Lessons learned: Scanner Purchasing

Several months ago, a colleague got a grant to purchase a large format (and preferably an overhead) high resolution scanner for a project related to our archives. This process did not go as smoothly as hoped. Essentially, we were misled to believe that the Book-2-Net Spirit scanner would scan at 600 dpi and it doesn’t. The images actually scan at 200 dpi despite the scanners settings that list 600 dpi as an option.  So while the scans are crisp, moire becomes a real problem with anything that already has a pattern.

So here’s what I learned:

  • Never trust the vendor at their word.
  • Never trust other library websites and insist on seeing the specs from the vendor. (There are other libraries advertising that this scanner scans at 600 dpi. It doesn’t. And at the time we originally purchased the scanner there were no specs from vendors on the internet.) I have since found a great description on another vendor’s site: http://bdm-technology.com/product/book2net-a3-spirit-overhead-scanner/
  • Document everything in writing (a lesson that goes for lots of stuff.)
  • Even if it’s not your project, but you’re the “tech” go-to person, take the extra time to research scanners yourself, ask questions about what the user really wants to use the scanner for, and create a comparison chart containing all the important specs/details.
  • Most Important! Look at the file details and properties of the output image, not just the resulting picture. This will tell you if you are really getting the scan you want.



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