The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse library is full of documents that rarely see daylight.
They include 80,000 historic photos of La Crosse, 30,000 of small river towns from several decades ago and thousands of old postcards and maps.
That’s the case for a lot of libraries and government offices, said Sal Ayoob, a new business development representative for Indus International. Rooms fill with long-untouched records because putting them online is time-consuming and tricky.
The West Salem-based company is aiming to change that with a new product: the BookScanner 9000. It’s the first American-made overhead book scanner, Ayoob said, with key features that allow library and government offices to get documents online quicker for public use. Similar scanners made outside the U.S. cost an extra $5,000.
The new scanner supports books sizes up to 18 by 28 inches, 4 inches thick and weighing as much as 33 pounds. That’s an extra 4 inches and 13 pounds more than most leading scanners can handle, Ayoob said.
Since launching in January, the company has about 20 machines in service nationwide at institutions such as the Library of Congress, the University of Notre Dame and Pennsylvania State University.
It also should help stimulate the local economy, Ayoob said. Indus International hired another four staff and looks to add a few more.
UW-L is testing the BookScanner 9000 for a few weeks. Its library now just has regular office scanners.
Library staff already have put several hundred documents online, but that’s just a taste of what the school has, UW-L Special Collections Librarian Paul Beck said.
About 122,000 photos and recordings and thousands more rare books could go digital as well.
The challenge is finding money for the $25,000 machine.
Senior Librarian William Doering remains hopeful the school eventually will upgrade.
“People have no idea what’s in some of these boxes,” Doering said. “Right now, the scanner is on a wish list. For me it’s a priority. For others, we have other priorities.”