The National Archives

Read how we created a new ecommerce image management system for The National Archives.


The National Archives is the UK government's official archive. It is home to millions of documents, files and images that cover 1,000 years of history.

The Brief

The National Archives has run an image library service for several years. Most of its business is conducted by email or telephone, but in order to compete with other image libraries and to more effectively manage the service, The National Archives decided that it was essential to develop an online image library platform.

Using Asset Bank as an Image Library

Following a supplier review, The National Archives appointed Bright Interactive and identified the Asset Bank platform to deliver a flexible, scalable yet cost-effective online delivery system. It provides a self-service e-commerce image library, enabling customers to easily search and buy the images they require. The National Archives has a fairly complex pricing structure as charges vary depending on how images will be used. For example, an image used in a national press advertising campaign will have a higher charge than one purchased for personal use. We developed a user-friendly checkout process in which the purchaser is taken step-by-step through the reproduction fees in order to define their usage requirements. See image below.

Other features of the new library include:

  • Extremely fast search of a high volume of records, enabling the library to hold millions of images
  • Cloud storage for source files, reducing storage costs and simplifying backups
  • Image watermarking to ensure that customers pay for images before using them
  • Detailed image labelling and metadata
  • Compliance with web accessibility guidelines
  • Ability to upload files individually or in bulk
  • Extraction of metadata embedded in source files
  • We also worked closely with The National Archives’ web design team to ensure that the new image library is consistent with its brand and identity. Below is the new image library home page.

You can also browse The National Archives Image Library now.

The new site has huge potential to transform our image library operation by enabling commercial image users to transact with us online, 24-7, and receive their files online.

Mary Gledhill, Commercial Director at The National Archives