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How our digitisation services can help you to unlock your treasures

We have been digitising our vast collection for several years and now deliver over 200 documents online for every one delivered in our reading rooms. We are increasingly using our expertise to help businesses and private organisations to develop and modernise their own archives in order to grow business, preserve heritage, increase brand awareness and build commercial identity. We know that many organisations hold a wealth of archived but sparsely used information including gems from the organisation's history.

Digitisation can unlock the hidden treasures in your archive, dramatically increasing accessibility and creating more ways to present your records to new and wider audiences. Each organisation has different priorities but the benefits of digitisation include:
  • Access: The information in documents can be published in a number of ways and made available to a global audience so that access to archives is no longer restricted to only people who can visit the physical location
  • Generating income: Many documents contain information that can have a commercial value when presented to the right audiences. Digitisation unlocks this potential to create new income streams
  • Brand: Opening up your archives can benefit your brand by inspiring new audiences. Many modern brands are rediscovering the value of their 'brand heritage'
  • Preservation: Following digitisation, physical documents will not need to be produced as often, so potential damage caused by handling is reduced
  • Searchability: Capturing the right descriptive data from a digitised document makes relevant content much easier to find and helps minimise time spent searching archives
  • Interaction: Digitised content is versatile and can be used to communicate with customers across a range of channels. It is a particularly strong tool for use on social media, opening dialogue with customers to encourage activity such as crowdsourcing and blogging

While archives across the country are beginning to recognise the potential for digitisation to transform their activities, initiating a large-scale digitisation project can be a daunting prospect.
At The National Archives, we continue to digitise our own material, but have the capacity and expertise to undertake digitisation projects for other archives. We are an innovative organisation, and we can add value to projects by sharing the benefits of our experience built up over years by offering a professional service using our own resources and those of trusted partners.

Whatever the size of your archive, and whatever the aims of your digitisation programme, we can help to deliver a successful project.

The services we offer

We appreciate that each archive and collection is unique and we will work with you to develop a bespoke service to meet your specific requirements, incorporating any or all of the services we offer.

The first stage of the process is a no-commitment consultation to understand your requirements, and provide, where necessary, advice on the best approach to digitising your archive. Our digitisation services team can undertake the copying of large quantities of records to paper, microfilm or digital formats. At each stage in the process we provide stringent quality assurance, spot-checking that images meet the required standards. All records are stored and copied in a secure environment by operators with many years' experience, using scanning equipment approved by our expert conservators to minimise the risk of document damage.  

Our services include:

  • Preparation of documents

    Records and documents in archives and collections have often suffered from age or damage caused over years of handling. Due to the physical nature of digitisation, there is a risk that if not managed appropriately, this could increase. We employ a specialist team of conservators with skills in stabilising and conserving records who can bring the techniques they use in conserving our collection to the preparation of your records for digitisation. In addition to preparing your archive or collection for digitisation, we can also provide advice on cataloguing
  • Digital capture

    We have the equipment, dedicated facilities and specialist staff to offer a range of digitisation services. We specialise in capturing high volumes of digital images from large collections and with our state of the art equipment, can capture a range of formats including documents, maps, plans and drawings. We can output images in a variety of formats and onto many types of media to suit individual requirements
  • Creation of searchable metadata

    The ability to translate data and information in a scanned document into searchable text transforms the onward use of the record. We can recommend and deliver the best possible solution depending on the nature of the original material. We work with a network of trusted partners to offer manual transcription, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and various redaction services as appropriate

Want to know more?

If you have any questions about the services we can provide or would like to discuss your requirements, please email digitisation@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk or call +44 (0)20 8392 5325/5356. We will be happy to provide general guidance and obligation-free quotations upon request.