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Book Ripper (bkrpr) could facilitate small digitization projects

A post just now about recommendations for book scanners on code4lib reminded me of a comment from a Council member last week at Spring ’09 DLC. The Council member said that his relatively small academic library might not have the technical or monetary means to gear up a large scale digitization project, but that he was more than willing to pitch in with small projects or one-off digitizations if there was, for example, a list of items of importance from which he could pick and choose.

I commented then and will repeat now that digitization doesn’t necessarily mean a library has to purchase a high end digitization unit (aka the Scribe) from the Internet Archive for $15k — although I *love* the work that the Open Content Alliance (OCA) is doing!

A small project could easily be done with off-the-shelf hardware and open source software (The Scribe’s software is in fact freely available under a GPL license on SourceForge!). One such project that I’d recommend you look into is the Book Ripper project (bkrpr for short!). (Disclosure: my friend Karl Fogel is involved in bkrpr). They’ve even got instructions for building the camera mount. All the hardware is cheap and/or easy to build and the software is free and open source (they’re experimenting now with OCRopus for character recognition processing). Check it out!