Cambridgeshire County Archives -a response to my question

Cambridgeshire County Council has formally replied to the public question I tabled at the end of 2016 about digitising archives.

“Dear Mr Carpen

Further to your question submitted at the December Council meeting the response to your question which had been prepared but which was not with the Chairman of the H and CI Committee at the Council meeting was as follows:

Question: What plans does the county council have to digitise its collection of photographs, and what considerations has it made to develop an online service where it can sell large digital reproductions of old photographs and maps currently held in their library and what further considerations have the council made following the initial public meeting last year of the libraries service developing alternative funding streams, including but not restricted to people donating online?

Response: The majority of the Council’s photographic collections and historical maps are held by Cambridgeshire Archives and the Cambridgeshire Collection. There is a professional scanning and digitisation section that carries out commercial commissions as well as satisfying customer requests for copies from the collections, and a scan-on-demand service available. The sale of reprographics from our specialist collections is an important income stream for the Service and images can already be ordered remotely or in person. Low resolution images are available as part of the online archive catalogue, which assists ordering.

There is an ongoing programme of digitisation in order to improve access (putting images online), preserve the items from handling or deterioration (e.g. nitrate negatives) and to meet specific research requests. Due to the fact that the costs of digitisation are high, and staffing is limited, the work has to be carefully prioritised, using volunteers to help scan images.

With our focus currently on developing a new archive centre, there are no plans at present to fully develop an online shop with a basket-based system, but the idea remains under consideration. In the meantime, the Council is working with key partners to increase online images and raise income e.g. work with Ancestry will commence in 2017 to digitise our 19th and early 20th century electoral registers, put them online and then receive a royalty for every image sold.

Full details of how to order an image and price lists are available on our website:

In response to the public meeting held last year, Cambridgeshire Libraries have introduced online payments and the ability to donate online, which you can find here:

Kind regards

Rob Sanderson

Democratic Services Officer

Cambridgeshire County Council”


4 thoughts on “Cambridgeshire County Archives -a response to my question

  1. There’s a further question about more recent material, particularly maps. Ordnance Survey stopped printing large scale/most detailed mapping around 1970 and since then all maps (even less detailed) have been electronic. Large scale mapping has also only been published in proprietary formats that requires specialist software to interpret.

    Unless action is taken there is a real risk that mapped evidence of change since then will not be available to future generations.

    This is not an issue of protecting what already exists, but rather of ensuring that what is in non-standard electronic format is available/useable at all.


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