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St. Mary Parish Scans Legal Records

St. Mary's Parish is similar to thousands of counties and parishes around the country, with a county seat (Franklin), small towns, agriculture and industry. Though it's not a major metropolitan area, the clerk of courts office stays busy with the criminal, civil and public records cases and paperwork that are common to governments of all sizes. For a small parish, St. Mary sees a consistent stream of document
requests. Haydel says, "On average I'd say we make 75 copies a day. [We needed] to have something
that could work faster and would pick up the edges--the fine print and
the handwritten notes.

Becky Haydel is assistant clerk of courts for Saint Mary Parish. She is responsible for fulfilling many of the requests for information that come from members of the public. She says that there are a variety of factors that can make meeting the public need a challenge. "Many of our records go back as far as the 1800s, and they're not in as good a shape as the newer ones are," she explains. The older records are of interest to people with many different interests. Haydel says, "A lot of the abstractors who work for title companies, or people doing genealogy make requests because our marriages and criminal records go back into the 1800s. Some customers who write books need the information for the genealogy."

To help speed response to the requests while minimizing wear and tear on the physical records, the clerk of courts turned to A & E Office Machines, the company that had been selling and maintaining the copiers, typewriters and calculators for the parish. Company president Adam Crappel says that he began researching options for document handling, with a focus on dealing with the bound volumes of legal-sized documents that form the bulk of the records in the clerk's office, and was drawn to a recently-released Plustek scanner with touchscreen control. Crappel says, "I spoke with [Chief Deputy clerk of courts Jane C. Pilant], and we take care of their printers, faxes and now the scanner. I looked on the Internet to see which scanner could copy the legal size. When I located Plustek I called, spoke with Maggie, and we put a package together that we think is neat. We rely on our service to sell."

According to Mark Druziak, business development manager for Plustek, the solution A & E Office Machines installed is only offered through authorized Plustek resellers because it requires a lot of configuration for the "save scanned file" destinations. The system, based on the A300 document scanner, features a touchscreen book scanner that uses an A3 size plate. Druziak says, "The way the platen is designed and the optics and software are designed, it's really designed for scanning books. Typically you get a shadow are that runs up along the spine. This uses C technology to eliminate the shadowing area along the spine of the book."

Haydel says that the Plustek solution helps maximize the effectiveness of the clerk's staff. "We have 19 on staff to deal with the customer requests. The scanner is very user friendly, especially to my co-workers. Some can just walk up and place the book on the glass. Their main questions are how to make the copies darker," she says, explaining, "Right now, the quality has to be adjusted before the scan, but the contrast can be adjusted after the scan is made."

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