Digitisation services

Video wall illustrating the water cycle

A section of the giant video wall illustrating the water cycle in the Ecology gallery at the Natural History Museum, London

If you are unable to visit the Library and Archives in person, we offer a digitisation service for physical items that the Museum holds the sole copy of for personal research and non-commercial use.

For information about the commercial use of Library and Archive images please see Natural History Museum images.

Requests from other libraries

We can process requests from UK libraries through the British Library document supply system (BLDSS). Please contact us directly via email library@nhm.ac.uk with your details. For those outside the UK, we do not accept IFLA vouchers and ask that you place an order using the digitisation service offered here.

Digitised collections 

Library and Archives have a programme of digitisation and collection items may already be digitised. If your request is for one of these items, we will charge you an administration fee rather than a digitisation fee.

Where permitted we are making digitised versions of our collections available via Digitised collections, please check here to see if the item you are requesting is already digitised and publicly available. Please note this is a growing collection and we add collections to it on an ongoing basis.

Digitisation service charges (revised charges Sept 2020)

Payment of VAT: all customers outside UK will be seen as international customers, therefore not subject to the VAT. (Zero rated). If the goods or services provided will be used in UK VAT will be applied. If you have any queries regarding this issue please speak to the NHM Finance Team via receipts@nhm.ac.uk

Standard fee – digital images for reference (scan is research quality)

  • £13.00 (+VAT) First image of each collection item
  • £0.50 (+VAT)  Subsequent images from the same item

This fee includes the cost of retrieving the item, assessing the status of the item, scanning and processing your request. The fee is for up to 100 pages – should the item comprise in excess of 100 pages, we will advise you on the cost attributable to the production of the copy. 

Specialised fee – digital images for reference (photography or items unsuitable for scanning – research quality)

  • £14.00 (+VAT) First image of each collection item
  • £1.00 (+VAT) Subsequent images from the same item

This fee includes the cost of retrieving the item, assessing the status of the item, digitally photographing and processing your request.

If an item needs to be handled as specialised we will advise you prior to starting the work.

Digital items 

Digital item fee – Digital images for reference (supply of pre-existing digital file – research quality)

  • £13.00 Administration fee (+ VAT)

We will advise you on application should a digital file already exist of the item you require.

If you require a physical copy of the material, there will be an additional charge to cover reference quality printing and postage (first-class within the UK and airmail for international orders).

Bespoke projects

Items or sets of items requested for specific projects or bespoke purposes will be costed on a project basis according to the research or commercial basis of the request.  


Items in the Public Domain (out of copyright)

Items from the Library and Archives collections in which no copyright subsists in the UK (either because the item does not qualify for copyright subsistence, or because the copyright term has elapsed) are in the ‘public domain’. Such items are therefore free of restrictions under UK copyright law.  You can copy, modify, distribute, and perform these items, even for commercial purposes, without permission.    

Please be aware:

  • different copyright laws may apply in different jurisdictions.
  • other rights may survive the term of copyright in some jurisdictions, such as the moral rights of authors.
  • there may be other rights in or related to the work and how it is used, such as trademark rights or privacy rights.

Please use public domain items in accordance with the guidelines developed by the Europeana Foundation.

Items in Copyright

Items from the Library and Archives in which copyright subsists and where the copyright belongs to the Museum, may be reproduced under the terms of a Non-Commercial Government Licence.  Attribution should be as follows: ‘© The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London’, or ‘© NHM London’ where space is limited.

Commercial use of such items must be licensed through Natural History Museum images.

Use of items from the Library and Archives in which copyright subsists and where that copyright belongs to persons other than the Museum, is restricted to non-commercial research or private study as set out in legal declaration you are required to sign when requesting a copy of the item.

The Museum is unable to authorise your use of items in which we do not own the necessary intellectual property rights.

Crediting the Natural History Museum

If using items from the Library and Archives collections we ask that you credit the Library and Archives, Natural History Museum, London as the source of the items as this helps others know about our collections.

Where practicable items reproduced online should link back to the library webpage

We are interested to know how our collections are being used by researchers. If you use Twitter to promote your research and projects please include us via @NHM_Library or email library@nhm.ac.uk.

Any publication right (as provided by the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 1996 SI 1996/2967) or any analogous right or rights in any part of the world, arising from your use of Library and Archives Items and/or copies of Library or Archives Items, must be assigned absolutely for the full term to the Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London, and is agreed to by signing the digitisation request form.

Before placing your order

We operate as a library of last resort. If another UK institution holds the item(s) you are interested in, we ask that you contact them first. Useful online catalogues which will assist you to locate other copies include:

Please check that the item has not already been digitised by the Natural History Museum or is available via the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

When ordering published articles, be aware that if the item is in copyright, we can only supply one chapter / article, depending on the item’s characteristics in accordance with the Copyright Licensing Agency.

If you require a large volume of material, please contact us before submitting your order.

Placing your order

Search the Library and Archives collection via the discovery layer to find the item or part of item you wish to have copied 

Complete the Digitisation order form and email it to library@nhm.ac.uk

After your order is received 

We aim to process orders within 15 working days. Due to the current Covid situation our turnaround times may be effected by reduced staffing levels.

Once we have been able to assess your order will inform you accordingly of the following:

  • If any items will need to be handled as specialised.
  • If an item is particularly fragile and at high risk of being harmed during the digitisation process, and therefore not able to be digitised.
  • The copyright status of each item will be assessed, and we will communicate any issues with you. Please refer to the restrictions information earlier in this document.
  • Unpaginated items will be assessed prior to digitisation and we will provide an estimated price for your agreement before continuing.
  • You will be invoiced prior to your order being dispatched. Please pay promptly to our finance department, so that we can then send your order to you. Please refer to our How to pay an invoice PDF (226 KB) for information. 
  • Important: Payment details sent to our finance department by email will not be accepted unless encrypted.
  • Your completed order will be sent via email with a link to a file sharing site, where the images can be downloaded.