03 April 2017

LAC's DigiLab Opens

Today is the opening of DigiLab at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa, a hands-on facility for users to digitize and contextualize LAC collections of value to their study, work and communities. Located on the 3rd floor of the building access is by application for a specific project.

I had the opportunity to trial the facility last week using the Book2net public scanner III (link is to a similar machine.) The learning curve is gentle, place the item to scan, press a button and the machine focuses, aligns and crops automatically. It even adjusts for moderate curvature on bound or bent originals. You see the scanned image on the screen to check for image quality. I choose to scan to a multi-image pdf. You log a basic description of each file on a nearby computer.

I was scanning original records of weather observations, three times a day, taken in Ottawa in the 1870s and 80s. Each sheet contained a week's observations. The image above is a just a small part of the sheet, observations for 3 April 1874.

There are several other smaller machines which I didn't try, I think they are model ScanSnap SV600

All of the material digitized through the DigiLab will be made available online for general public access. You get to walk away at the end of the session with a USB drive (bring your own) with all your images.

Judging by the number of people who photograph documents while researching at LAC, and the superior quality of the images from DigiLab equipment, it seems likely it will prove popular over time.

Melanie Brown, manager of the facility will be making a presentation to OGS Ottawa Branch later this month.

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