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Digital Initiatives: Hardware & Software

Hardware

Hardware Overview

When it comes to hardware, there are many options available. The equipment needed will greatly depend on the collection and what types of items you will be digitizing. For example, if you'll be digitizing photographs and documents, a flatbed scanner might work the best; or if you will be digitizing  books, a book scanner would likely be the best option.

Click on the tabs at the top of this section to learn more about:

  • Flatbed scanners
  • Book scanners
  • Slide/ film scanners
  • Microfilm scanners
  • Digital Storage
  • Other equipment that may be needed

The tabs in this section (and the PDFs below) include lists of hardware relating to digitization and digital projects. It has been compiled for citizens and personal digital archiving, as it strives to focus on low-cost options. However, small to medium-sized institutions may also find this information useful.

The lists are not comprehensive nor are they an endorsement for one brand or company other another. Any prices listed are estimates and may be subject to change.


There many different types and brands of flatbed scanners. For the purposes of this guide, only Epson is included. This is only due to the fact that the ND State Library has and uses Epson flatbed scanners for its digitization. It is not necessarily an endorsement of one product over another.


Flatbed Scanners
Model Cost Photos & Documents Slides Negatives Export Format
Epson V19 $70 Yes* No No JPEG, PDF, TIFF
Epson V39 $100 Yes* No No JPEG, PDF, TIFF
Epson V600 $250 Yes* Yes Yes** JPEG, PDF, TIFF
Epson V850 $1,150 Yes* Yes Yes JPEG, PDF, TIFF

*Scanning surface is roughly 8.5 x 11.

**Epson V600 cannot scan negatives much larger than 35 mm film.


Flatbed Scanners: Guides & Resources

There many different types and brands of book scanners. For the purposes of this guide, only CZUR is included. This is only due to the fact that the ND State Library has and uses CZUR book scanners for its digitization. It is not necessarily an endorsement of one product over another.


Book Scanners
Model Cost OCR Resolution Export Format
CZUR Aura $290 Yes 4320 x 3240 JPEG, PDF, TIFF
CZUR ET 16 Plus $410 Yes 4608 x 3456 JPEG, PDF, TIFF
CZUR ET16 $425 Yes 4608 x 3456 JPEG, PDF, TIFF
CZUR 18 Pro $525 Yes 4896 x 3672 JPEG, PDF, TIFF

Book Scanners: Guides & Resources
Slide/ Film Scanners
Model Cost Slide Formats Negative Formats Export Format
DIGITNOW 22MP $80 35, 110, 126, etc. 8*, 35, 110, 126, 127, etc. JPEG
Magnasonic 22MP $100 35, 110, 126, etc. 8*, 35, 110, 126, 127, etc. JPEG
KODAK Mini $130 35, 110, 126, etc. 8*, 35, 110, 126, 127, etc. JPEG
Wolverine Titan $150 35, 110, 126, etc. 8*, 35, 110, 126, 127, etc. JPEG
KODAK SCANZA $160 35, 110, 126, etc. 8*, 35, 110, 126, 127, etc. JPEG

*Super 8 is supported, but only for stills. These scanners cannot convert video.

Microfilm Scanners

In-House Microfilm Digitization

If you are in getting a microfilm scanner and digitizing yourself, consult these resources:


Outsourcing Microfilm Digitization

If you are interested in having someone else scan your microfilm, one company that has partnered with North Dakota institutions before is Advantage Archives, but there are other options available.

VHS to Digital Converter
Model Cost Tape Formats Export Format
TOTMC $20 Hi8, MiniDV, MiniMV, VHS, VHS-C, etc.* MPEG
DIGITNOW $20 Hi8, MiniDV, MiniMV, VHS, VHS-C, etc.* MPEG
Diamond VC500 $38 Hi8, MiniDV, MiniMV, VHS, VHS-C, etc.* MPEG

*The hardware to play these tapes (like a VCR, for example) will also be needed for the conversion process.

Digital Storage

Storage for your digital files is a highly important aspect of digitization and digital preservation. Digital storage should be one of your considerations BEFORE you begin a digital project. You want to make sure that you have enough storage for your digital items. Depending on what you are digitizing, they may be large files (like if you are scanning a book with hundreds of pages, for example).

You will also need to come up with a plan to back up these files. You should not have just the one digital copy, in case something ever happens to one of the copies (corruption, accidental deletion, etc.). Follow the 3-2-1 rule (consult the resources in the section below for more information).

