Hull History Centre the first in Europe to install the e-ImageData’s new ScanPro3000

The Hull History Centre is the archive and local studies library in Hull, England, that houses the combined collections of both the Hull City Council and Hull University archives and local studies resources.

July 5, 2013 – e-ImageData today announces that the Hull History Centre, a state-of-the-art public archive and local studies library, is the first in Europe to install its new compact ScanPro 3000 high definition digital microfilm scanners in a project to replace end-of-life legacy machines, standardise the type of equipment used, and ultimately enhance the public’s experience of using microfilm and microfiche readers to access its numerous local and national collections.

In a deal worth £45k, nine ScanPro 3000 microfilm scanners along with new PCs and 22 inch LED touch screens have been purchased with the equipment supplied by e-ImageData’s specialist reseller, Adem Limited. The scanners were chosen after evaluation of different models on the market as they offered value for money and the functionality required.

Opened in January 2010, the Hull History Centre [HHC] brings together the collections of Hull City Council, Hull University and the Hull Local Studies Library which used to be kept in three separate repositories. A pioneering collaboration between the university and the council, the £10.7 million centre was created after a £7.7 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund – the largest ever for a UK archive project. It provides greater accessibility and better presentation of the collections which take up 10 kilometers of shelving, equivalent to four crossings of the Humber Bridge.

HHC keeps a variety of collections on microfilm. This includes local newspapers such as the Hull Daily Mail (1885-2012) and Hull Times (1857-1984), parish registers, early shipping and fishing records, burgess rolls and electoral registers, and key family history resources such as birth, marriage and death records, along with indexes to wills and probate.

The existing viewing equipment was beginning to have a negative impact on customer service at the centre as getting parts for obsolete machines was getting harder and two had to be withdrawn as they couldn’t be repaired. HHC also had machines from a range of manufacturers for either microfiche or film which meant users had to swap workstations when they changed format, and printing wasn’t universal. Only certain units were connected to printers.

Simon Wilson, senior archivist, explains, "We investigated upgrading when we first moved into the new centre but the cost was prohibitive but as we draw to an end of our HLF funding we found that not only has technology moved on but prices have come down allowing us to revisit this again.”

Each ScanPro 3000 scanner features a 26 megapixel camera, nearly twice the optical resolution of competitive microfilm scanners, to provide the HHC with exceptional image quality previously not seen in the micrographics industry.

Eight ScanPro 3000 scanners will be installed for the public, and one for staff only, with the large touch screens chosen based on advice from other libraries as they are considered less of a barrier for people to use in contrast to traditional computers with keyboards.

In addition, the new scanners allow members of the public to view both microfiche and film from one device thus enabling HHC to simplify its environment and reduce the number of machines in operation. The ScanPro 3000 has the smallest footprint of any microfilm scanner in the market thus freeing up space compared to existing large and cumbersome viewing equipment.

Furthermore, all the ScanPro 3000 scanners will be networked so that users can print from each, with a new A3 printer installed to provide large format capability.

Alan Davies, Adem Limited’s managing director says, “We were asked to evaluate and recommend the best way forward for HHC to upgrade its legacy equipment. Having worked with Hull Library Services for over 12 years, we’re proud to be involved and be the first reseller in Europe to install the new ScanPro 3000 scanners in such a prestigious new facility.”

The ScanPro 3000 scanners come with a variety of innovative and useful features to allow HHC to offer a better service to the public. Capitalising on the high definition camera, a powerful zoom function enables document enlargement of up to 800% to make even the smallest print legible, with automatic colour, brightness, contrast, rotation and focus controls available by using the intuitive touch screens. This means users can select whole documents or specific areas they want to print with image quality guaranteed.

Mr. Wilson adds, “When a roll of microfilm needs to be used, the ScanPro 3000 senses this and a video starts automatically showing people the correct loading procedure. It’s visual and engaging and helps those who are inexperienced use the equipment and work at their own pace without having to rely on or wait for staff to help them. It will encourage more people to use the scanners to get the information they want.”

The new ScanPro 3000 scanners will be located in the HHC’s family history area and available from July 6, 2013.

Mr. Wilson says, “This project is a service improvement exercise. We’re removing legacy equipment to have the latest digital microfilm reader technology for the public – and are the first to do so - which means navigating and viewing our collections will be that much easier and faster.”

David Stephens, e-ImageData’s international sales manager concludes, “Micrographic information created over the last 40 years or so is still totally accessible, something that’s not the case with obsolete digital media like floppy disc or WORM drives. It’s a great preservation medium. By using our ScanPro 3000 scanners, we’re able to provide HHC access to its valuable historic records in a cost effective and simple way.”