What’s the right book scanner to get for a library? The answer to that question depends a lot on who will be using the scanner, how often, in what capacity and in what budget. But there’s no doubt that a scanner for digitizing books is a crucial tool in any modern library.
What features to look for in book scanners for libraries?
In recent years phone apps for scanning books have become more common so many people simply scan books on their phone instead of going to the public library. So if you’re getting a new scanner for your library it’s a good idea to get a scanner that actually brings extra value that a phone app can’t provide.
There are a variety of different factors you will need to consider before buying a book scanner for a library that will be useful for users.
This might be the most important book scanning feature. You will want to look for a scanner with OCR technology. OCR is a software feature that recognizes symbols and characters and processes them into a readable document by computers. That way your scanned document can be searched for example. Read more about OCR technology here.
Easy to use software
With some book scanners you get a built-in software and with some you can change the software you work with. Try finding out which book scanning software you wish to have and find a scanner that is adjustable to it. A good software is user-friendly, intuitive, easy to use, works fast, with all file formats and most importantly has OCR.
Many scanners offer a range of functions, including scanning, printing, copying, and faxing to name a few. This can save you money (and space) in the long run if you opt for a machine that can offer impressive functionality.
Library scanners will likely be used with more than just one computer, so you will need to ensure you opt for one with good connectivity and compatibility.
The majority of book scanners come with a USB connection. However, a wireless scanner that has WiFi or Bluetooth connection can be incredibly helpful in a library.
In addition to this, a scanner software that is compatible with both Apple And Microsoft computing systems.
Scanners can be a very pricey piece of equipment, so you will want to ensure you check the warranty of a scanner before you purchase it to ensure that you’re covered should something go wrong.
Quality of scanned images
It’s important to have a scanner that can produce high quality scanned images.
And resolution plays a key role in that. It’s very important when choosing a scanner. Regular documents won’t need a DPI higher than 600.
However, if you’re also scanning photos, then you might want to choose a scanner with a higher DPI otherwise you could end up with grainy images.
You don’t want to over-complicate the scanning process. Opting for a scanner with a simple and compact design will make the process easier for users that aren’t familiar with scanning.
In case that you feel a portable scanner will be handy you should consider one of the handheld book scanners we have on this list.
Lighting can ruin many scans, so it’s important to get right. Manufacturer’s often boast about the amount of LEDs their scanners have. Typically speaking, LED lights need to be around 10 times brighter than the sources that can cause shadows or glares and ruin scans.Overhead scanners come with built-in lighting and in combination with natural lights and library lighting, that should be enough. If you plan to scan in a closed room with an overhead scanner, an extra light source might be necessary.
Page turning detection
Page Turning Detection is a feature in the scanner that recognizes when a page has been turned and automatically begins a new scan. Some book scanning brands have it but definitely not all of them.This is a super helpful feature when it comes to scanning multiple pages in a book continuously. It can save a lot of time and effort. All you have to do is keep flipping the pages.
Book flattening technology
Book Flattening Technology is designed to scan over the bumps and bevels found in a book, so there are no shadows or distortions in the final image. It also help with amending the angle between the scanner and the book page to look straight.
What types of book scanners for libraries are there?
We have a full list of book scanners that we found to be qualitative, fast, easy to use, and reliable. But not all types of book scanners are suitable for a library and therefore it’s important to first understand the different types from which you can choose from.
Flat Bed Book Scanners
Flatbed book scanners look like the typical scanners most of us have at home or at the office.
Scanning a book with a flatbed book scanner is a bit of a struggle because every time you want to switch a page you need to hold the flatbed up, turn the book up-side-down, flip the page and reposition the book. This could be fine if you’re scanning one book, but if you’re planning on scanning bigger quantities this type is not ideal.
Overhead Book Scanner
An overhead book scanner has an overhanging scanning camera and a flat surface to place the book on.
These types of book scanners are probably the most commonly used in libraries because they are easy to operate and they deliver great results.
Since there’s no lid, flipping the pages can be done with no hurdle, you just need to turn the page. Some new models even have a ‘Page turning detection’ feature that scans a photo automatically after you flip the page. You don’t even have to click the ‘Scan’ button.
A-shaped book scanners
‘A’ shaped book scanner is basically one where the shape of the scanner is like a rectangle pointing up and you place the book on top of it. To scan you simply place the book facing down on top of the scanner and click ‘Scan’. Turning the pages is a bit of a drag.
These types of scanners are more suitable for private home uses. They are comfortable to use and they don’t hold much space. But they are not ideal for scanning big quantities.
Handheld book scanner [Portable]
Handheld book scanners are like a “scanning stick” and you use them by holding them down on the top of a book page and then pulling them downwards to the bottom (can also be done side-to-side). Once you’re done scanning each page, the scanner will save the scanned image into its inner memory.
These types of portable scanners can be good for libraries who want to scan specific books pages without bringing them to the scanner.
Automatic book scanners
An automatic book scanner is basically a scanner that is 100% hands free. You just put the book in its place and the machine does all the rest. Including turning the pages and adjusting the resolution.
These scanners are big, expensive, and require some technical knowledge to operate. They can mostly be found in professional book scanning services or in state of the art libraries that scan many books.
To know more about each type you may want to read our article about the different types of book scanners.
Who’s going to be using the scanners in the library?
That’s probably the first question a library should ask itself.
It could be that you need a book scanner for your library in order to scan the library’s old books collection and only the library’s workers will use and operate the scanner.
In that case we would suggest investing in a high quality scanner that scans fast and with high quality.
Or maybe you’re looking for book scanners to serve the students and/or the community coming to the library.
In that case we would suggest getting a few reliable overhead book scanners for the public to use.
How fast do you need to scan?
One of the most important factors to consider before purchasing a scanner for a library is the scanning speed. Public libraries receive a lot of foot traffic, so you will need a scanner that can keep up with the number of visitors.
If you opt for a scanner that is very slow, the process of scanning becomes less convenient and you could end up with a backlog of customers waiting to scan!
Scanning time can be very important if you’re scanning a lot of books. Even just a few more seconds per page can add-up to a few hours.
There are a few factors affecting scanning speed per page and we discuss them in our article about book scanners speed and in our guide on how book scanners work.
Scanning quality required for libraries
There’s no point in investing in a scanner that isn’t of good quality for your library or on the other hand, way over your basic needs.
When it comes to scanning camera resolution, your library scanner should have a minimum of 300 DPI (dots per inch). Anything lower than this won’t provide you with a high quality book scan.
Professional scanners or automatic scanners for library?
Automatic scanners are big and expensive machines, but if you have the budget, a place to store them and someone who can operate them, it’s definitely something to consider.
The amount of time and effort an automatic book scanner with automatic page turner and detection can save you is mind blowing.
Professional scanners like the overhead book scanners on this list will be enough for most libraries, either for in-house use or for the public to use.
They will produce great digital copies of your books, with less automation, but for an affordable price.
Scanning services instead of a library
You should also be aware of the option to send your books to a professional document scanning service.
In some cases, it’s worth doing so instead of buying a new scanner. You will get a high-quality digital copy of your books and you will save a lot of time and effort.
These services offer destructive and non-destructive scanning and are hugely convenient when you’ve got multiple books that you’d like to scan.
It’s something to consider, even for libraries.
How to scan a book at a library?
People coming to the library might need some guidance on the best practices for scanning books and in these cases you might want to point them to our article on how to scan books or how to scan old books. And in case any legal concerns arise you should point them to our article about the legality of book scanning.
Happy book scanning!