What is digitisation and why do we do it?

The digitisation of historical documents and objects is a very important part of the New Forest Knowledge project – but what exactly is digitisation and why is it so important?

In 2004 the Christopher Tower Reference Library was built using money from a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Capital Grant. This year, the New Forest Centre has received funding from the HLF again for New Forest Knowledge, one of 21 projects which form Our Past, Our Future, a £4.4million Landscape Partnership Scheme, headed by the New Forest National Park Authority. 

New Forest Knowledge will be a collaborative website, through which users can access and share information about the New Forest. Drawing initially on resources held in the Christopher Tower Reference Library, New Forest Centre museum collections and New Forest Remembers website, users will be encouraged to upload their own comments, files and memories. The information gathered on the website will also be plotted on an interactive map, displaying search results by area and allowing a comparison to be drawn between current and historical maps.

Currently, a team of volunteers is working hard to catalogue and digitise the New Forest Centre’s collections in preparation for the website. Thousands of photographs, postcards, maps, books, slides, oral histories and historical objects will be digitised over the duration of this 4-year project and shared on the New Forest Knowledge website.

Two volunteers scanning historical maps using a specialist map scanner at the New Forest National Park Authority.

What is digitisation and why do we do it?

Digitisation is the process of creating a digital copy of an original object. For the New Forest Knowledge project, we are scanning and photographing our documents and objects, and converting audio and video tapes to digital files. There are many reasons for digitisation, including for preservation, sharing and discovery…


By digitising our historical documents, some of which are fragile or light-sensitive, we are helping to preserve them for future generations. In many cases, digital copies will be able to be viewed in place of the original, therefore saving them from damage through excessive handling and use.


Once objects are digitised, we can share them with the wider public. Items can be uploaded to our website and social media so that researchers all over the world can make use of them. It is not uncommon for the Library to get research enquiries from the USA! On our website, users will be able to share their finds with friends, family and colleagues and when knowledge is shared it can lead to…


When information is shared, new discoveries and connections can be made which help to develop our knowledge of an object and its story. The New Forest Knowledge website will be able to showcase those discoveries we have already made, and allow users to make new discoveries!

Can you help us discover more?

These are a couple of photographs from our collections—but we don’t know who or where they are! Can you help? Do you recognise a place or a familiar face? If you think you can give us any more information about these, or any of our other photographs, please get in touch. You can pop into the library on a Wednesday (10am-4pm) or Friday (10am-12.30pm), call us on 02380 286150, or you can email library@newforestcentre.org.uk.

We’d love to hear from you!

Lyndhurst Football Team
Can you name anyone in this photo? It is thought to be Lyndhurst football club (date unknown).
Brockenhurst Archery Club
This photo is believed to be Brockenhurst Archery Club – but where are they?




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