Our archive digitisation service offers professional scanning, image processing and indexing of historical, rare, precious and fragile materials for both organisations and private individuals.
We can digitise your archives from a range of formats, including:
- Fragile books and documents
- Books (bound, hardback/paperback)
- Minute books
- Large format maps
- Glass plate negatives
- Burial and cremation registers
- 35mm slides
We handle the digitisation of cultural heritage collections held by public and private archives, cemeteries, libraries and museums throughout the UK and Europe. Our specialist scanning equipment and tailored made image processing software allows us to deliver high resolution digital copies of archives at all times.
So whether you have a one off small project, such as a single book or manuscript to scan, or a large scale scanning project that spans across decades of archives, our scanning bureau has the flexibility and the scalability to meet the required demand.
Fragile items are treated with utmost care by our professional and experienced scanning staff. Our scanning facility is tailor-made to meet the many requirements of our clients, meaning it caters for security, safety and confidentiality. Our aim has always been to provide a digitisation service that delivers outstanding image capture quality, together with absolute care for the special collections that we are entrusted with. And we are proud to say we have achieved this over the course of several hundred projects with some of the most culturally significant heritage collections in the UK and internationally.
What can be scanned?
We can scan paper items from postage stamp size, up to A0+, such as photographs, maps, books, manuscripts, publications, magazines and newspapers. We are also able to digitise film-based media in the form of 35mm rolls, slides, negatives, positives and strips, and microfiche, as well as scanning collodion wet and gelatine dry glass plate negatives.
The key benefits of scanning archives
One of the biggest challenges archivists face is the need to balance the preservation of their materials and protecting them from the environmental and daily handling harm, with the need to provide easy access to the information that they contain.
Digitalising old, fragile and precious collections offers two main benefits:
Firstly, as digital images preserve their contents in a digital form, should the original item ever be lost or destroyed in accident, the valuable information it contained is will not be lost. Digitisation also contributes to the preservation of the item by allowing its information to be accessed without physically handling it and extending the items’ life-cycle by reducing wear on the precious original.
Secondly, digitising archive materials can greatly improve access due to them being made readily available via disk or internet. This can completely remove the need to handle archives that often come in large and heavy volumes, or sift through index cards to retrieve a particular record or image. Indexing or cataloguing data or an image in digital collections makes them easily searchable by allowing them to be searched using keywords or through indexes in an instant.
Our scanning equipment
Our scanning bureau uses low stress, flatbed digitising equipment that has been specifically designed to fully support and place absolute minimum pressure on the materials being digitised. In addition to sympathetic cradles, the scanners utilise optimised LED lighting, which produces far less heat and infrared energy than traditional incandescent light sources. This lessens the risk of heat damaging the precious materials being digitised.
Our scanning equipment also features industry leading document capture devices capable of digitising images to a very high resolution, resulting in high quality master digital archives.
Experienced and passionate scanning staff
Our digitisation team are highly trained in the safe handling of fragile and precious archival items. A gentle "special gloves" approach is always employed to ensure materials are treated with the utmost care.
Output formats and resolution
We understand that no two archive digitisation projects are the same. As a result, we tailor the resolution and file formats of the digital outputs we produce to meet the goals of each project we undertake.
- Digitalisation to RAW format means we are able to capture in full colour, greyscale or bi-tonal.
- From the original captured image we then produce outputs in Adobe PDF file formats, TIFF, JPEG, PNG, BMP, and either uncompressed or with compression applied.
At your site or at our bureau
We digitise most of our clients' documents at our specialist digitisation studio in our central Manchester scanning facility, collecting materials from clients’ premises across the UK in our secure GPS-tracked vehicles. However we understand that some collections are simply too precious and cannot be removed from sites for scanning. As a result, we also offer an onsite scanning service where our scanning team setup scanning equipment and digitise materials on location.