Digitisation Service

Alongside our Copying Service, for archives held at the Borthwick, we also provide an external digitisation service for those who wish to have their own documents, archives or research materials digitised.

As an operating archive, our primary concern is for the care of your documents, and our digitisation processes are developed with this in mind.  We will ensure that we obtain the best possible image without compromising the condition of your archive material.

We are able to digitise a wide array of archives such as bound volumes, maps and photographic material, as well as many other formats.  We appreciate that each individual archive is unique and requires a tailored approach.  We will be very happy to discuss the specific requirements of your material with you, and to make sure that you are fully informed about the processes we will carry out and the images we will produce.

To discuss your requirements and obtain an estimate, please email

Document Care

The Borthwick Institute is a working archive and our staff are trained and experienced in the handling and care of unique and fragile documents.

All archive digitisation is undertaken through means of photography.  The flexibility provided by photography means that we are able to adjust our imaging approach to the meet the needs of the original item, rather than having to adjust the original item to meet the needs of the imaging equipment.

Your documents will be stored in our strongrooms, which are compliant with the relevant standards, when not undergoing digitisation.


The complexity and variation of archive digitisation determines that we are unable to offer a 'price per image' rate.  Rather, we prefer to gather information about the specific material in question in order to provide you with as accurate and fair an estimate as possible.

If you are able to provide answers to the following questions, this will give us a good starting point from which to develop an estimate for your project.

  • What is the nature of the material?  For example, is your archive made up of loose sheets of paper or books?  Is it a photograph album?  What are the dimensions of the items?

  • What is the volume of material?  This could be the number of pages in a book, the number of loose sheets in a folder, the number of photographs in a box etc.

  • What is the condition of the material?  Is it fragile, mouldy or torn?  Is it rolled, folded or tightly bound?

  • Do you have a specific file naming convention in mind?  Does the material have pre-existing references which will allow the digital images to be named accordingly?  Do you require the creation of any additional metadata?

  • Do you require any additional digital processing, such as OCR?

The above list is not exhaustive, and any information you are able to provide will help us to develop an estimate.

If you do not have access to the information requested above, or if you have additional questions, then please do get in touch and we will be able to discuss your requirements.

Image Standards and Formats

We will provide images to your desired specification and format, and we are happy to offer advice on choosing an appropriate specification.  Our standard approach is to provide two copies of each image: one high resolution JPEG, for everyday viewing and dissemination, and one uncompressed TIFF for long term storage. 

When providing digitised images intended for long term storage we will aim to achieve at least the recommended standards of:

300-600 ppi capture resolution (dependent on materials)
24-bit colour
TIFF format

We are able to provide multi-page PDF copies of images for ease of distribution and also to perform OCR processing (optical character recognition) if the document is suitable.

Image processing is usually limited to any necessary cropping and rotating of the digitised images.

We can name images according to a requested file naming schema, and we can undertake the creation of metadata, ensuring that the digital files can be placed in context and are able to be related to the original document.