About the University of Denver and Penrose Library
The oldest and largest private university in the Rocky Mountain region, Denver University was founded in 1864 as Colorado Seminary by John Evans, a close friend of Abraham Lincoln’s and the second governor of the Colorado Territory. 147 years later, the University enrolls 11,600 undergraduate and graduate students in eight different schools and colleges on a 125-acre campus. Still growing, it has opened 19 new academic, residential and administrative buildings since 1997.
The university’s Penrose Library is growing, too, and has just begun a $32 million expansion aimed at transforming it into a ‘library of the future’ that is more energy efficient and more inviting for students, faculty and visitors. This 18-24 month construction project will actually create a entirely new library on the same location – 10,000 square feel larger, with more seating and study space, a large café with patio seating, and enhanced technology in all areas.
On June 20, most library services relocated to a large ballroom and gallery in the Driscoll Student Center. There, the University has created a study space, surrounded by academic support services, including a pick-up desk for books. During the 18-24 month construction project, the collections will be located off campus, and patrons will need to request books and other materials online. Two vans will run in a continuous loop during the hours the library is open with the goal of delivering all requested materials in two to four hours.
Why BookScan Station?
Access Services Librarian Bethany Sewell has wanted to get a BookScan Station for the library since she learned about it at an ALA Conference two years ago. She said three things caught her attention. First was the affordable cost. Second was the BookScan Station’s combination of a flatbed scanner with and easy-to-use touch screen to guide patrons through the scanning process. Finally, she appreciated the fact that the step-by-step instructions on the touch screen include a copyright agreement that patrons must accept before scanning.
However, she ran into difficulties trying to coordinate with other departments in order to connect the BookScan Station with the network. The BookScan Station allows users to scan books and documents into a variety of file formats – including PDF, text-searchable PDF, JPEG and Word – then save their scans to a USB drive. If the scanners are connected to the network, patrons can also send their scans directly to an e-mail address or to a printer.
I tried to get them on the same page in the same room, but it was difficult,” said Sewell. “Solving those issues was a barrier until I convinced the forces that be that we didn’t necessarily need to connect to the network for email or print stations.” Instead, she pushed ahead and ordered a BookScan Station for the library, but it currently only allows users to save their scans to a USB drive.
That limitation has not put a damper on patrons’ enthusiasm. The scanner was installed right next to the circulation desk in late February. “In the first month before we even really had any PR about the scanner, the pages scanned surpassed both copiers in the building put together,” said Sewell. By April, that number had increased four times.
To encourage students to use the new technology, Sewell posted a notice on the library’s home page urging students to ‘try our newest “gadget”, the easy-to-use, free book scanner!” The ‘Featured Gadget’ blurb described the BookScan Station’s benefits: “Touch screen instructions make it easy to quickly scan pages and save them onto your flash drive. The scanner glass goes to the edge of the machine allowing you to get cleaner, brighter scans of book pages than on a traditional flat bed scanner or photocopy machine.”
She also set out a bowl of about 100 flash drives left over as promotions from a previous event. “We just hand them out as needed,” she said. “We had about 100 and are almost out. If they give them back, that’s great – otherwise, we needed to get rid of them anyway.”
What do students think? Sewell shared some of the comments she has received: “Genius!” “When are you going to get more?” “Can you have a sign up sheet because that guy is hogging it.” “My document came out so clear.” And “Thanks!”
Transitioning to the Future
With the library renovation underway and all materials located off campus, Sewell believes the BookScan Station will be a real asset. “We expect a dramatic increase in paging materials as patrons won’t be able to browse books before checking them out, much less browse shelves for books,” she said. “This will help them not have to check out everything they page as they can scan selections as needed and return while still at the temporary service space we have set up.”
And, once construction is complete, the BookScan Station fits in with the University’s vision of a ‘library of the future’ offering more digital material and using fewer resources.
“Folks want digital,” said Sewell. “We are purchasing more materials digitally and that is how they often use even long segments of material.” In addition, the University of Denver has made a strong commitment to environmental conservation, and has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050. “Going green is ubiquitous here, so (the BookScan Station) was a natural selection.”
Sewell does have plans to get more BookScan Stations, and hopes they will eventually be connected to the network so patrons will have the ability to scan to e-mail and to print. “Hopefully now, after the great success and proof of concept, we can collaborate more with the other units,” she said.
She also wants to keep offering the scanning service for free. “Why charge?” she said. “It seemed like a barrier to use. We wanted to promote sustainability. We have other scanners – like the microform scanner which we do not charge for and it’s much more expensive to maintain. Besides . . . we’re here for service not revenue.”
Eventually, she says, she sees scanners replacing photocopy machines as the workhorse of the library. For one thing, patrons today – especially college students – want their material digitally. But the BookScan Station’s easy of use and reliability have also made life easier for library staff.
“I don’t think I’ve answered more than one question about the use and my staff hasn’t complained about needing to step out and help patrons like they so often do with the copier,” she said. “Perhaps we will be able to kill two library pet peeves in one stone – forever fixing jammed staplers and copiers. I even learned in library school that librarians spend more time doing those two things than almost anything else. Its true.”
“BookScan Station is “simple, easy, low maintenance, inexpensive. Patrons will love the added service, and of course – it’s GREEN.”
Access Services Librarian
Penrose Library, University of Denver