Balliol College Historic Collections Reprographics Policy


Balliol College aims to ensure survival of our Historic Collections for future generations whilst making them as accessible as possible to readers, both remote and in person. Our professional staff are happy to advise on the suitability of material for copying, and will provide reasons and suggest alternatives where in-house or self-service copying is not possible.

In-house copying

Many of our early manuscripts and a smaller selection of key institutional archives and personal paper collections have been digitised (scanned or photographed). Many, but not all, of these images have been posted on our Flickr site. Digitisation has been shaped by researchers’ requests and our conservation priorities rather than following a systematic programme, so you may find that the material you require has not yet been copied. In the first instance, please contact us at library@​balliol.​ox.​ac.​uk to check if something has been copied but has not yet been mounted online.

Owing to staff time constraints, we are no longer able to undertake large-scale digitisation (for example, a full manuscript or series of correspondence), but we can photograph or scan small amounts of material for personal study and non-commercial research. Each request will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, but as a rule of thumb, we can normally provide reading-quality images of up to about 50 pages in-house, free of charge. The turn-around time will depend on the size and complexity of the request, and other pressures on staff time, but we will always provide an estimated timescale. For larger orders and publication-quality images we can facilitate access to Bodleian’s reprographics service.

Copies will be made from pre-existing surrogates wherever possible, in order to prevent damaging the originals through handling and exposure to intense light.

Copies are normally supplied in digital format, which researchers may download and print for their own use. We do not have in-house facilities to provide high-quality prints.

If permitted by copyright or other considerations, we may make requested scanned images available online.

What we will copy

Collections will be either scanned or photographed depending on size, format and physical condition.

Single sheet items and loose/single photographs in good physical condition up to A3 size may be scanned. The binding structure of some photo albums allows scanning, but not others. Faded and damaged photographs will not be scanned.

Other examples of items unsuitable for our flatbed scanner include

  • Brittle, fragile, damaged or heavily folded documents which would be further damaged by copying
  • Folded parchment documents which would have to be forced flat

If an item is unsuitable for scanning, we may be able to provide digital photographs.

Bound volumes will normally be photographed, rather than scanned, and only if they are in good enough condition to withstand the physical stress of copying and if we are able to provide adequate support to the volume throughout the copying process. The stability of inks and bindings will be considered in such decisions as well as the condition of the paper or parchment.

What we won’t copy

We do not have the facilities to produce

  • new photographic prints or negatives
  • copies of transparencies, slides or photographic negatives
  • copies of large maps and plans
  • copies of audio-visual material

These can only be copied by specialist firms; if a copy can be made, we will obtain an initial quote and invoice the enquirer for the full costs of any such copying.

Copying may be refused for the following reasons:

  1. Copyright: if Balliol College does not own the copyright of a collection or item in its custody; in such cases it is up to the enquirer to obtain permission for reproduction from the copyright holder.
  2. Preservation: if the original document is light-sensitive, fragile or otherwise in a physical state where scanning or digital photography will cause damage, we will seek conservation advice and suggest alternative reproduction methods if possible.

Self-service photography

Researchers in person are welcome to make their own copies via digital photography during their visit whenever possible. Permission to photograph material must be obtained in advance. It will be granted whenever possible, but preservation and copyright issues must be taken into consideration for each collection or item as applicable.

When using your digital camera, please ensure that:

  • flash is not used
  • there is no disruption to the work of staff or other readers – please turn off digital shutter noises
  • items photographed are listed in full on the reprographics form provided

Where the intention of the use of a camera is commercial publication or broadcast, the written permission of the copyright holder or the archivist is required. Application should be made in writing at least two weeks in advance of such a visit and a fee may be charged. See our Terms and Conditions for Filming at the Historic Collections Centre for further details.


We do not usually make charges for reprography, except in exceptional circumstances. However, we reserve the right to charge commercial and professional (non-academic) researchers at the following rates at the discretion of the Fellow Librarian:

  • Black and white or colour scanning: £1 per scan, up to A3 size.
  • Digital photography: £1 per image if we are able to carry out the work in-house. If out-sourcing is necessary (e.g. for large or fragile items) individual quotes will be provided.
  • Other media: we will supply an individual quote
  • Postage and packaging at actual cost

Donations towards the preservation of the items being photographed are always appreciated.