Optical character recognition or OCR refers to technology that can be used to convert scanned images written on text into machine-readable format of text. OCR technology is one of the most modern technological developments that have aided greatly towards the paper to screen revolution.
OCR data extraction services are based on smart computer systems that rely on a range of complex algorithms. These systems cover various systems from image processing and pattern matching for feature identification to machine learning and deep learning for feature recognition. Today, optical character recognition services collectively have a value of about USD 10.62 billion. This value will expectedly increase with a 14.8% CAGR or compound annual growth rate from the years of 2023 to 2030.
OCR technology has been used in libraries for many years to digitize books and other documents. However, in the recent few years, smart optical character recognition technology has become more sophisticated, smart, and affordable. This has made it possible for libraries to use it in diverse types of ways. To add on, libraries can now use the technology to minimize their working load.
Understanding OCR Technology for Libraries
There are a number of ways that libraries use OCR technology. Some of the most common uses include:
OCR Solutions for Digitizing collections
Optical character recognition OCR allows us to digitize books, journals, newspapers, and other documents. This makes it possible for libraries to make their collections more accessible to users, both in the library and online.
Building and improving access to information
Today, OCR is helping improve access to information for libraries and their users. This access to information is improved by making it easier for users to search for and to retrieve documents. For example, we can now create searchable indexes of books and journals. If all books in a library are digitized, with headings marked separately, users can easily look for a particular piece of content. Through this, individuals do not have to rigorously and thoroughly go through heaps of content.
Saving time and money
The libraries of today have OCR solutions as a great technology at their disposal. In the past, institutions used to require large spaces, dozens of employees, and a ton of paperwork for management.
Today, libraries can save time and money by automating these tasks by using digital systems for data entry and indexing. For example, a library may use OCR technology to automatically extract metadata from documents, such as the author, title, and publication date. This removes the need to have extra employees and documentation for storing all this data. When such data is online, it has for itself even better protection, thanks to encryption, etc.
Benefits for Management
OCR technology can also benefit library managers in a number of ways. For example, OCR can be used to:
- Improve inventory management. OCR can create electronic catalogs of library materials. This makes it easier for library managers to track the availability of materials and to identify lost or damaged items.
- Reduce staffing costs by automating tasks such as data entry and indexing. This can help to free up staff for other tasks. Either you will need less employees, or your employees can engage in more productive tasks.
- Improving efficiency. OCR can help libraries function in more efficient ways by allowing them to streamline their processes. Furthermore, this can also help reduce errors. When the data is digitized through computer tech, it has better accuracy too. This is because using a human being for such a task holsd great likelihood of occurrence of human errors. For example, the person managing the work systems may tire due to the work pressure. Alternatively, they may simply miss something crucial for any other reason.
Benefits for Users
When it comes to the benefits that users can access, OCR might be one of the best techs. As previously mentioned, OCR technology allows libraries to store large bodies of text online. This in itself is a major benefit for users who don’t have to physically visit the library to access information. Rather, anyone can read any text from the comfort of their home. However, there are some other benefits of OCR technology for library users as well.
- Make it easier to find information. Finding a specific piece of information can be difficult in the library. OCR can help libraries to create searchable indexes of documents. This makes it easier for users to find the exact information they need.
- Provide access to materials that are not available in print: OCR technology can be used to digitize materials that are not available in print, such as old newspapers or rare books.
- Make it easier for users with physical or mental disabilities to access information: The fact that OCR helps digitize books makes it revolutionary for those with disabilities. OCR allows you to convert text into a variety of formats. These may be Braille or audio. These make it easier for users with disabilities to access information. Furthermore, people with attention disorders such as ADHD can use digital text in modified formats to read better. This includes services which allow users to bold the first two letters of each word to read better and faster. Similarly there are those that allow to bolden the first half of each word.
To sum up
OCR technology is constantly evolving. There are many emerging possibilities for its use in libraries. Today the tech is in use to create many services. For example, we can have real time OCR virtual reality tours of libraries and books, and also develop chatbots that can answer user questions. Similarly, we can also create personalized-learning experiences for users.
These factors make OCR technology a powerful tool. This can benefit us in improving the efficiency, accessibility, and user experience of libraries. As OCR technology continually evolves, it will play an even stronger role in digitization of libraries.