Chapter scanning FAQ

Is there any extra charge to me or my department/school for this service?

Not at all. Chapter scanning is available free of charge to anyone registered as an instructor or teaching assistant on Blackboard.

How much material can I request – is there a limit on the amount of book chapters?

We’re restricted by the ICLA guidelines to a single chapter (or 10%) of any book.  There’s no limit on the amount of chapters you can request, but we can’t upload two chapters from the same book to the same course unless both chapters still fall under 10% of the total pages – which is sometimes possible in the case of very long books (or very short chapters).

I’ve already submitted the reading list for my course to the subject support staff.  Is there anything else I need to do?

If you’ve submitted your reading list and requested for particular chapters/articles to be scanned, subject support staff will check your reading lists, and confirm availability of course material in the library.  Where necessary, they will order books and put high-demand titles on short loan if required.  Any chapter scanning requests will be forwarded to us.

NB please indicate in the “Note for library” field if you want this material to be digitised.

If you have any particularly urgent material that needs to be scanned for Blackboard, you’re more than welcome to contact the digitisation team directly either in person or via email.  We’ll make every effort to make your course material available to Blackboard users as soon as possible.

How long does it take to scan a chapter and make it available on Blackboard?

A chapter of 30-40 pages can be digitised on our Kirtas Book Scanner in about 20 minutes.  Cropping and batch processing of the pages can take about that much time again, but once a book has been scanned it can go straight back on the shelves within half an hour.  While a book is being scanned it will appear as “checked out” on the Library catalogue.  A significant amount of the material that we scan is from books that are in very high demand, so it’s in everybody’s interest that print copies are made available again for Library users as soon as possible.

Every chapter scanning request is recorded on the university’s Web Help Desk and as a registered member of NUI Galway you can log in and check the progress of your request.

What file format is used?

All of our uploads are in the standard PDF format, readable on any computer that can run Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available by default on all campus PCs.  Most web browsers can also display PDFs.

Can users download the chapter and read it offline?

Usually you should be able to save it to your hard drive, either by selecting File > Save As… from your browser’s menu bar (when the PDF is displayed in the browser window), or by right-clicking on the link to the document and selecting Save Link As… 

If you can’t download the document, that usually means that 1) whoever runs the Blackboard course module has elected to prevent downloading of material, or 2) the PC you’re using doesn’t support downloading of files.

Once you’ve downloaded the file, you can view it with Acrobat Reader (see above).  Mac users can also view it in Preview.

What information do you need in order to upload chapters to Blackboard for my course?

Most importantly we’ll need to know the course module as given on Blackboard and the number of students enrolled in the class, if that’s available, for our own records.  If you don’t know yet how many students are enrolled, we usually make an educated guess based on past enrolment numbers.  Obviously, we also need to know the name of the book and the title / pages of the chapter or article.

It’s worth noting that the larger the class size, the higher the priority.

I haven’t got this book to hand but I have a photocopy of the chapter.  Can I send it on to you for scanning?

Unfortunately we can’t (for the usual legal reasons) scan “copies of copies”.  We need to have the original.  This also applies to material obtained via inter-library loan.  If there are no copies currently available on the shelves we can recall a book that’s on loan.  If the book required is on order but hasn’t arrived yet, it’s usually possible to scan a staff member’s copy.  Be assured that the digitisation centre, which is part of the Special Collections complex in the Hardiman Research Building, is a very secure facility and your books are quite safe.

I’m an undergraduate student; everyone in my class needs to have this chapter read by next week and there’s only one copy in the Library.  Can it be scanned ASAP?

We’re committed to make as much course material available via Blackboard as possible, and of course we’d be happy to scan a book chapter that’s in high demand.  The only pre-requisite is that the lecturer consents to it, so we need their express permission to upload material to their course on Blackboard.  By all means let your lecturer know this service is available and refer them to this page – there is strength in numbers after all!  If necessary we may contact the lecturer ourselves.

I prefer to use Moodle instead of Blackboard for the class I teach.  Could you send the chapter(s) on to me via email and I’ll upload to Moodle from there?

Unfortunately Virtual Learning Environments other than Blackboard aren’t currently supported.  Even if you don’t use Blackboard, the University will have created a module on Blackboard for your course by default.  Once we upload to your course on Blackboard, you can get there with your campus login, download the files and use them as you like.  Legal restrictions prevent us from sending PDF documents of Library material directly to users.

Do I need to give you my login details for Blackboard?

That’s not necessary.  CELT gives our digitisation team temporary access to course modules on Blackboard for the sole purpose of uploading Library material.  They give us this access on the very strict proviso that we won’t otherwise alter your course content.

Can you upload the same chapter for two different courses?

Blackboard makes it possible to move or copy content from one course to another, as long as you’re enrolled as an instructor on both courses.  If you request the same chapter for two or more courses, we’ll upload it and copy it to the other course – other than that, as mentioned, we won’t make any alterations to your course content.

Once you’ve uploaded the chapters, where do I find them?

When Blackboard creates a course it generates a number of default folders.  By default, we upload to the Learning Materials folder unless you specify otherwise.  Once it’s uploaded you can move it wherever you like.

