Nothing frustrates me more than technology being wasted. My latest pet-peeve is the inability to scan documents – either by using a photocopying machine with scanning capability or microfilm scanner.

Many of those large Xerox machines that we use in libraries or photocopying places have the ability to scan as easily as it photocopy. Actually, the photocopying is nothing but a scan image that is printed onto paper. So, it would read the book page and instead of sending it to a blank page, it could send it to a computer attached to the machine. It would save me a lot of hassle – and space – if I could scan articles instead of photocopying them. But no, we have to own your own personal scanner even though you are making photocopies on machines quite capable of providing that service.

The same thing is possible with a microfilm scanner. As historians, many of the sources my friends and I use are in microfilm format. That means spending hours looking at a microfim reader’s screen and since it is so hard to stare at those screens for too long (trust me, I did it for a year and my eyes paid a heavy price), our solution is to print the pages we have to use frequently. That in itself might not be that inconvenient. Unfortunately, when you have to work with medieval manuscript sources, the quality of the photocopies are very iffy and often requires several wasted prints before you can figure out which ones work best. At U of T it often costs me almost a dollar for every page I need to print, because I need to waste 3-4 prints before I get one that is legible.

The frustrating thing is that my life would be way easier if I could scan the image as opposed to print it. That way I could play with contrast and view better the images that don’t look so good on screen. It is, after all, a microfilm scanner. So I asked the man working at the media department at the library where I view my microfilms why the scanner wasn’t attached to a computer so we could scan instead of print. He mumbled something about copyright, which is really a silly answer. I mean, if I can print, why can’t I scan? It really is the same thing! Besides, most content on microfilm predates copyright laws anyway.

My other pet-peeve is not being able to watch TV, all the regular channels available, on the internet, live. But that’s a topic for another rant.


Author: guerson

Food-obsessed historian and knitter.

4 thoughts on “Rant”

  1. Na faculdade eu tive muito problema com cópias de livros também, coincidentemente de História Medieval. Muitos estavam comidos por cupins e só de pegar no livro ele já ia se dissolvendo, portanto, cópia nem pensar!
    Para fazer os trabalhos de História da Arte eu tinha que ir à biblioteca para analisar as fotos dos quadros nos livros porque eles só tinham máquina copiadora em preto e branco!

    Essa questão de direitos autorais tb estava chatinha na minha época. Vc podia tirar cópia de 1 capítulo, mas não do livro inteiro…aí vc ia lá todo dia pra tirar cópia de 1 capítulo até ter o livro completo!
    Vc sabe como livro é caro no Basil. Estudante de História já é pobre por natureza, portanto, sem xerox ele não é nada nessa vida. Eu mesma não tinha condições de comprar os livros que recomendavam que eram justamente aqueles que vc nunca conseguia pegar na biblioteca porque já tinha uma longa fila de espera.Nesse sentido as máquinas copiadoras foram minha salvação…1 capítulo por vez.

  2. I hope getting the article for me didn’t prompt your rant!! :) I agree though and that’s why I was so thrilled when the ARV provided all of my documents in digital format this time instead of microfilm. It makes SUCH a big difference as I can work with them anywhere, rather than being stuck in the library media room. There is a digital microfilm reader at UTEP but I’m not sure if it’s attached to a scanner.

  3. I always had this dream about scanners right on the corner of all libraries. Scanned files are easier to carry around, catalog, organize and search. We can zoom in and out, edit… Above all things, we save some trees!

    I have my opinio about the “cultura da xerox” inside our universities, but.. as you say… that´s a topic for another rant..

  4. What drives me mad, Chico, is that in many cases, they wouldn’t even need a dedicated scanner. They already have photocopying machines that can scan as easily as it makes copies in many universities – particularly here in Canada. They just don’t use the feature. When I mention how much more convenient it would be to simply make electronic copies instead of paper copies, they simply mumble something vague about “copyright”. But how exactly does a pdf copy differ from a paper copy as far as copyright, goes?


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