McGill University Library embarks on a large-scale digitization strategy


Historic and unique collections will be accessible for generations thanks to high-speed robotic scanner made possible through partnership with U.S.-based Kirtas Technologies and Canadian reseller, Ristech

WORLD LIBRARY & INFORMATION CONGRESS: 74th IFLA General Conference and Council, AUGUST 10-14, 2008, QUEBEC CITY, CANADA – McGill University Library is entering a new era in digitization this Fall, through a unique partnership with U.S.-based Kirtas Technologies and Kirtas’ Canadian reseller, Ristech.

“The technology made available by Kirtas will allow us to reveal the treasures of McGill Library to the world and enable sophisticated means of resource discovery,” said Janine Schmidt, Trenholme Director of Libraries at McGill.

The Library will use a Kirtas APT BookScan 2400RA to digitize its collections in order to support the educational needs of its students and faculty, as well as making the collections available worldwide.

While the Library was an early adopter of digitizing books – their efforts began in 1996 – until now it has never had the ability to accommodate large-scale, mass digitization of texts from its diverse rare book collections.

Among the 300,000 titles housed in Rare Books and Special Collections at McGill University Library are collections of art and architecture, Canadiana, history, literature, philosophy (including an outstanding David Hume Collection), travel and exploration, and the history of the book. It is a true discovery library, actively supporting the teaching, learning and research needs of McGill students and faculty from all disciplines, as well as the wider scholarly community.

“Universities and libraries around the world are home to millions of rare books that generations to come should have access to and be able to learn from,” said Kirtas CEO and Founder Lotfi Belkhir. “McGill University’s Rare Books and Special Collections is a great example of why Kirtas was founded. I’m delighted we’re able to support this important initiative at McGill.”

Once the books are digitized and processed, files will be made available worldwide through the Library’s online catalogue and books can be printed on demand through major online retailers such as and

About McGill University
McGill, Canada’s leading university, has two campuses, 11 faculties, 10 professional schools, 300 programs of study and more than 33,000 students. Since 2000, more than 800 professors have been recruited to McGill to share their energy, ideas and cutting-edge research. McGill attracts students from 160 countries around the world. Almost half of McGill students claim a first language other than English – including 6,000 francophones – with more than 6,200 international students making up almost 20 per cent of the student body.

About McGill University Library
The Library provides the comprehensive information infrastructure necessary to sustain leading-edge teaching, learning and research activity at McGill University. It holds more than 6 million items in its various collections, which are located in 13 branches across McGill’s downtown and Macdonald campuses. Receiving over 3.5 million visits annually – or approximately 10,000 a day – and millions more visits online, it is an invaluable support system for all McGill students, with rich collections, comprehensive information resources, innovative services and attractive, comfortable facilities.

About Ristech
Ristech is a leading Canadian Distributor of Automated Digitization Technologies. Founded in 1995, Ristech sells and supports the technologies required to convert books, film and paper to digital images. The primary focus of Ristech is to provide mass digitization solutions to its clients. This is accomplished by offering a combination of Robotic Technologies combined with automated batch conversion software solutions and on-site technical support.

About Kirtas Technologies
Kirtas Technologies has pioneered and perfected the technology used today in quality, high-speed, nondestructive mass book digitization. The company’s revolutionary technology redefines digitization of all bound documents, delivering the gentlest handling, the highest image quality, faster and with fewer errors than any other solution in the marketplace today.

Contact Information

Deanna Vincent
Kirtas Technologies
dvincent [at]
Office Phone: 
585.924.2420, ext. 3037