There are many options for digital storage available, but here are three common ones:

  • Drives
  • Server/ network-attached storage (NAS)
  • Cloud

Drives

Local drives (stored on your computer) or external hard drives are common methods of digital storage. They are arguably the simplest and inexpensive option.

One thing to keep in mind with local drives is this: If anything ever happens to your computer, these files will also be susceptible.

There are also numerous external hard drives available, and they typically range from about $50-150 (here is one example). External hard drives are good for personal use, but institutions should be leery of them. They are not typically shock resistant (meaning that if the hard drive is accidentally dropped, it could break and you could lose everything on it).

Network-Attached Storage (NAS)

Libraries, archives, museums, etc. should consider more advanced options of digital storage, such as network-attached storage (NAS). This is essentially a small server (here is one example, and here is a second).

NAS provides a robust option for storage, but it comes with a high cost and maintenance. The downside of NAS storage is the set up. You cannot just take them out of the box, plug them in, and then expect it to be good to go. There is a set up process that takes time.

Many NAS boxes don’t include drives, so these would have to be purchased separately (here is an example). Also, it is good practice to have a backup power supply for a NAS, just in case something happens (like a power outage). An uninterruptible power supply would do the trick (here is an example).

So, to get a NAS and its needed accessories, you could easily be looking at $1,000-1,500.

If your institution is considering a NAS box for its digital storage needs, contact Digital Initiatives for further guidance.

The Cloud

Cloud storage can be a beneficial addition to your storage plan. It can be utilized for personal use and by institutions. The good thing about cloud storage is that it is located off-site and can usually be accessed from anywhere. So, if something ever happens to your local computer, external hard drive, NAS, etc., then then the cloud would still be there as a backup.

However, cloud storage should only be a backup and not the only storage option. The cloud is not the solution to everything. When you use cloud storage, your files will be stored on a server that is managed by a third-party company. There are no guarantees that this company will last forever. Here are a few things to consider when exploring cloud storage: access, security, stability, and privacy.


Digital Storage: Guides & Resources
Other Equipment

Flash Drive

When undergoing a digitization project, it may be necessary to use a flash drive. However, these should only be used temporarily (like when transferring digital files from one computer to another, for example). Flash drive are not suitable long-term digital storage options. You want to make sure the flash drive has enough digital storage to adequately fit your files. A SanDisk 128GB flash drive, for example, has plenty of storage and won’t break the bank at about $20.


Computer/ Laptop

Some of computer or laptop is typically needed to operate scanning hardware. Make sure your computer's operating system is compatible with the hardware.


Digital Camera

A cost-effective way to digitize objects and large materials (like maps, blueprints, posters, etc.) is to use a digital camera. However, not all digital cameras are created equal. Cameras from smartphones and tablets should be avoided. Point-and-shoot cameras should also be avoided. Instead, use a high-quality SLR (single-lens reflex) camera.


Portable Studio Tent/ Light Box

A portable photo studio tent or lightbox can be useful when using a digital camera to capture objects. These accessories provide a backdrop and remove the background from your images. There are many options available from places like Amazon (like this one or this one), and there are also many DIY options available online (like this one).


Glass

Generally, it is a good idea to have at least one piece of glass to accompany a book scanner. You would put the piece of glass over the pages that are being scanned, and then the glass would help flatten the pages.

The size of the glass depends on the size of the items you will be scanning and on the size of the scanning surface. So, you may any need a small piece of glass (like 8x10), or you may need something larger (like 11x17 or 16x20).

Glass like this can be purchased from places like Hobby Lobby. But make sure it is museum-quality glass to reduce any potential glare.

Software

Software Overview

When it comes to software, there are many options available. Most scanners come with their own software to handle the digitization of the item (e.g. photograph). However, managing and processing the files after digitization will likely require additional software. The software needed depends on your project and the files you will be processing (e.g. TIFF or PDF).

Click on the tabs at the top of this section to learn more about:

  • Image software
  • Document software
  • Video software
  • Audio software
  • OCR software
  • Bulk renaming software
  • Checksum software

The tabs in this section (and the PDFs below) include lists of software relating to digital projects. It has been compiled for citizens and personal digital archiving, as it strives to focus on low-cost options. However, small to medium-sized institutions may also find this information useful.

Although many of these programs are used by the ND State Library, the lists are not comprehensive nor are they an endorsement for one brand or company other another. Any prices listed are estimates and may be subject to change.


