Specialist digitisation

Digitisation of specialist material

If your material is rare, fragile or in an unusual format, who better to handle it than a national library with decades of experience preserving and digitising historic collections?

We are experts in handling, storing and making the best images possible from items in unusual formats or with complex preservation requirements. Our team of professionally qualified staff have decades of experience in digitising the British Library’s own historic collections and those of our clients.

The kinds of material we can handle and are suitable for specialist imaging include:

  • 3D items, such as globes and textiles
  • Pre-19th century manuscripts
  • Items over A0 in size, such as maps and newspapers
  • Non-standard formats, such as scrolls, paintings and slides
  • Items containing precious or fragile materials, such as gold leaf
  • Damaged or degraded material

The British Library has a team of preservation experts and conservators on hand to give advice on handling your collections while they are being photographed and storage arrangements while they are with us. This is the same team responsible for the care of some of the rarest and most valuable printed items in the world, including the Lindisfarne Gospels and two copies of the Magna Carta. With the British Library, you can be sure that your collections are in the best hands possible.

Contact us for a no-commitment discussion of your requirements and the services we can offer.  Specialist digitisation and bespoke orders will have a unique price and will be confirmed on request.

Our studios and equipment

Specialist photography takes place in our studios in St Pancras, London and our studio in Boston Spa, Yorkshire can also handle unusual formats and valuable items that are suitable for scanning.

Our St Pancras studios are equipped with state-of-the-art photographic imaging systems, to ensure your collections are always protected and your images are of the highest quality. We continually invest in the latest equipment for both of our studios to meet our customers’ and the British Library’s needs.

Light and temperature in all of our studios are kept at the optimal levels for archival material, according to guidance from the British Library’s preservation team. These are constantly monitored and if required, we are able to accommodate further light and temperature requirements to suit the nature and condition of your collections.

Our staff

Our team of eight photographers are professionally qualified and have many years experience in various photographic fields, in addition to their work with the British Library and its clients' collections.

Our Preservation team regularly give training and advice to staff in all of our imaging studios and are always on hand to provide assistance and guidance, should your collection items need it.

More from Digitisation Services

Bulk digitisation

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Ordering images

All you need to know about ordering scans or photographs of British Library collection items

Contact us

How to get in contact with our Digitisation Services teams