Digital Archivists

From Noisebridge
Revision as of 07:35, 28 July 2015 by Dq (talk | contribs) (Meeting notes)
Jump to: navigation, search


The Noisebridge Digital Archivists group is for anyone interested in a range of topics including book scanning, digitizing video/audio, open access, creative commons, and more. Lately we have focused on bound book digitization.

We usually meet on Wednesdays at 7pm. Join the mailing list and send us an email to see if there's a meeting this week.

The Noisebridge book scanner was recently demonstrated at the 2015 Maker Faire in San Mateo



Many weekly updates are made exclusively on our mailing list. Please join to keep in touch and ask questions:

Join the mailing list here: digitalarchivists

A summary of topics in our mailing list will be posted soon.


Our first project was to build a book scanner at Noisebridge based on the open-source DIY Book Scanner design. Check out the schematic, below, to see all the components. You can build your own using inspiration and guidance from this open source design from simple cut plywood or order pre-fabricated kits, though they are in demand and often sold out.

Reetz Scanner Schematic.png


Our style of book scanner is intended for use on bound books that can be sufficiently flattened by pushing the book up to the platen glass. Although the process requires turning each page by hand, one page at a time, the book is not damaged by process. Affordable automated book scanners are being developed by Dany Qumsiyeh. Note there is some risk putting your rare book on an automated scanner unattended such as ripped paged, etc.

Please see this animation to illustrate the manual process:

Page Turning

Each time the page is changed a trigger is hit by the operator to capture images of the even and odd pages simultaneously from SLR cameras. By capturing two pages at the same time our model has a speed advantage compared to flatbed scanners enabling us to scan about 600 pages an hour for a skilled operator. Also, most bound books cannot be properly imaged near the margin of the binding on flatbed scanners. This scanner recovers the region near the binding with great success.


The device captures from both cameras simultaneously by using USB drivers provide by gphoto2 wrapped into a nice python script here. Check out gphoto2 here and the list of supported cameras here. If you have linux you can just type: sudo apt-get install gphoto2

Currently we are making simple scripts to perform Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and produce searchable full text as PDF documents Github Code Repository. Check it out and fork our repos.



Digitization of the Mycological Society of San Francisco collection

The Pesticide Files

  • Andrew Defries PhD has been creating a custom assembled and rare digital corpus comprised of bound books on the topic of pesticides used in agriculture. Please see the github front page for a detailed description The Pesticide Files. This corpus will not be made available for download or public use, though access may be granted in the future via collaborative research agreements.

Related links

diy book scanner

linear book scanner project

the internet archive

prelinger archives

new alexandria archive

using archival information in interesting ways

a film about nitrile film decomposition

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)

For details about the book scanner, see: Bookscanner

Meeting notes

2015-07-22 - replaced camera firmware, installed spreads on beaglebone

2015-06-24 - installed chdk on new cameras, prepared for library events

2015-06-17 - moved new scanner into darkroom, installed and wired up led lights

2015-05-13 - discussed maker faire demo

2015-04-29 - assembled body of new scanner

2015-04-08 - discussed new scanner

2015-04-01 - discussed mycological society library and scanner location

2015-03-18 - painted reetz 2.0 scanner parts

2015-02-25 - training session for scanner, looked at linear book scanner prototype

2015-02-11 - scanner demo, discussion

2015-01-25 - discussed Andrew Defries' scanning booth and post-processing station, experimented with Vinux

2014-09-24 - reassembled and demoed the scanner to visitors, some linear book scanner updates, discussed funding and directions for the group

2014-08-28 - social meeting at Open Drinks

2014-07-17 - discussed scanning stand design at Muddy Waters

2014-06-19 - short meeting and 5mof

2014-06-12 - discussed plans for a portable phone-based scanner, assembled cardboard prototype of prism scanner

2014-06-05 - discussed improvements to the scanner and ocr pipeline

2014-05-29 - main topics were portable scanners for the blind and OCR comparison algorithms. full notes: Digital Archivists 2014-05-29

2014-05-22 - discussed lessons learned from DIY Scanner 1.0 and a range of new initiatives. full notes: Digital Archivists 2014-05-22

2014-01-09 - scanned books, investigated glare and alignment issues

2013-12-19 - bug fixes in the code, reviewed linear scanners from Michigan, improved documentation, discussed larger book scanning network

2013-12-12 - replaced LED shields with black cloth, more scanning

2013-12-05 - scanned books

2013-11-21 - scanned a book, wrote tesseract ocr script, looked at old computers, 5mof presentation

2013-11-14 - improved scanning gui, added LED shields

2013-11-07 - replaced bunjees, mounted LEDs, tried to run spreads

2013-10-31 - reassembled scanner, looked at 'spreads' software, screen readers

2013-10-24 - disassembled and painted scanner parts

2013-10-17 - investigated glare and LED positioning, plan to paint black, 5mof presentation

2013-10-10 - mounted cameras, built trigger mechanism, wrote capture script

2013-10-03 - picked up scanner and equipment from internet archive

2013-07-27 - internet archive borrows the book scanner

2013-07-18 - 5mof presentation on book scanning

2013-07-08 - discussed scanner location, security, transportation, reimbursement, promotion. full notes: Digital Archivists 2013-07-08

2013-05-23 - scavenged and cut glass from flatbed scanners, plan to attend internet archive friday lunch

2013-04-30 - assembled scanner kit. needs cameras, glass, trigger mechanism, software

2013-04-21 - looked at reetz scanner and prism scanner, discussed content and licensing. will order reetz kit. full notes: Digital Archivists 2013-04-21