Dec 282012

The weapons of the digital academic are:

  • A bookscanner
  • Scantailor (opensource software)
  • Calibre (opensource software)
  • A hacked nook
  • Determination for searchable, comment-able digital information

The program in which I am pursuing my PhD is quite loosely structured, allowing for an unparalleled amount of freedom. We do have a few basic requirements, such as creating your own reading list, getting it approved by a collection of academic scholars of your own selection, reading through all the books, and taking oral and written day-long examinations concerning the topics.  How one student determines to complete this task, however, is typically up to him or her.

My goal with this requirement is to freely share all the work I put into curating my list as well as the information and my notes that I compile over the next semester of intense reading. By the time I have finished my test, I hope to have a small, browse-able database containing all the books I went through. My aim with this transparency is to help future students access the information they are seeking and provide an example for how they can efficiently process large volumes of information.

The best method to do this, is to act like a true Digital Media major, and digitize everything I read. Unfortunately, most books are still only available as physical copies. On top of this, many of the books I have already found for my reading list are rare, younger than 1920, and not even available through Google Books. Thus I decided to cobbled together some designs created by the wonderful people at, and make my own non-destructive rapid bookscanning machine.


Overall it cost me about $350 including cameras, but it has already more than repaid this amount  in scanned library books, and also functions as a free public service for students and faculty in my department!



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All work Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0. 2017