Digitisation of paper records is a huge opportunity for the archives sector to reach audiences far broader than those who visit archives in person. Commercial digitisation has already put millions of pages online and continues to grow.

There are opportunities for the sector to come together and exploit economies of scale for digitisation and licensing with the commercial sector. We are currently piloting this approach, bringing together over 100 services to digitise school registers dating from before 1914. 

Information about the pilot (Licensed Internet Associateship (LIA) programme) is available on the Archives and Records Association website.

Stages in the pilot are:

  • scoping and developing a consortium bid for a major record series, with support from the sector
  • identifying regional hubs willing and able to act as secure scanning points
  • surveying the record series proposed in terms of size, number of images, condition and conservation needs, if a proposal goes forward
  • offering support, advice on contracts and commercial proposals

Following an invitation to express interest and supplier days held at Manchester Archives and Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in June 2011, bids were considered and contract negotiations are now proceeding.

Future national series which might be explored include:

  • wills
  • quarter sessions
  • petty sessions
  • Poor Law records
  • school records
  • 1910 valuation records
  • parish registers

For more information please contact the initiative development manager.