Scanning Documents at Your Library
August 28, 2012
Scanning technology has arrived at many of our MCPL Branches and with it, a bit of confusion about exactly what can and cannot be done with a scanned image. Many of our customers have valuable documents, like resumes, in printed form and need to digitize them in order to email them or upload them to a website. Our scanning machines (copiers and scanners) will do that by scanning the items and turning them into a .jpeg or .pdf file.
The confusion – and disappointment – comes when the customer wants to be able to edit or update the scanned document. Our scanner technology (and most scanner technology) is basically taking a digital picture of the scanned document. So the digital file (.jpeg or .pdf) that is created is not editable; it’s simply a static digital image of the original. You can copy and paste or insert a scanned document into a program like Microsoft Word or Publisher, but it treats the scanned document as a single object, like a picture, and the individual text cannot be edited. The only way to create an editable digital document of that printed page at the Library is to re-type it in Word, which can be done on our public Internet computers. This will not only create an editable version of the document, but the file size will be much smaller than a scan, which may exceed the file size limit for uploading to a particular website, causing additional problems and headache.
Is there any scanner technology out there that would create an editable document out of a scan? Yes. There is a family of scanning software called Optical Character Recognition software. These programs scan the document in a way that makes it editable and searchable. (Database companies have been using this technology to digitize huge amounts of print resources into searchable content suitable for database use.) Here is a webpage with a brief overview of the technology and a comparison chart of competing products (MCPL does not endorse the website or the products therein).
Happy scanning everyone!
North Independence Branch