Imaging Studio

Nick Cistone, from Imaging Services, writes…

The Bodleian Libraries Imaging Services department has been operating since the mid-1970s. Prior to this, it operated under the Oxford University Press within the New Bodleian Library, capturing collections on microfilm, glass plates and varying prints sizes.

Today, the operation is entirely digital, with our team of camera technicians capturing manuscripts, early printed books, paintings and three dimensional subjects. This is achieved using our high-end digital cameras, studio lighting and specialized book cradles designed to digitize fragile and rare volumes without applying any stress to their delicate bindings.

We currently have three camera stations working on capturing high-end colour images for a variety of publishers, private researchers, and readers worldwide. Within the Imaging Studio, we also continue to produce digital files from our vast collections of surrogate negatives, glass plates and microfilm, using film scanners specifically designed for this purpose.

Each year, Imaging services fulfils approximately 1,300 customer orders. A photographic request can range from one, to thousands of images. These photographic requests go to our busy administration team of researchers, the accounts department and book-ordering staff, before a designated camera technician fulfils each request.

Once the photography is completed, each image goes through our quality assurance procedure before being delivered to the customer. Delivery can be on CD/DVD ROM, in colour or black  and white prints, or over the Internet, via File Transfer Protocol (FTP).

We check the metadata (a description and other information about each image) are accurate as part of our quality assurance. This information will include camera data, the book’s shelfmark and folio or page number. Finally, we archive the images for use in the future.

Alongside customer orders, the studio is also kept busy with undertaking internal scanning projects. One project that will be keeping us busy soon is a joint venture with the Vatican. This will involve 2 dedicated camera technicians working to capture 500,000 images over 3 years, adding to our ever-growing digital archive.

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