Greetings from the Scanning Suite here at St Andrews’ Special Collections, home of our two Bookeye scanners –including our brand new Bookeye 3 colour scanner!– and the three Reprographics Technicians who operate them.
Here are a few notes about our operation. The bulk of scanning fulfils a contract the University holds with Tanner Ritchie Publishing, the Canadian outfit behind Medieval and Early Modern Sources Online, or MEMSO. A quick scroll down the Recently Published list on the Tanner Ritchie homepage reads very familiar to us here as every e-book listed on the site has come through our hands. Most of the books are from series of British records, such as the 17th century Journals of the House of Commons, the seemingly innumerable volumes of Calendar of State Papers from various times and places, and the more specific series of documents such as the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland.
The value to researchers of having a digital version of such volumes, with text searching capabilities, is hard to underestimate… and a good thing to remember when we scanners are editing the thousandth page of seemingly indistinguishable lines upon lines of dates and place names! Indeed, for us it is not so much the content as the physical properties of the books that we consider first: the regularity of the print, the state of the binding, the size of book, the fragility and smoothness or waviness of the pages and even the fine relief caused by certain typeface all influence the complexity of the scanning task.
In other instances, however, the content of the material to be scanned is impossible to overlook, and indeed we scanners, like the Reading Room staff, are in the fortunate –and yes, sometimes challenging– position of coming into contact with a vast array of the material held in Special Collections. When we are not scanning material for Tanner Ritchie we process the myriad of requests that the department receives for reproductions. These requests range from scans of pages from books and manuscripts to large-scale maps and newspapers. The breadth of provenance and reasons behind consultation and reprography inquiries are only matched by the vastness and diversity of the collection itself: requests come from the neighboring buildings and from across the globe, from students, academics, hobby genealogists, amateur experts, and professionals in publishing, tourism, development.
Surprises and delights often await, as you may gather from the images in the gallery below. Enjoy!
The new Bookeye 3 colour scanner, ready to scan the 1910-1911 volume of the St Andrews Citizen.
The Bookeye 3 scanner in action.
The Calendar of State Papers on the shelves of the Main Library.
The spine of the 1644 Blaeu Atlas, showing contemporary repair (St Andrews copy at r17ff G1015.B6).
The engraved and coloured title page of the 1644 Blaeu Atlas (St Andrews copy at r17ff G1015.B6).
Title page of the 1776 Taylor & Skinner’s maps of the roads of North Britain and Scotland (St Andrews copy at ffG1826.R7 1776). This, and the following image, were scanned for a researcher in Geography who wanted to compare 18th century roads to current roads.
Three maps from the 1776 Taylor & Skinner’s maps of the roads of North Britain and Scotland (St Andrews copy at ffG1826.R7 1776) of the roads from Perth to Sterling, the roads from St Andrews to Woodhaven & Newport, and the roads from Cupar to St Andrews to Crail.
The manuscript score for “The Simmer Dim” for flute, harp, violin and violincello, by Cedric Thorpe Davie, 1951. From the papers of Cedric Thorpe Davie (ms37754-37758).
From Philip II of Spain, 1558, the first page of a contemporary transcript of a royal decree granting Don Francisco de Fonseca y Ageredo the right to enter into a certain legal agreement, in regards to his father’s estate, with his mother and sisters (ms38791).
A 19th century letter of recommendation, for George Magrath, for the study of medicine at St Andrews (UYUY350/878).
First of two pages of history of the L.A. (Literate in Arts) scheme for women introduced in the 19th century in St Andrews. From the St Andrews Alumnus Chronicle (St Andrews copy at StA LF1119.A2A6)
Second of two pages of history of the L.A. (Literate in Arts) scheme for women introduced in the 19th century in St Andrews. From the St Andrews Alumnus Chronicle (St Andrews copy at StA LF1119.A2A6)
A Magnolia, from Mark Catesby’s “Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands” (St Andrews copy at rff QH104.C2).
Robert Matheson’s architectural elevations of 71 North Street, 1911.
71 North Street as it appears now.
Engraving of the four temperaments from Johann Caspar Lavater’s “Essays on physiognomy” [London, 1789-98] (St Andrews copy at sf BF841.L2D89).
Description of the four temperaments from Johann Caspar Lavater’s “Essays on physiognomy” [London, 1789-98] (St Andrews copy at sf BF841.L2D89).
Page 31 from the first volume of Angelo Secchi’s “Le soleil” [Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1875-77] (St Andrews copy at s QB521.S4E75).
Page 53 from the first volume of Angelo Secchi’s “Le soleil” [Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1875-77] (St Andrews copy at s QB521.S4E75).
Page 61 from the first volume of Angelo Secchi’s “Le soleil” [Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1875-77] (St Andrews copy at s QB521.S4E75).