[Taxacom] BHL survey: scan quality

Karl Magnacca kmagnacca at wesleyan.edu
Fri May 7 12:36:07 CDT 2010

"Francisco Welter-Schultes" <fwelter at gwdg.de> wrote:
> One of the highest levels of agreement (73 %) was recorded
> for the scan or image quality. Being a taxonomist myself I know that
> the scan quality (for example when I look up plate figures) provided
> by Smithsonian, Natural History Museum London, Harvard and Missouri
> Botanical Garden are relatively low. Does the high level of
> agreement with the scan quality mean that plate figures are not
> needed for your work, only the texts? Or does it mean that you are
> happy that anything is provided at open access at all, so that you
> did not dare to complain about the quality?

I missed the survey, but I would also say that the scans are mostly
relatively poor quality.  The problem, IMO, is not even so much the
raw resolution quality - while there are occasional problems, it's
usually at least acceptable - as that the text is scanned in very
low-contrast color, often ending up with brown text against a tan
page.  In addition to being hard to read, this results in a file
that is not only large overall, but takes a full second or two for
each page to resolve as you're scrolling through, which is a real
pain if you're flipping through to find something.  Some others I've
used are scanned in B&W and work faster, but are so faint as to be
almost impossible to read.  I almost hate to say it, but I'm always
happy to find another copy scanned by Google Books, because the
quality is much better.

Karl Magnacca
Postdoctoral Researcher
University of Hawaii-Hilo

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