MHS News

ScanPro 2000: Not Your Mother's Microfilm Machine

ScanPro 2000The MHS recently acquired an exciting new piece of hardware through a grant from the Ruby W. and LaVon P. Linn Foundation: the ScanPro 2000, a compact microfilm viewer, scanner, and printer. Fundraising efforts led by MHS Fellow Frederic D. Grant resulted in the generous gifts of four donors and one charitable trust that have enabled the MHS to order two additional machines, which we expect to receive this fall. Light years ahead of the older, analog machines currently used at the MHS, the ScanPro, and its accompanying PowerScan software, will make the MHS collections more accessible to researchers.

The enhanced features include superior printing, digital scanning, image editing, and incredible zoom capabilities that create a much more user friendly, and potentially more fruitful, research trip to the library. The library staff was very impressed during the first demonstration of the machine when a microfilm reel containing pre-Revolutionary War diaries with dark images not legible on other machines was quickly adjusted to create clear, readable images.

The most extraordinary feature of the ScanPro is the printing and scanning capability. With a single mouse click the machine creates either a print out or a scan of the selected area in just a fraction of a second.  The scans can be loaded onto a flash drive and brought home, or e-mailed directly from the work station to a personal e-mail account. The quality of the printouts and scanned images is vastly superior to the quality of the printouts provided on our non-digital machines. 

In order to create such beautiful scans, the ScanPro allows researchers to edit the individual frames of the microfilm by cropping and rotating and adjusting the brightness and contrast of the images. The spot editing feature allows researchers to enhance a selected area of a frame, adjusting the brightness and contrast of a particularly dark spot to make a cohesive, legible image. This is particularly helpful for newspaper images, where the illustrative matter tends to be much darker on microfilm than the text. Finally, the powerful zoom feature allows researchers to see things in the microfilm that can barely be seen in the original document.

The ScanPro 2000 is currently available for use in the MHS library. Researchers that cannot visit the library can request digital files to be e-mailed to them by the library staff. Please see details at under "low resolution digital files."

Published: Monday, 2 August, 2010, 1:26 PM