Hi-res scans save rare books

Hi-res scans save rare books

'Somewhere down the road' computer monitors will show higher-resolution images than the Web's current 72 dots per inch, said Martin R. Kalfatovic, head of the Smithsonian Institution's New Media Office.

His office has begun saving Web images at 96 dpi and scanning the Smithsonian's rarest books at up to 600 dpi. Each page of a 17th- or 18th-century scientific volume takes about five minutes to capture with a 35-mm scanning-back camera from Phase One Inc. of Northport, N.Y. Archiving a single page occupies up to 100M on a tape library run by IBM's Tivoli Storage Manager application.

Some of the books are unique or the only copies in North America. Web posting lets Smithsonian and other scientists worldwide study the rare images, at www.sil.si.edu/
DigitalCollections
, without damaging them.

Less rare materials are contracted out for scanning, Kalfatovic said, and some are being keyed and tagged in Extensible Markup Language for reuse. A consortium of national museums in several countries is working on an XML document type definition for taxonomic literature, he said.

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