The Bookeye 4 at the Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Digital Services Center

ODU’s Perry Library Digital Services Center has a new way to preserve documents, rare books and now sheet music. Thanks to an extremely generous gift from the Blank Foundation, I present: the Bookeye 4! An overhead scanner that can either remain flat, or be raised into a v-shaped cradle. Unlike a traditional flatbed scanner, books do not need to be placed upside down and have destructive pressure applied to the spine for a smooth scan.

Please don’t do this to books! –from the blog ‘Book Conservation for Historical Societies’

With the Bookeye 4, objects can be scanned within a few seconds and uploaded in various formats (JPEG, TIFF, PDF and so on). Other awesome features include shadow removal, color balance and book fold correction. This incredible piece of technology helps libraries, archives and museums protect collections by creating a digital record. Yet, why would you want to digitize materials? I mean, what’s the point? Good question! Below is a perfect example:

Cover page for Games in Space: Bicinium IV for Flute and Clarinet. The Allan Blank Papers Collection (1952-2013).

This is the cover page for Games in Space by Allan Blank, dated 1987. Notice the giant rip on the lower left? Also, the creases at the top? What did I do to this poor score?! I’m joking, I’m joking!

Actually, a large part of Mr. Blank’s collection is folded, ripped, water stained, foxed and heavily creased. This is normal wear for papers nearly seventy years old. While, my job is to create counter measures to prevent further damage to the collection (acid free housing, stable humidity and temperature, no exposure to light…the list goes on), digitization adds another layer of preservation. A digital record cannot be damaged, or subjected to the ravages of time.

Perhaps even more importantly, digitization creates more accessibility to archival collections. A fancy way of saying researchers from across the world can google Allan Blank and find his scores without traveling to the distant shores of Virginia.

Games in Space: Bicinium IV for Flute and Clarinet dedicated to David B. Niethamer and Patricia S. Werrell, 1987. The Allan Blank Papers Collection (1952-2013).

I’m certain that you are entering the Allan Blank Papers Collection, 1952-2013 into your browser at this very moment, but distressingly coming up blank. (haha, see what I did there?) Currently, the purpose of processing is to establish organization and ease of use for the physical collection. However, the long term goal is to have the entire collection digitized. So, for right now, I will continue to process the scores, sketches, notes and other ephemera. Be on the lookout for the scores entering the digital realm in the very near future with Games in Space leading the way!

Want to learn more about the Bookeye 4? Click HERE for an interesting video about this scanner.