According to the copyright guidelines provided, you can only scan 10% of a book.  I need to upload a single chapter that actually takes up slightly more than that.  Is this possible or can you only scan a excerpt of the chapter?

The rule of thumb is 10%, or a single chapter, whichever comes first.  So if you’ve assigned a lengthy chapter that happens to be longer than 10% of the book, that’s still within the letter of the law as we understand it.

I’ve assigned a number of journal articles, most of which are available online via the Library catalogue.  There is one article from a journal that’s only available in print in the Library.  Can this be uploaded?

Absolutely.  The same guidelines apply: a single article from an issue of a journal, or 10% of that issue, whichever comes first.  If the journal, book chapter or other reading is already available online, though, we can’t scan or upload it.

The chapters you uploaded for us last year were a great help.  Can you make them available again this year?

As far as we know, Blackboard carries forward course documents from one year to the next.  If this hasn’t happened for whatever reason, you should still be able to copy the files from last year into the current one as long as you’re enrolled as an instructor on both courses.

It would be a great advantage for students to be able to search the uploaded PDF for individual terms.  Is it possible to upload a Word document instead of a PDF? 

Anyone on campus who has access to Adobe Acrobat Professional and Microsoft Office should be able to convert a PDF to a Word document if they so desire.  We wouldn’t encourage it, however, for purely aesthetic reasons.  (Try it yourself and see what you think.)  

Every PDF we upload is run through an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) engine.  This recognises the text in the document and results in a PDF that is text-searchable.  Text can be copied and pasted into Word or any other text-editing program.

That sounds great.  However, the chapter I’d like you to upload is in a foreign language / uses unusual characters.  Is that a problem?

Generally not.  The OCR engine that we use recognises a wide variety of languages – notably, we’ve had great results scanning documents in Irish.  Our software can even recognise Arabic and Cyrillic script.

Some academic institutions and libraries offer PDF copies of articles that can only be read a set number of times, or printed once.  Is that a problem here?

Not at all.  We’ve seen limitations like that imposed on material from other institutions, but there are no such restrictions on anything scanned from the Hardiman Library.

Will a chapter that contains photographs, or charts and tables, take longer to scan?

It won’t take any longer to scan (i.e. it will be back on the shelves for Library users ASAP).  It may however take longer to process.  For the purposes of the aforementioned OCR, as well as keeping a small memory footprint for web users, it’s necessary to “segment” the document into images and text.  If the chapter uses a lot of colour graphics, we may just scan it in full colour – but this will take longer to scan and process, and will probably result in a larger file size.

Last year, you uploaded a chapter from a particular book to my course.  This year I’ve assigned a different chapter from the same book.  Is it possible to upload this new chapter if I delete the old one?

Yes it is, and apparently you can still retain the old chapter for this year on Blackboard if you want.  Our understanding of the copyright guidelines (see disclaimer below) is that we can only upload one chapter from that book in a single academic year.  The following year, we can upload a different one.  In theory, it could be possible to make an entire 12 chapter book available on Blackboard for your course – though it would take 12 years…

I’ve published a paper in an online journal that I’d like to make available to my class.  The Library doesn’t have a subscription to this journal but I have my own personal copy of the article.  Can you scan that?

That’s certainly possible if you own a copy.  Alternatively, if you’re an NUI Galway staff member you can submit your own published research papers to ARAN, our online open-access research repository.  As long as you submit your own personal copy (not the publisher’s copyrighted copy), and provide a link to the published version, we can make it freely available on ARAN via the Library website.  If you’ve assigned it as a reading, you can always link to the ARAN version on Blackboard.

This looks like a great service, but I’ve opted to get my course material scanned elsewhere and upload the chapters myself / distribute them as handouts in class.  Being limited to a single chapter of a book is a bit restricting.

It’s your course, you’re the instructor and it’s not our place to tell you how to do your job.  Plenty of instructors copy and print course material and distribute them as handouts, in print and via Blackboard or their own VLE of choice. 

Please remember that ICLA’s copyright guidelines don’t just apply to the Hardiman Library, Blackboard, or NUI Galway – they apply to all higher education institutions in Ireland, for printed as well as online material.

We get to see a lot of course content on Blackboard, and we’re well aware that plenty of people scan their own material and upload it, all above board and with no infringement involved.  Perhaps they don’t know about the scanning service.  Perhaps they’d prefer not to use it.  Perhaps they don’t want to trouble us.  Perhaps they think they’re doing us a favour and saving us work.

Well and good.  We’re proud of the service we provide, however, and we can offer high-quality, OCR-scanned, text-searchable PDF documents. Our work is specifically tailored to support teaching and learning, and we’re committed to making as much material available as possible within the guidelines set out.

Questions? Comments? Thoughts? Suggestions?  We want to hear from you.

Disclaimer: Our knowledge of copyright law is necessarily limited, and any assertions we make about copyright restrictions WRT acceptable library practice are obviously open to correction.  Our digitisation service makes every effort to comply with the University and the Library’s Strategic Plan as we understand it, and we appreciate any necessary clarification in this regard.



One thought on “Chapter scanning FAQ

  1. Pingback: Chapter and verse. | digitisation at the james hardiman library

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