Like many researchers, I use a Canoscan LIDE 200 to scan archival records where it's allowed. It's small (easily fits into my messenger bag next to my computer), lightweight (3.5 lbs), inexpensive (currently $75 on Amazon), convenient (connects to my computer with a USB cable), and it works great.
The challenge has been scanning tri-folded documents from a hundred years ago. It's impossible to flatten them so it's hard to keep them straight while closing the scanner cover. I've finally found a solution.
A few weeks ago I had the clerk at my local hardware store cut a piece of thin plexiglass slightly smaller than the glass on the scanning bed. There's a small lip around the scanning glass and when I set the plexiglass against it the plexiglass becomes a see-through cover. I put the paper on the glass, straighten it, bring the plexiglass down on the page, and make sure the paper underneath is straight. Then I close the actual cover and scan. The plexiglass doesn't seem to affect the image quality.
And what about stapled tri-fold documents that can't be unfastened? It's not always possible to use the plexiglass in those cases, but a double-thick file folder or piece of poster board used in place of the stiff scanner cover can make it easier to line up those documents for scanning.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
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