Blog: Going paperless

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This is something I've been meaning to blog about for a while, but I'm going paperless in my office. I've been scanning down my large library of photocopied journal articles and reducing them to PDFs which I store on my RAID network area server. It's a slow process, but I'd like to be done by the end of the semester which is when we're moving office spaces (again).

My current workflow is:

  1. Scan using a Fujitsu ScapSnap
  2. OCR using Adobe Acrobat
  3. Index using Spotlight
  4. Rinse, repeat.

Adobe Acrobat 7.0 for the Mac is buggy and has problems with some of the PDFs that ScanSnap generates, so I'm looking forward to seeing if Acrobat 8 solves them. I haven't been able to find other good OCR solutions for batch processing PDFs so if you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them.

One of our grad students (hi Allison!) is totally paperless - she scans all of her course readings, fieldnotes, and other ephemera as soon as she receives them. I wish I had been paperless from the start, it would have saved me a lot of work lugging all of these files halfway across the USA and back!

Here are some good blogs on going paperless:


Great work! While I haven't gone completely paperless, I have been archiving copies of any electronic articles and such I've uncovered over the past several years.

I found this to be a great resource when doing the fieldwork for my dissertation - before leaving, I identified every article I had that related to my subject (Chilean forestry and environmental policy), and burned several copies onto CD-R. Whenever I had a day without scheduled interviews, I would visit libraries (public and private), each of which I offered a free ("no strings attached") copy of the 1000 or so articles. In virtually every case, they offered me free fotocopying privileges out of gratitude.

The result: I returned home with around 4000 pages of (non-electronic) archival materials. While I did not digitize these (due to the generally low quality of the copies themselves), that corpus ultimately played a critical role in my research.

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This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on April 15, 2007 7:36 AM.

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