Emory Will Use Kirtas Scanner to Digitize Rare Books

Emory University’s Woodruff Library will use a Kirtas robotic book scanner to digitize rare books and to create PDF files that will be made available on the Internet and sold as print-on-demand books on Amazon.

Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

"We believe that mass digitization and print-on-demand publishing is an important new model for digital scholarship that is going to revolutionize the management of academic materials," said Martin Halbert, director for digital programs and systems at Emory’s Woodruff Library. "Information will no longer be lost in the mists of time when books go out of print. This is a way of opening up the past to the future."

Emory’s Woodruff Library is one of the premier research libraries in the United States, with extensive holdings in the humanities, including many rare and special collections. To increase accessibility to these aging materials, and ensure their preservation, the university purchased a Kirtas robotic book scanner, which can digitize as many as 50 books per day, transforming the pages from each volume into an Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). The PDF files will be uploaded to a Web site where scholars can access them. If a scholar wishes to order a bound, printed copy of a digitized book, they can go to Amazon.com and order the book on line.

Emory will receive compensation from the sale of digitized copies, although Halbert stressed that the print-on-demand feature is not intended to generate a profit, but simply help the library recoup some of its costs in making out-of-print materials available.