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Less paper consumption thanks to "scan first"

News from Nov 04, 2022

This fall, the libraries of Freie Universität Berlin are changing their printing and copying services: In the future, digital duplication options via scan will be in the foreground - free of charge for all users. An outlook

In its 2019 Climate Emergency Declaration, Freie Universität Berlin set itself the goal of being climate neutral by 2025. The University Library is also committed to this goal, the sustainability mission statement, and the environmental guidelines of the FU and supports sustainable research, teaching, and studying. The Strategy for the University Library of Freie Universität Berlin 2020-2025 defines "sustainability and responsibility" as one of seven core values that guide the work in all FU libraries.

Against this background, the University Library, together with the management of the subject libraries, has decided to follow a nationwide trend and replace its printing and copying services in the future with free digital duplication facilities - scanning, scanning services - while phasing out printing on paper in the medium term. 

Free "Do It Yourself" scanning for library users is already standard in many libraries nationwide. This contrasts with a gradual but steady decline in the use of printing and copying services.

The expiration of the external service contract with the company Ricoh, which until now has operated the numerous paper-based printing and copying devices in the libraries for a fee, is now being used by the University Library as an opportunity to change its service in the coming winter semester.

What's next?

DIY book scanners in all libraries of Freie Universität

During the 4th quarter of 2022, this should be the case: Modern book scanners will be made available for free use at all locations of the university library. In addition to the already established digitization services, the scanners will enable users to create their own digitized copies and export them to various output formats.

Compared to the classic printer/copier, the new offer has several advantages: 

  • Free of charge – Unlike the use of the previous multifunction devices, the use of the new book scanners will be free of charge for all library users in the future. Page-by-page billing and chargeable miscopying are now a thing of the past. Also, a copy card (Campuscard / Mensacard), which must be charged in advance, is no longer required. 
  • Ecological – „Scanning instead of copying" is a simple way to reduce your own ecological footprint. By copying documents paperlessly, each individual makes a small contribution to resource-efficient studying, research, and teaching - and thus to achieving Freie Universität's climate goals. 
  • Sustainable – in both senses of the word: digital reproduction ensures permanent availability of documents. Automatic text recognition (OCR) makes the digitized files stored in PDF format searchable; they can be further processed, annotated and shared with others in fully digital form.

The new book scanners make digital copies easily available for export to a USB stick ("scan to stick"). As an additional expansion stage, the option of exporting to a cloud ("scan to box") is also to be offered in the future. 

The new service offering will include a total of 27 scanners distributed across 13 library locations. As a standard, formats up to A3 size can be scanned; A2 formats will also be possible at selected locations. 

What remains?

Scan tents for smartphone users

Another option for digitizing printed media quickly and in a resource-saving manner continues to be the scan tents, which have already been introduced at selected library locations of Freie Universität in the fall of 2021 as part of a pilot project.

They enable users to scan independently with their smartphones under good lighting conditions. Here, too, use is free of charge, and handling is intuitive: download and open any scan app - place the smartphone on the tent - place the book or documents in the tent - scan according to the app instructions - and you're done. The scan tent can be used to scan formats up to A3 size.

Scan tents are currently available at Campusbibliothek, Philologische Bibliothek, Rechtswissenschaftliche Bibliothek and the  Bibliothek für Sozialwissenschaften und Osteuropastudien

Printing with ZEDAT Print account

But even the classic printout is still part of the habits of some library users - this was shown, among other things, by a small survey on duplication behavior, which was conducted in the summer semester of 2021 via the social media channels of the university library. 

"Scan first!" instead of "Scan only!" is therefore the motto in the future: The libraries are now focusing their services even more strongly than before on digital duplication options. However, a reduced print service (still subject to a fee!) in cooperation with ZEDAT will be maintained for a transitional period in order to facilitate the gradual transition to largely paperless work for users. 

In view of Freie Universität's environmental guidelines, we will no longer offer the option of making copies in the libraries - if necessary, interested parties can find a number of commercial providers not far from the library locations.

What’s next?

Together with the operating company, the university library is currently preparing the service changeover to the new devices. The scanners are scheduled to go into operation during the 4th quarter of 2022. 

ÜOf course, we will inform you in due time about the concrete time of introduction and commissioning, the exact distribution of the new book scanners to the library locations as well as all practical details about their use - here in the Biblioblog, on the website of the University Library as well as on the websites of the subject libraries. 

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