One thing I would stress when handling old maps is that carefulness is key. Whatever approach you use, be sure to support the entire map and not cause anymore damage to it.
If I were a GLAM, I'd be a bit hesitant about allowing volunteers to do this without training. Maybe it would be a good idea to intern at a GLAM doing conservation and archival stuff before trying to scan in their maps?

From: Stephen Bain <>
To: Wikimedia Commons Discussion List <>
Sent: Wed, March 10, 2010 10:22:08 PM
Subject: Re: [Commons-l] Digitising large, fragile old maps?

On Thu, Mar 11, 2010 at 9:35 AM, geni <> wrote:
> While very large flatbed scanners do exist the only way to do it with
> a reasonable budget is to place on a flat surface and photograph
> straight down.

A handheld scanner would do the job (or, as someone suggested at
Slashdot, remove the lid from a regular-sized flatbed scanner, and
move either it or the map around to scan sections of it that can be
stitched together with software).

> Getting the lighting right is an absolute pain though.
> That can be kept good enough for rough and ready results by moving the
> camera further back and relying on distance to diffuse the flash.

Most GLAMs that allow people to do their own photography of materials
don't allow the use of flashes, for fear of damaging any
light-sensitive inks or papers; direct sunlight is out for the same
reason. I have been to several GLAMs, however, that will let people
bring in tripods for their cameras with permission, and that have
stands available for photography. I guess, check with your local
institution to see what services they can offer.

Doing this at home, a room with plenty of diffuse natural light - such
as one with a skylight - would be good.

Stephen Bain

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