Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Digital Microfilm Readers Popular with Clarke Patrons

By John Fierst

Photograph by Hannah
Is it any surprise that the digital reader printers we installed in the reading room two years ago are so popular with Clarke patrons?  These machines, ScanPro 1000s, have revolutionized the process of copying information stored on microfilm.  We have two of them, and when the university is in session they are in constant use.  Both are equipped with a 7-54X Zoom lens, so no switching of lenses is required as in olden days, and both employ auto-focusing and auto-exposure software.   Each has a 24” LCD monitor which can be turned in either portrait or landscape position, and the images on those screens can be easily rotated.  Images can also be downloaded to a thumb drive, and it is this feature that is most popular with users, saving them the trouble and the cost of making print copies.  Of course print copies can easily be made, however, and/or you can send images directly over the internet as email attachments.  You choose the format:  pdf, jpg, tiff, etc. 

These powerful microfilm viewer/scanner/printers take up very little carrel space compared to the old hand-cranked dinosaurs that once flourished in research libraries.  The ScanPro sits on a space that is about the size of two sheets of letter paper.  Yes, there is a learning curve before one feels comfortable using a digital microfilm reader, and patrons require careful assistance when first introduced to the ScanPro, but once they get the basics down they are off and running on their own.  To help our patrons, we put together a “Quick Start Guide” which we keep in a binder next to the ScanPros, and Andrea, one of our student assistants, created ScanPro templates  for some of the more popular items we have on microfilm, such as Mount Pleasant’s Morning Sun.  In the Reference Department we are all now confident users of ScanPro 1000, and none too soon.  I see they recently came out with ScanPro 2000.