Case study

British Library counts on scanning technology “Made in Germany”

Digitization of historic stock with 22 overhead scanners from Zeutschel, the Tübingen-based company in Germany.High image quality with up to 600 dpi optical resolution and up to A0 formatCurrent project: 40 million pages from the historical newspaper archive

The British Library is using German scanning expertise to digitize its valuable books, manuscripts and journals. Twenty-two scanning systems from Zeutschel, the Tübingen-based company in Germany, have been tasked with carefully and efficiently scanning the historic documents in the digitization center of the library – https://www.bl.uk/digitisation-services/bulk-digitisation.

Open documents are placed onto the scan surface of the so-called overhead or book scanners and scanned from above. The Zeutschel scanning systems are currently being used in one of the world’s largest journal digitization projects. The purpose is to make a total of 40 million pages from the British Library’s newspaper archive available to the general public via the internet. In addition to its own projects, the British Library also uses the Tübingen scanning technology for contract work from other organizations and institutions.

Focus on digitization

The British Library is one of the largest research and universal libraries in the world. It has set clear strategic priorities until the year 2020. The aim of the British Library is to ensure that future generations can have unrestricted access to the library content, that library media can be used for research purposes by anyone and that the global exchange of knowledge continues to grow.

Digitizing rare and valuable materials no longer subject to copyright is a key measure in achieving these goals.Equipped with the latest scanning and image processing technology, the digitization center of the British Library is providing the means for this. The center has 22 Zeutschel overhead scanners, which “ensure the highest image quality, offering scans up to 600 dpi optical resolution and which can process materials up to A0 format,” states the British Library.

Historical newspaper archive is digitized

The Zeutschel scanners showcase their performance capabilities in the ‘British Newspaper Archive’, a project for digitizing the library’s historical newspaper archives. The archive is a unique collection of local, regional, and international journals dating back to the early 16th century. Containing a total of 600,000 bound journal volumes, the archives fill 32 km of bookshelves. Part of this is now to be made available for private and scientific purposes. At present, 21 million pages are available on the Internet at http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/ and can be searched using keywords, place, date or title. A further 19 million pages are to follow.

According to the British Library, the costs of purchasing the Zeutschel scanners has paid off. The equation is: “Investment in processes and equipment equals image data of the highest quality.” Thanks to the Zeutschel overhead scanners, some of the rarest and most delicate journals in the collection were able to be digitized. “We have even scanned individual pages wider than 60 cm,” says the British Library in describing the project.Since it has such high-end equipment, the British Library is also able to offer digitizing services. All told, more than 30 million images have already been digitized for other organizations and institutions.

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