The Wolfenbuettel Book Reflector

The Wolfenbuettel Book Reflector

For almost two years now the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbuttel has collaborated with Kaiser Fototechnik to design a device for careful support of old prints for digital reproduction. The device comes with a special camera tripod which will allow all regular analogue or digital cameras with a standard thread to be screwed onto it.

In future both the safeguarding and global retrieval of documents will be achieved through digitization. This is why it is necessary to have a device to support the archival object without causing stress or damage during the reproduction process. Traditional supports very often use a book cradle in which the book has to be opened to 180° to enable a double-page digitization. In many cases this is not possible with old books as it would cause damage to the bindings. Various devices already exist designed for a 90° opening angle, but experience shows that the book has to be opened to 100° - 110°. But for many books even the 90° angle is an unreasonable strain. That is why the Herzog August Bibliothek has developed and tested a 45° mirror design. The main advantage is the 45° opening angle which results in an effective 55° angle for the book. Recording is done by an digital camera capturing the image from a front-surface mirror.

The V-shaped mirror-glass construction can be moved manually in a vertical direction and located in the opened book by means of a smooth-working locking device. As a horizontal movement is not possible, focus does not need to be tracked. In this way it is necessary to align the camera to the book only once and digitization may start immediately.

To make this possible, the book support is mounted on a horizontally movable table, that allows the wedge to dive deep into the book's fold. The pages can be pressed against the glass construction with the support of rope drives. This may not be necessary when pictures are taken with a small aperture setting.

The Wolfenbuettel Book Reflector: Detail

The device is designed for books sized up to approx. 32 x 45 cm (12.5" x 18"). The special camera tripod supplied with the book reflector is equipped with an inclined stage camera carrier with standard tripod thread allowing use of any camera system with the desired resolution. By inverted enlargement - the captured image is a mirror image - reproductions on conventional chemical film are also possible. Images captured with digital cameras have to be side-inverted in the follow-up image processing. This is a feature of most image processing programs and can be done without problems.

It should be mentioned that because of the V-shape construction there is an area of about 3 - 5 mm next to the fold, that can not be captured. This limitation may not be important for the majority of books but could become relevant in particular cases. Complete reproduction of these books requires a larger opening angle involving increased strain.

In an exemplary way this product shows how libraries and public archives can handle and solve a problem in co-operation with industry and commerce. Information about purchasing a book reflector can be obtained at the Anagramm website.

Contact: Dr. Thomas Staecker