Nov 13 2012

Scanners Get High Marks for Document Management

The latest scanners help colleges handle tasks such as digital archiving and records imaging.

Scanners continue to play a major role in document management at colleges and universities. New models offer faster scanning, more precise imaging and, when combined with web-based document management systems, faster response times.

The University of North Texas Libraries in Denton, Texas, relies on a mix of duplex and sheet-fed scanners to make electronic copies of research documents available to students and the general public.

Jeremy Moore, lab manager of UNT’s digital projects unit, says the fleet of scanners includes the Fujitsu 4340C for high-volume duplex scanning of government documents and Epson’s Perfection V700 and Expression 10000XL flatbed scanners for slides, negatives and photographic prints. Moore says the technology has helped the library become an information hub for the state. 

For example, on UNT’s Portal to Texas History project, Moore’s unit works with more than 200 libraries, museums, archives, historical societies and private family collections statewide to keep the online history site current by scanning in documents. The portal stores 222,225 unique items, comprising 2.9 million files that cover the state’s prehistory to the present day.


The number of monthly visitors to UNT’s Portal to Texas History

SOURCE: University of North Texas Libraries

Other projects for the lab include the UNT Digital Library, which stores materials from the university’s research, creative and scholarly activities; and the CyberCemetery, an archive of discontinued government websites.

“It used to be that the library was a place where you got something specific, a book or a periodical,” Moore says. “Today, we are more of an information hub that offers 24-hour access via the web.”

Moore says the library also acts as the focal point for training on the new technology, including scanners and web-based resources.

“The library used to have a series of copy machines for people to copy documents and periodicals,” says Katey Wood, an analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group. “But now you need a person on hand to teach people how to use the new technology resources at the library.”

Daily Scanning

The IT department at the University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) also uses document scanners in its daily operations.

Cynthia Danko, an business systems analyst for the health system, says UMHS uses Fujitsu document scanners to image patient healthcare cards. The imaged cards are integrated into UMHS’ clinical workflow application, making the system much more efficient.

Copies are stored electronically rather than in file cabinets. Thus, paper copies of the cards are no longer needed, and documents can be retrieved much more quickly and easily.

“One of the nice features is that the system tells the outpatient clinician when the last time the card was scanned,” Danko says. “If it’s only a couple weeks before, they know that the person’s insurance information is current.”

What’s Next for Document Management?

Analyst Katey Wood of the Enterprise Strategy Group identifies five document management trends.

Less reliance on paper records. Even with more electronic devices coming into the workplace and a steady decline in electronic storage costs, many organizations still rely on paper records or have legacy paper assets in need of better management. More organizations are beginning to go digital and update their records policies, leveraging the increased speed and capacity of scanners coupled with optical character recognition and document management software such as Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft SharePoint, as well as new archiving and records management approaches.

Cloud computing. Organizations must figure out how best to use the cloud for document management. IT managers must decide if it works for their organization to manage storage in the cloud and, if so, what levels of privacy and security the third-party provider needs to deliver. Do they want all their contracts, transcripts and financial records in the cloud? Or do they want to store only unclassified e-mail records? Are cloud content and records management systems — which provide valuable collaboration and accessibility features — more useful than on-premises systems that can offer even richer features?

The rise of SharePoint. Microsoft SharePoint has become ubiquitous at many organizations, which find it to be a low-cost way to manage documents efficiently. However, as organizations move deeper into document management, they may find they’ll need an electronic content management system from a manufacturer such as EMC, IBM, OpenText or Oracle. Such products offer more advanced workflow and security features and can provide native features that scale across an enterprise network.

Mobility. As workers become more mobile, IT managers have to decide to what extent an organization’s document management system will accommodate the many mobile devices coming into the workplace. For example, will staff be able to access documents on their tablets and smartphones?

Information governance. Now that all electronic records are discoverable in court, IT shops have to set stricter policies for such records — a daunting task as data becomes more diverse and dispersed across formats, networks and devices. This includes not only setting policies for retention and deletion, but specifying how the records policies will be enforced, monitored and updated.


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