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Library Support for Online Teaching: Scan Your Textbook Using Apps

Scanning Texts Using Apps

decorativeFaculty: Scan Your Textbook Using Apps

Not all of the textbooks in use at Los Angeles Valley College are available to access for free online. However, you can use a scanner if you have access to one, or download an app to your phone to "scan" pages from your textbooks and upload them to Canvas for your students.

The LAVC Library is recommending two free apps, Microsoft Lens and Adobe Scan, which are also the Wirecutter's top picks. However, there are many other free and low-cost scanning apps available on the Google Play and Apple app stores - use whichever scanning app you prefer.

Overall Recommendations for Effective Scanning

  • Use strong lighting. Scanning apps perform better when the lighting is bright. Set up your scanning station on your desk, kitchen counter, etc., and add additional lighting if needed.
  • Perform Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on your scans. OCR makes it so your scanned documents can be read by a screen reader, so your students that have vision impairment or low vision will be able to access the information. It also means that you and your students can easily highlight or copy passages from the reading. Both Office Lens and Adobe Scan automatically perform OCR when you export your scans as PDFs.
  • Post your scans on Canvas. Posting on Canvas makes it so your scans are only accessible by your students during this semester, so that you reduce the chance of copyright infringement.

What About Copyright?

A number of copyright specialists have weighed in on this issue and have concluded that during a public health crisis such as this, scanning and distributing copyrighted materials directly to students is allowable under fair use:

"It is evident that making materials available and accessible to students in this time of crisis will almost always be a fair use. As long as we are being thoughtful ... and limiting our activities to the specific needs of our [students] during this time of crisis, copyright law supports our uses. The fair use doctrine accommodates the flexibility required by our shared public health crisis, enabling society to function and progress while protecting human life and safety." (Public Statement of Library Copyright Specialists: Fair Use & Emergency Remote Teaching & Research, page 3) 

Microsoft Lens

Microsoft Lens (formerly Office Lens)

Use Microsoft Lens (formerly Office Lens) to take photos of documents and book pages, then export them as PDFs to Microsoft OneDrive. Use your Office365 account (just log in with your LAVC email and password) to get access to all of your scans (look in the Microsoft Lens folder). Exported PDF scans automatically include OCR. Can scan up to ten pages per document.  

Download Microsoft Lens:

Need helpCheck out Microsoft Lens Help & Training ​for iOS and Android.

Adobe Scan

Adobe Scan

Sign in with your Adobe ID or Google, Facebook, or Apple account to access Adobe Scan. Create PDFs and click Share to easily email them to yourself or export them to OneDrive or Google Drive. Exported PDF scans automatically include OCR. No page limit for scans. Can upgrade for $9.99 a month to get access to additional features.

Download Adobe Scan:

Need help? Check out Adobe Scan Mobile Help for more information.

License: CC BY 4.0


This guide is licensed CC BY 4.0. You are free to copy, transform, and redistribute this material in any medium or format without asking permission. Adapted from Glendale Community College Library Updates (CC BY 4.0).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.