Map Imaging Service Providers

David Y. Allen


     For many institutions, outsourcing is the most practical way to carry out map digitization projects. High-resolution images of large maps cannot be obtained using the equipment available in most libraries, such as desktop scanners and ordinary digital cameras. Top quality high-resolution scanning of large maps requires such expensive equipment as digital view camera backs, oversized flatbed scanners, or specialized drum scanners. Only the largest institutions have the budget and support staff to be able to employ such equipment. Except for very large libraries with thousands of maps to digitize, outsourcing is the only alternative. And, given the rapid obsolesence of scanning equipment and the need for trained technicians, even the largest research libraries have outsourced map digitization projects.

     Anyone working with a service provider should be prepared to ask a number of questions, and to draw up a contract specifying exactly what is expected. It is always a good idea to ask vendors for references. A few things to consider: What is the cost per item? At what resolution will the maps be scanned? What type of image files will be provided? How will the scanned images be stored? What metadata, if any, will be provided? If some of the maps are to be scanned through mylar, what will be done to minimize reflections? How important is total color fidelity in mages of maps? What equipment will be used for scanning? In particular, attention should be paid to the pros and cons of using high-end digital cameras versus flatbed and sheet-feed scanners. This page concludes with a short bibliography of articles on digital imaging issues, which should provide readers with the necessary background information for working with vendors.


List of Digital Imaging Service Providers:


     The following is a list in alphabetical order of digital imaging providers and the equipment they use. The list is restricted to vendors that have the capability of imaging large maps (at least 36" wide) using scanners or high-resolution digital cameras. It excludes those who photograph maps and makes digital images from the negatives or transparencies (a widely available service). The list is doubtless incomplete, and will be updated as additional information is obtained. The inclusion or exclusion of particular vendors does not imply anything about the quality of their work. Also, no guarantees are made about the accuracy or completeness of the information provided here, and no recommendations are implied concerning particular vendors included in this list. Please send corrections and updates to David Allen.


Backstage Library Works
1180 80 S. 800 E.
Orem, UT 84097
Scans maps using either Vidar Titan Atlas Pro scanner or Better Light overhead camera

East View Cartographic, Inc
3020 Harbor Lane N
Minneapolis MN 55447-5137
(800) 477-1005, (763) 550-0965, (763) 253-0686
Uses Vidar Tru Scan Titan II Scanner

Luna Imaging, Inc
3542 Hayden Avenue
Building One
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 452-8730
Uses Fuji and Scitex scanners as well as digital camera backs

171 Kraft Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24060
(800) 468-8857, (540) 557-1200
Uses Tangent 5480 XLS document-feed scanner

Digital Data Services
Lakewood, Colorado
(866) DDS-SCAN, (303) 986-6740
Scans maps up to 50" wide using Contex sheet-feed scanners

JJT, Inc
5555 North Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78751
1-508- 747-9889
Uses Sinar digital cameras

Old Maps, LLC
Sedona, AZ
1-928- 282-3944
Uses 36" Contex color scanner

Visual Information, Inc
1031 13th Street
Suite 300
Denver, CO 80204
(303) 825-0413
Unable to obtain information about equipment


A Brief Bibliography on Digital Imaging of Maps:

Allen, David Yehling , "Creating and distributing high resolution cartographic images", RLG DigiNews, vol. 2, no. 4 (August 15, 1998) at : 2-4.html

O'Connor, Maura, "Rare Maps Digitisation Project" [National Library of Australia] at . Paper presented April 8, 1999.

Olsen, John A., "All Things Digital!: JPEG2000: Ride the Wavelet," Journal of Map & Geography Libraries, vol. 1 (1) 2004: 137-40.

Rumsey, David, "About the Collection," [description of technology used to digitize David Rumsey Collection] at .

Shawa, Tsering Wangyal, "What is the Best Resolution to Scan a Map?," baseline: a newsletter of the Map and Geography Round Table, vol. 24 (6) December 2003: 6 ff.

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