Image Software

Software for the viewing, editing, splicing, and converting of digital image files.

Software Description Supported Formats Cost
GIMP View, edit, and convert images JPEG, TIFF, PDF, PNG, GIF, etc. Free
Image Composite Editor Image stitcher/ splicer JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF, etc. Free
Multi-Page TIFF Editor View, edit, and convert images and documents; OCR extractor JPEG, TIFF, PDF, PNG, GIF, etc. $40-50 + an annual fee (25% of base purchase price)
Nomacs Image viewer; limited editor JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF, etc. Free
Photoshop View, edit, and convert images JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF, etc. $120/ year (advanced plan); $70-150 (basic plan)
XnConvert Image converter JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF, etc. Free for private or educational use (including non-profit organizations); about $20 for commercial use

Image Software: Guides & Resources
Document Software

Software for the viewing, editing, and converting of digital document files.

Software Description Supported Formats Cost
Adobe Acrobat (editor) View, edit, and convert documents; embed OCR PDF, TIFF, JPEG, etc. $150-180/ year
Adobe Acrobat (reader) PDF viewer (no editing) PDF Free
Foxit (editor) View, edit, and convert documents; embed OCR PDF & JPEG $129-159
Foxit (reader) PDF viewer (no editing) PDF Free
Multi-Page TIFF Editor View, edit, and convert images and documents; OCR extractor JPEG, TIFF, PDF, PNG, GIF, etc. $40-50 + an annual fee (25% of base purchase price)
PDFill (PDF Tools) Limited PDF editor & converter PDF, JPEG, TIFF, etc. Free

Document Software: Guides & Resources
Video Software

Software for the viewing, compressing, editing, and converting of digital video files.

Software Description Supported Formats Cost
HandBrake Convert & compress videos AVI, DVD, FLV, MKV, MOV, MP4, MPG, etc. Free
Shotcut Edit and convert videos AVI, DVD, FLV, MKV, MOV, MP4, MPG, etc. Free
VLC Media Player Video viewer; limited converter; screenshots AIFF, AVI, CD, DVD, MOV, MP3, MP4, WAV, etc. Free

Video Software: Guides & Resources
Audio Software

Software for the editing, recording, and converting of digital audio files.

Software Description Supported Formats Cost
Audacity Audio editor & recorder AAC, AIFF, AU, FLAC, MP3, WAV, WMA, etc. Free
fre:ac Audio converter AAC, FLAC, MP3, WAV, WMA, etc. Free
VSDC Free Audio Converter Audio converter AAC, AIFF, MP3, WAV, WMA, etc. Free

Audio Software: Guides & Resources
OCR Software

Software for the embedding and extracting of OCR (optical character recognition) from digital files.

Software Description Supported Formats Cost
Adobe Acrobat (editor) View, edit, and convert documents; embed OCR PDF, TIFF, JPEG, etc. $150-180/ year
Foxit (editor) View, edit, and convert documents; embed OCR PDF & JPEG $129-159
FreeOCR OCR extractor TIFF, JPEG, & PDF Free
Multi-Page TIFF Editor View, edit, and convert images and documents; OCR extractor JPEG, TIFF, PDF, PNG, GIF, etc. $40-50 + an annual fee (25% of base purchase price)

OCR Software: Guides & Resources
Bulk Renaming Software

Software for the bulk renaming of files and folders.

Software Description Supported Formats Cost
Advanced Renamer Batch file and folder renamer JPEG, TIFF, PDF, MP3, etc. Free for personal use; $30 for commercial use
Bulk Rename Utility Batch file and folder renamer JPEG, TIFF, PDF, MP3, etc. Free for personal use; $93 for commercial use

Bulk Renaming Software: Guides & Resources
Checksum Software

Software that can create and verify checksum values for the purpose of monitoring digital files over time. A checksum is a sequence of letters and numbers used for the purpose of detecting any errors or changes that may have occurred with a digital file during storage, transmission, etc.

Software Algorithms Cost
FastSum MD5 Command Line Edition is free; Standard Edition is $15
File Checksum Utility MD5, SHA-1, SHA-256, SHA-512 Free
HashMyFiles CRC32, MD5, SHA-1, SHA-384, SHA-512 Free
HashTools CRC32, MD5, SHA-1, SHA-384, SHA-512 Free
Md5Checker MD5 Free

Checksum Software: Guides & Resources