Wednesday, 2 December 2009

GWU has robot helping to digitize books

The Chronicle of Higher Education's Wired Campus blog reports that George Washington University is testing out a robot to help digitize rare books. GW has announced that it will use an automated system to digitize rare Middle Eastern texts from its own library and from that of Georgetown University. Library staffers will digitize hundreds of works over the next two years, and when the project is completed, they will examine the associated costs. They hope to be able to tell other libraries which method of digitization is more affordable. Digitizing just one book can take a human being hours and can involve removing the binding and/or having someone turn the pages. The automated robot at GW uses a black plastic arm to turn pages, pauses as two cameras take pictures of both open pages, and then turns the page again. Air circulates through the arm of the machine, creating a gentle vacuum that can attract a page and guide it from the right side of the book to the left.

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