Archival Digitisation – a unique Collaboration with The British Library

Every institutional library has its own archive of rare documents and publications. No matter how important this content may be to specialist researchers, as “hard copy” it remains accessible to very few. Creating a digital version is the answer, of course, but inevitably this begs the question, how can such content be safely and securely digitised? And how can the resulting digital assets be made available and widely distributed?

Through a unique collaboration between Ingenta Connect and the British Library, a solution to this challenge is now at hand. Digitisation can be provided by the British Library’s own suite of services: the content can then be made available internationally via Ingenta Connect, one of the world most respected digital management solutions for scholarly content.

The first stage of the process is straightforward. The British Library has long been at the forefront of digitisation and digital preservation projects. Their team of professionally qualified staff have decades of experience in digitising the British Library’s own historic collections and those of other clients. The kinds of material they can handle and are suitable for specialist imaging include:

  • 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. 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 the Magna Carta.

Your archival content would be shipped securely to the BL facilities in London and at Boston Spa, where it would be safely stored in a controlled environment prior to photography and digitisation on (for example) one of their state-of-the-art Zeutschel  machines. The resulting files can be provided in any format, including XML.

Once the files have been created, they would be made available (via FTP, for example) to Ingenta Connect’s own Content Services team. There they would be given a “home page” with descriptive text and images, and users can discover, browse and download it – either for free, or via subscription or payment. Distribution of metadata to EBSCO, OCLC, InfoTrieve, NLM, and other discovery services.Rich content that would otherwise only have been available to a select few thus becomes available to everyone.

Ingenta Connect was established nearly two decades ago, and now reaches almost every academic library in the world, with over 200m sessions annually, 1.5m registered individual researchers and a million unique visitors a month. Increasingly we’re being used as a browsing and discovery service, with as many visitors starting their search with us as come from Google.


Byron Russell

Ingenta Connect

8100 Alec Issigionis Way

Oxford, UK

Tel +44 1865 397881

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