High quality digitization of the Duchess Anna Amalia Library’s collection

Goethe in Weimar's digitization center

The digitization department of the Herzogin Anna Amalia library, HAAL, in Weimar specializes in the high-quality digitization of books and manuscripts. Camera systems from Phase One have been used there for more than ten years. A total of three high-resolution camera systems, together with the Capture One CH software, constitute the powerhouse of digitization work center in Weimar. Read the first part of our customer case study with the Klassik Stiftung Weimar, one of the most renowned cultural heritage research institutions.

Fire destroyed many valuable items

The HAAL learned about the importance and value of digitizing cultural assets from a painful experience: during a devastating fire in the library in 2004, around 50,000 works fell victim to the blazes, and more than 60,000 were damaged. Their goal is to create a reproduction that is as close as possible to the original object through optimal technical equipment.

HAAL is a renowned archive and research library. The digitization center is attached to the library’s study center with the digitized materials serving as the basis for scholarly work: reproducible originals that can be used in the long term, so that the original exhibits can be preserved for use by scholars and researchers. A predominant part of the digitized material is publicly accessible – independent of exhibitions and opening hours.

© Klassik Stiftung Weimar

Andreas Schlüter heads the HAAL’s Digital Development department. He is joined by photographer and head of the photo library Hannes Bertram and four other staff members in the “work station,” as Andreas Schlüter calls the highly equipped digitization center.

Impressive data volumes

There are currently 29,000 works with 3.7 million individual pages in the HAAL’s digital inventory. The data volumes involved in their high-quality digitization projects are impressive: the current data stock is 130 terabytes in size. Every year, the archive grows by 20 percent. This is ensured by around 300,000 new recordings added annually through the work of the digitization center. “The digitized files are treated and secured with the same care and meticulousness as the originals,” explains Andreas Schlüter. This also includes multiple data backups of the digital repository.

© Klassik Stiftung Weimar
High demands on quality and efficiency

The requirements for digitization at the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek are correspondingly high: Careful handling of the originals, the highest detail resolution and repro-technical color fidelity during digital capture, as well as compliance with imaging standards. In addition, ensuring consistency in the digitization process yields to a consistent quality in the digital collection.

The HAAL mainly digitizes flat originals in small and large formats: Books, analog reflective and translucent originals. “From breadcrumbs to map folios, we can digitize almost anything,” explains Andreas Schlüter. Special repro setups, into which Phase One camera systems are flexibly integrated, are used for capturing the various types of originals in each case. The lighting depends on the setup and the task. “We use continuous lighting to achieve even and constant illumination over a wide area. In addition to the daylight fluorescent lamps with a color temperature of 5,500 Kelvin, LED panels are also used,” explains Hannes Bertram.


Phase One’s modularity a key advantage

Efficient workflows and equipment are required to create digitized images of the various originals with the highest level of care and quality. Phase One’s modularity plays an essential role in the digitization department. This is especially true in comparison to repro scanners, which are usually designed specifically for certain formats or types of originals. Phase One’s camera systems, on the other hand, can be used for a wide variety of document types and sizes by selecting the appropriate lenses and integrating them with the necessary lighting and reprographic equipment. These include classic repro table setups or the capture of glass negatives with a transmitted light setup.

The system’s comprehensive modularity was our main reason for choosing Phase One, in addition to its high quality and reliability.

Andreas Schlüter

Head of Digital Development Department at HAAL

Phase One at the HAAL

Currently, the digitization center in Weimar operates three Phase-One camera systems: The Phase-One iXG 100MP system, installed in March 2019, records at 100 megapixels, while the Phase-One iXH 150MP camera, acquired in 2021, delivers 150 megapixel resolution. The iXH 150MP uses a latest-generation Back-Side-Illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor for highest resolution, color fidelity and high dynamic range. Both camera systems feature equipment specifically designed to meet the unique requirements of cultural heritage digitization projects. For example, the PPI-Assist function enables precise measurement of the distance to the recording object and automatically calculates the image scale (PPI). This allows for accurate positioning of the camera on the repro stand.

Stay tuned for the second part of this case study, covering their work with multispectral imaging and the Capture One CH software, completing their whole set up for an efficient and holistic digitization workflow.

About the Herzogin Anna Amalia Library

The HAAL is a publicly accessible archive and research library for European literary and cultural history, with a special focus on the period between 1750 and 1850. More than 1 million media are available for loan and use, and around 150,000 volumes can be used and borrowed on site in the open access area of the study center. The historic library building with its famous rococo hall is visited by around 100,000 people per year. The Herzogin Anna Amalia Library is part of the Klassik Stiftung Weimar (KSW), one of the most important cultural institutions in Germany.

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