About Princeton University Library
Princeton University is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the United States. Chartered in 1746, it was only the fourth college in the American Colonies. That long history and longer list of illustrious alumni make it one of the best known of the Ivy League schools. Today, the historic 500-acre campus is home to 7,500 undergraduate and graduate students from 98 countries and over 1,100 faculty. World renowned for both teaching and research, Princeton is consistently ranked first in numerous categories, and has been named #1 National University by U.S. News and World Reports for nine of the past ten years.
The Princeton Univeristy library system has grown from a collection of 474 volumes in one room of historic Nassau Hall to over 11 million holdings in 19 buildings. The main collection is located at Firestone Library. Built in 1948, Firestone boasts over 50 miles of shelves and almost four million volumes. It is one of the largest university libraries in the world and among the largest “open stack” libraries in existence. Committed to staying state-of-the-art, the library provides networked computers across campus and a variety of electronic resources.
Why BookScan Station?
According to Eugene Kaganovich, a systems analyst in the Princeton Library IT department, he found himself “spontaneously, for better or worse” responsible for the management of the library’s scanners. As a result, he said, “I’m always looking for new scanning products.” So when Kaganovich saw the BookScan Station at the ALA Conference in 2009, he was intrigued.
Made by iVina, the BookScan Station pairs a flatbed scanner with a simple touch-screen screen to guide users through the scanning process. Users can choose to scan books and documents into a variety of file formats, including PDF, text-searchable PDF, JPEG and Word. And they can save their scans to a USB drive or e-mail them right from the scanner. In addition, the BookScan Station’s oversized scanning bed has a beveled edge that allows book pages to lie flat on the glass to protect the book spine and capture a distortion-free scan.
“What attracted me was the ease of use,” said Kaganovich. “The patron doesn’t have to do anything but approach, touch, and scan. Plus, sometimes you need to move it or turn it, and (the BookScan Station) is very light weight. So you’ve got nice software, an easy-use screen, and an easy-to-move scanner with a book edge.”
Kaganovich was sure the BookScan Station would be a great addition to the Princeton Library System, but others weren’t so enthusiastic. “To be honest, the library didn’t have any intention to buy any, but I insisted that we get one on trial.”
The trial unit arrived in July 2010, and was installed, not in a highly visible area, but in a nook on the third underground floor of the Firestone Library. Other than the signage over the scanner, the library did nothing to promote the BookScan Station. Still, by the time school started in September there were lines of students waiting to use it and library staff was hearing positive reviews. Then, said Kaganovich “there was a glitch and the unit became unavailable temporarily and people started howling, ‘We need that! We need that!’”
Quickly, the discussion changed from whether to buy the BookScan Station to how many to buy. “The department heads bombarded us with requests,” said Kaganovich. In the end, Princeton ordered 16 BookScan Stations. Six are located in the Firestone Library, with others scattered among other library branches and departments. A few departments are waiting on furniture orders before setting up their scanners, but those that are operational are being used every day.
All of the units are set up in public areas, intended strictly for the use of library patrons.
“For our archives or to digitize materials, we use much more expensive and complex overhead scanners and cameras,” said Kaganovich. The BookScan Station, in contrast, is intended to improve service by giving students a fast, easy – and free – scanning solution.
Princeton University Library plans to study how the BookScan Stations are used and what impact they have on resources and services. “We have not started collecting any statistics or doing any analysis, because we’re waiting for all the units to be deployed,” said Kaganovich. “But my impression is that, yes, it does save printing costs, just by the fact that BookScan Station is not connected to the printers. That means the work patrons do with it, they take home, so they don’t print. That’s a massive amount of scanned papers that doesn’t end up on our printers.”
So far, he said, the BookScan Stations have done everything he expected. “The touch screen makes it easy,” said Kaganovich. “The actual selection of tools by page is also easy. And the actual software is very quick and responsive, so you don’t have to wait. Then there’s the compactness of the unit and the light weight of the scanner.”
In addition, by wasting less paper, the scanners helps fulfill the goal of ‘Greening Princeton,’ a key consideration in the discussions about getting the scanners.
Already, having a fast and easy scanning solution is changing the way library patrons work. “We have other scanning solutions which are more like sit-down stations where you scan, then you edit and modify,” said Kaganovich. Often, people get caught up in that process and waste a lot of time using the scanner software to improve their scans. That doesn’t happen with the BookScan Stations. “With these, you come, you scan, you leave,” he said. “Patrons are discovering that, by doing just that, it gives them more productivity.”
Princeton’s BookScan Stations have now been in place for almost a full school year, but Kaganovich sees this as just the beginning. Once the study is complete, the library may decide to add features or tweak the distribution of the scanning stations. “Still, I feel comfortable in that they are in rather heavy use and we don’t have any complaints or problems,” he said. “They do what patrons want them to do. In this configuration, they are fulfilling their purpose to everyone’s satisfaction.”
“I am very satisfied. The way (the BookScan Stations) work exactly fits their use and everyone is satisfied. They are easy, fast, and effective instruments to do quick scanning work.”
Infrastructure Operations Lead Analyst/Manager
Princeton University Library Systems Office