In the Netherlands, archives provide their already digitized records available online for free. But several archives go a step further, and also allow you to request documents to be scanned free of charge.
These archives have allocated budget for digitizing their collection. Part of this budget is used for larger projects, and another part is used for scanning-on-demand where the users determine the order in which the records get digitized. The resulting scans are attached to the finding aids and are then available for everyone, including the person who requested the scans.
List of archives that have free scanning on demand
- Stadsarchief Amsterdam [Amsterdam City Archives]. Select the finding aid you’re interested in and then find the call number you want digitized and click “Digitaliseren.”
- Some of the archives that use Archieven.nl for their finding aids. Select the finding aid you’re interested in and then find the call number you want digitized. Then click the last icon “Scannen op verzoek” [Scanning on demand].
Note: some other archives offer scanning-on-demand for a free, sometimes using the same icon at Archieven.nl. You can just try clicking the icon to see if you are asked for payment or not.
Do you know of other archives that provide free scans on demand that are not on this list? Please let me know in the comments.
How to know which call number to order
Most of the archival descriptions are in Dutch, so it can be difficult to know what call number to order. You can use a browser like Google Chrome to translate the page for you.
Some of the more popular records have been indexed, for example in the People section at Archieven.nl. In cases where the scan is not included with the index, you should be able to click through to the source in the finding aid, where you may be able to click the Scanning-on-demand icon.
Restrictions on scanning on demand
All archives have restrictions on scanning on demand. Common restrictions are:
- Only public records.
- Only well-preserved records that don’t need conversation treatments before digitization.
- Only whole call numbers, no specific records/pages.
- Limited number of requests per user, for example 1 per week or 4 simultaneous requests.
As you can imagine, this is a popular service, so waiting times can be several weeks to months. Some archives provide a paid express service if you don’t have the time to wait for the free version.