About University of Connecticut and its libraries:
Founded as the Storrs Agricultural School in 1881 with a grant of 170 acres of land and $5,000 in cash, the University of Connecticut is now consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the best public university in New England and one of the top 30 in the United States. Over 21,800 undergraduate and 8,100 graduate students attend the university’s 14 schools and colleges, including the main campus in Storrs, the Schools of Law and Social Work in Hartford, the Schools of Medicine and Dentistry in Farmington and other regional campuses.
The University of Connecticut Libraries form the largest public research collection in the state, with 3.6 million volumes; 51,000 print and electronic periodicals; 15,000 reference sources; and a growing array of electronic resources. The main library – the Homer Babbidge Library on the Storrs campus – serves both graduate and undergraduate programs. In addition to the main collection, it boasts the largest public map collection in New England; an Art & Design Library and reading room; the Roper Center Public Opinion Archives; comprehensive collections of current and retrospective Federal and Connecticut documents; and extensive video and audio collections.
Each of the University’s five regional campuses also maintains a library dedicated to serving the programs at those sites. On the Greater Hartford Campus is the Harleigh B. Trecker (HBT) Library, which serves over 1,200 graduate students working towards degrees in education, public policy, and social work and more than 1,000 undergraduates. HBT housed about 100,000 volumes and over 2,000 journals in both paper and micro text formats.
Why BookScan Station?
William Uricchio, Director of Harleigh B. Trecker Library on the Greater Hartford Campus, first saw the BookScan Station at a library conference a couple of years ago. “They were doing a demonstration and I came back all enthused about it,” he recalls. “So I put in an equipment request. Storrs loved the idea, but there was a limited budget so (in April 2010) they bought one for themselves, but not for me.” He continued to hear good things about the units, both from librarians on the Storrs campus, and from his wife at Trinity College, which became the first library in Connecticut to install BookScan Station in November 2009. So he kept pushing and, in late March 2011, the Greater Hartford Campus library finally got a BookScan Station, as did the regional campuses at Stamford and Waterbury.
“It’s kind of funny,” says Uricchio. “I was the one that initiated it, but it took two years for me to get one here.” Now that it has arrived, “the students really, really love it. It’s very easy to use – really remarkable.”
What was it about the BookScan Station that caught his attention at the library conference two years ago?
“We’ve had students requesting scanning services here for a long time,” he says. “At home, they have color scanners and so forth and they never understood why the library didn’t have that. But we never put one out because all we had to offer was a (conventional) flatbed hooked up to a computer that could do one page at time, with no capability for flash drive. That was not convenient or useful.”
In contrast, the BookScan Station pairs a flatbed scanner with a simple touch-screen computer interface. Users can save their scans to a USB drive or e-mail it to themselves in a digital format such as PDF, Word, or a graphic file. And built-in optical character recognition (OCR) technology means that the scanned documents can be searched and edited.
“I came back saying, ‘This is exactly the kind of thing students are asking for.’ When you think about it, the price of this unit is very reasonable, because you are not only getting the scanner. You’re getting the touch screen and the fact that the system is so well integrated. It solved so many things for us in one purchase. It’s really amazing.”
A Growing Clientele
The BookScan Station at HBT Library was launched with a blog post on April 4, announcing that ‘Color Scanning Comes to the Library.’ The post included an embedded YouTube video demonstration on using the scanner, which was originally produced by Fairfield Public Library. Since then, says Uricchio, students have flocked to use the scanners and he has received an overwhelmingly positive response.
“The thing we hear the most excitement about is the touch screen,” says Uricchio. “They say it’s the easiest touch screen they’ve ever used. Each step of the way, it’s so clear what’s going to happen next. Overall, it’s how easily they can get the thing in their hands out into the format they want it in, more quickly and easily than anything else.”
In a recent survey, one graduate student wrote: “A few weeks ago I wanted to recommend you’re getting a scanner. And then we got one! I was so excited when I saw it. It’s wonderful. It beats paying for printouts. Now I can just scan articles to my classmates and teachers.” Since then she – and a lot of other students – have been using the BookScan station regularly.
“We’re pretty sure that by the time fall semester comes, which is our busiest semester, we’ll have people lined up to use it,” he says. “So we may get one more, maybe two – at least one with (a document feeder for) multi-page capability.”
Originally, Uricchio expected that most library patrons would be using the scanner as a free alternative to the library photocopies, which charge 10 cents per page for black and white copies and does not offer color copies. But students today are far more sophisticated.
“I’ve seen a lot more interest in OCR (Optical Character Recognition) than I thought. Students these days are much more technically proficient that we are, and they are using the scanners to scan pages from a book so they can load them directly into their word processors for their papers.” For them, it’s a huge improvement over photocopying their source, then typing it into their word processor – especially since “the OCR is really, really good in this unit. It even picks up unusual fonts. This is very high end stuff.”
The BookScan Station is not connected to printers or photocopiers, but students seem unconcerned. It may be, says Uricchio, that students are ready to embrace this new technology over the old.
“Just before the BookScan Station came, we had a member of Library IT come out to talk about various problems with printing and the photocopiers,” he says. “Then a couple weeks later, he came out to install the BookScan Station and show us how to use it. I said to him, ‘After you’ve show us this, is it fair to say that what we need is not more copiers, but more BookScan Stations?’ And he said, ‘Absolutely.’”
Part of that is driven by the students desire for more digital content and fewer books to drag around. But it’s also a question of library resources.
“Face it, BookScan Stations are less expensive than photocopiers and they have all this added value,” says Uricchio. “Especially if we can get document feeders and more units, I think we could do a lot more with the BookScan Station. They are easy to place around libraries, because they are not as big, and they’re not using paper or toner.”
Besides, he adds, “You can’t buy this kind of service (for our patrons) or the gratitude we’re getting for providing it. That’s a whole extra value.”
“The OCR is really, really good in this unit. It even picks up unusual fonts. This is very high end stuff.”
Director of Harleigh B. Trecker Library
Greater Hartford Campus
University of Connecticut