Date of Original Version
Lightning Talk given at ACRL New England Conference 2021. Starting in fall 2019, we embarked on an in-house pilot project to digitize our entire thesis and dissertation collection and ingest these works to the institutional repository. With undergraduate student workers doing all of the scanning, we are removing the binding of one copy of each thesis/dissertation and digitizing the resulting loose pages using a sheet feeder scanner. Surprisingly little has been written about this approach to digitization in libraries, perhaps because destroying physical copies of books is not often desirable or feasible. But in certain situations, this workflow can provide a very low-cost and relatively fast option for digitizing a collection. The best information we were able to find about taking books apart came from YouTube. For advice about heavy-duty paper cutters (guillotines) we relied on book arts listservs. As a result, we are learning on the job and adjusting as we go. For example, the new paper cutter blade went dull after merely two months because of the unexpectedly high number of books students were able to get through. Also because of the high volume of scanning, staff working on other pieces of the project – such as uploading the files to the repository, editing the catalog records, and even discarding the large volume of empty bindings – encountered a large bottleneck. After recalibrating and redistributing the workloads amongst the collaborative team, we are finding a balance where the various elements of the project are keeping pace. Given the limited amount of information available about in-house “destructive” digitization projects, our talk will be aimed at sharing valuable lessons learned from the experience.