Internet Archive scanning: Behind the scenes at the Biodiversity Heritage Library

These days with digital cameras built into your phone, most everyone has some first hand experience creating digital images. Creating the nearly 40 million page images on BHL is in many ways similar what you probably do on a daily basis with your phone – it’s really just a matter of scale in terms of the technology used for the digitization and the special care taken with the books.

The most important part of the process, however, are the people behind the cameras that take the pictures. Today we want to focus on a key group of those people. As many know, the Internet Archive is a not-for-profit founded by Internet pioneer Brewster Kahle and based in San Francisco. Since 2007, the Internet Archive has been the primary digitization partner of the BHL. The Internet Archive has facilities around the world. Those that the BHL has used include:

Large scanning facilities (with multiple “Scribe” scanning machines) in:

  • San Francisco (Internet Archive)
  • Washington, DC (Library of Congress/FedScan)
  • Northern New Jersey
  • Boston (Boston Public Library)

Smaller facilities in:

  • Ft. Wayne, Indiana
  • University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

And “satellites”, single Scribe machines, in:

  • Natural History Museum, London
  • Smithsonian Libraries, Washington, DC

Managing these (and a number more around the world) is the Internet Archive’s Director for Books, Robert Miller. Assisting Robert with that task are the team of scanning center coordinators that manage the workflow and keep our materials safe while putting them online for our worldwide user community.

Pictured below are seven scanning center coordinators gathered for the Internet Archive’s Leaders’ Forum (at the Richmond Branch, SFPL), 24-25 November 2012 (from left):

  • Jude Coelho (Open Library)
  • Shelia De Roche (FedScan)
  • Gemma Waterston (satelites)
  • Stacy Argondizzo (Princeton, NJ)
  • Jeff Sharpe (ACPL Fort Wayne, IN)
  • Stacey A. Seronick (Boston Scan Center)
  • Jesse Bell (San Francisco Center)
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