Ordering images

Digitisation of rare manuscript

Order images from our incredible collection of over 170 million items.


You can order images of British Library collection items by completing our order form.

We aim to process your order within 30 working days of delivery of the item to be digitised to our Studio. Delivery times of items to our Studio varies and is dependent upon the source material to be digitised. Where we know that your order is likely to incur delays we will contact you to advise of this.

If your order is time sensitive and you are unable to wait, please contact us as soon as possible to cancel your order and avoid incurring a cancellation fee.

You will need the following information:

  • The British Library shelfmark of the items you would like to order from our catalogues. If you can't find the item you need our Reference Enquiry Team would be delighted to help you locate it in our collections.*
  • The title of the items you want to order.
  • The page or folio numbers you would like us to scan or photograph.
    • In the case of folios, please state whether front, back (or both) is required. Unlike pages, these have the same number for both sides of the leaf. The front is called 'recto' and is often abbreviated as r or a. The back of the leaf is called 'verso' and is usually abbreviated as v and sometimes referred to as b.
    • When ordering manuscripts, the page numbers are identified by the pencil markings on the top of the page. Some manuscripts may contain further numbering, please ignore these and use the pencil markings.
  • The format:
    • Digital image for reference: this means that your image will be produced from scanning the original item. If your order is from a precious or rare item, it may need expert photography. If this is the case, we will contact you.
    • Digital image for reproduction: this means that your image will be photographed and reproduced in high quality. You can use the image as required, including for reproduction and publication, as long as you have the right permissions.
    • We are unable to provide scanned copies from original manuscripts. Scans are only available from surrogate copies.
  • Your payment details: credit or debit card details or British Library business account.
  • Additional information: for example please state if ‘picture only’ is required. Please note, where a surrogate exists scans will be taken from the microfilm and will be in black and white. If colour is required please add this request to the additional information.
  • How you want your order delivered. (NB our standard method of delivery is electronic. If you require another format please contact us.

*Please note that there are some restrictions on what and how we can copy items from our collection. You should also check how you can use the images you order from us to make sure that you will have the permission to use your images in the way you want. There may be copyright in the images we supply. If you would like to reproduce copies of these images, please contact our Permissions department for more information.

Once you have placed your order we will contact you by email or phone if there are any questions or issues relating to your order.

If you require any further information please contact us.