This Week in NDSA: Onion Paper at the Library of Michigan!

This Week in NDSA, Courtney Whitmore talks about scanning Michigan state law materials at the Library of Michigan, near the capitol in Lansing.

Working as a Student Digitization Assistant at the Library of Michigan is a lot of fun. I get to scan some interesting materials and there are processing puzzles galore.

Recently, we started scanning a set of volumes called “Michigan Court of Claims”. They are labor mediation dispute orders put out from the Court of Claims under the Justice Department. This particular set of volumes covers decisions made from 1941-1976.

We use a large overhead scanner called the “Indus Book Scanner 9000”. Personally, in my mind, I always pronounce it “INDUS NINE-THOUSAND”, in a really dramatic voice. It’s a flat bed scanner, with a glass-overlay. It is somewhat similar to the scanner covered last week, except that while the bottom panels separate in order to allow for the spine of a book, it does not cradle one in the same fashion.

induss 9000 scanner

The “INDUS 9000”

One of the issues we are having with scanning this material is the quality of the pages. Some of them are actually carbon copied on onion paper. It’s like a double-whammy: the carbon copy makes the text difficult to scan clearly and more difficult to OCR (software that recognizes text so that documents can be word-searchable); and the pages are somewhat translucent, so we have to insert a piece of white construction-type paper in between each page as we scan. It greatly slows down the process, but it has made for some interesting problem-solving for our team. For my part, it has been a great learning experience.

MIchigan court of claims bound dockets

Note how the text from one page can be seen through to the next or from the previous page. Troublesome.


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