying facilities, also includes international scientists who wish to save their research results and reproductions electronically on removable storage devices, says Jule Pomierski of BiblioCopy describing the challenge.
Many libraries still focus on mixed concepts in their copy centres. Along with conventional copy devices, overhead scanners are also used as additional components for scanning and copying services. Yet, as long as classic copiers are in use, the disadvantages continue to exist. The different document formats mean that duplication is often coupled with complex changes in the settings. Often with unexpected results, either because of an incorrectly recognised format or compressed letters in the book fold. And finally, copiers represent a huge strain on the library collections.
"Classic copiers are no longer relevant in libraries. Book scanners meet both the conservation requirements of the collections as well as the customer's need for a simple, high-quality copy", says Jule Pomierski plainly.
Therefore, as one of the first libraries in Germany, the Berlin State Library executed a paradigm shift in equipping the copy centres: the motto was 'no more conventional copiers, instead a consistent changeover to overhead scanners'.
BiblioCopy developed a coordinated approach for scanning, copying and printing, combining extensive digital services in the self-service and to-order segment with a competent service to meet this clear target.
Modern technical equipment
A temporal challenge
The heart of the technical infrastructure is embodied by 'zeta', an overhead scanner from the Zeutschel series. "We put a variety of different marketed scanners from four major manufacturers through their paces. The main criteria being usability, speed and scan quality, "says Harald Herbich.
The BiblioCopy team were particularly impressed by zeta's operating concept. The touchscreen to the right of the device allows intuitive operation. The user is able to attain the desired result in just a few, logically-structured steps. The 12"-wide touchscreen also presents a preview of the scan. In combination with automatic format detection, bad copies are, therefore, a thing of the past.
The integrated "Perfect Book" software delivers a perfect copy result from the very first scan. Distorted letters in the book fold are straightened and other distracting elements, such as fingers holding the book, are airbrushed out. In addition, the software automatically rotates crooked documents into portrait style. With its compact and stylish design, it aesthetically suits the elegant look of the new reading rooms.
Furthermore, the Zeutschel model gives an extremely 'communicative' appearance. Hook-up to the black and white printer and the account settlement system was easily implemented via the standard interface.
The latter feature was important in implementing the entire project, as scheduling was a major concern.
"The Berlin State Library decided on our operator concept at the beginning of 2013. After a month of intensive tests, there were only six weeks left for realisation. Managing such given time constraints required an excellent working relationship of trust between the library, operator and suppliers" explains Harald Herbich.
But the commitment of everyone involved has paid off: The copy centre on Unter den Linden also opened punctually on 21st March 2013 at the same time as the unveiling of the new reading rooms. In autumn, the copy centre on Potsdamer Platz also started working with the new machines.
Extensive digital facilities
Altogether, library users have 16 Zeutschel zeta overhead scanners to choose from at the two locations, seven on Unter den Linden and nine on Potsdamer Platz. The majority of the equipment is directly hooked up to black and white printers, allowing print copies from books, magazines and other documents. Additionally, all overhead scanners have a slot for USB sticks and a billing terminal.
No provision for other output options, such as sending via e-mail or storing in the network, has been made – for data protection reasons, says Jule Pomierski emphatically:"We deliberately wanted to exclude use of personal data or data theft from the outset".
We calculate 5 cents for a purely electronic copy - either in black and white, greyscale or colour; with resolutions up to 300 dpi and different output formats (PDF, multi-page PDF or JPEG ) possible. Printing-out a scanned page costs 8 cents per DIN A4 page. A special combination deal for scanning and printing costs 8 cents per document page. Using a Follow-Me application, colour prints up to A3 are also planned for special printers. Payment for the copies takes place via the library card. This can also be linked to a copy credit balance.
In addition, the copy centres comply with top quality reproduction wishes - especially from the protected stock.
"We can usually handle scans of photos, images or maps as well as digitisation of documents immediately, so that the digital reproduction can either be picked up at the end of a research day or is made available for download", says Jule Pomierski.
The service philosophy at BiblioCopy is a very important element. Accordingly, the team provides comprehensive advice and support in operating the equipment and managing the settings.
Jule Pomierski: We help first-time users especially, walking them through the many varied options with the overhead scanner.
Paradigm shift is feasible
After almost 1½ years of operation, BiblioCopy draws a positive interim conclusion: "Many people, particularly the younger library users, have been enthusiastic about the offer and have helped one another to use the machines, says Harald Herbich.
Occasionally, we needed to deal with initial operating concerns or overcome people's various fears. These mainly affected users who were only used to conventional machines, he felt.
But the benefits won over everybody in the end. Users were delighted with the certainty of results the machines offered. Bad copies could be reduced to a minimum, saving money and protecting the environment. The foreign library visitors also appreciated the menus in different languages. Zeutschel overhead scanners have operating instructions in 12 languages.
And if there are any questions, there is always one of our team at the service point to lend a hand,
says Jule Pomierski.
Statistically, the ratio of electronic copies and print copies is around 50:50. The combination offer of print-out and storage on a USB stick was especially popular.
And Jule Pomierski also has something positive to say about the running time of the devices:
The overhead scanners are almost always in full operating status. The BiblioCopy team performs standard work for maintenance and service itself. And this is where the good working relationship with the Zeutschel distribution partner, the MIK-Center from Berlin, pays off.
"Our experience shows that the paradigm shift in equipping library copy centres is feasible, bringing only benefits to all participants - libraries, operators and users, sums up Jule Pomierski.