I'm at the archive. What do I do now?
My wife has seen people taking portable computers and flatbed scanners into archives and libraries for digitizing images of photos and text. Assuming you're at the archive without this setup, what do you do? Not to worry if you have your handy digital camera. First, make sure that the institution allows you to use one on the subject you plan on copying. Place the photo or flat on a desk, and put a lamp or two to the side so the illumination is not coming from straight above the subject. Hold the camera straight above the subject, braced against something if possible. If you have the storage room, take several shots to improve the chances that at least one is good.
As an example, I took the following photo of a recent New York Times on the copy stand with the Nikon 950. To give you a frame of reference, the area encompassed by the photo is about 4-1/2" wide by 6-1/2" tall.
Excuse the bit of finger showing holding it flat. It is a little tough to read the text at current magnification (made worse by the low-resolution image for the web), but let's take a closer look. The following image is zoomed in on the text, and is a small crop from the above larger image (i.e. you'll get this level of resolution by looking closely at the original of the above image, I did not take a close-up with the camera).
Not too bad. This was not hand-held, but the camera will give you pretty good resolution if you need a copy of a document or a photo, and this is the only method available. Of course, those with a 3 mega-pixel camera (mine is 2 MP) will do even better.