Scan & Deliver: From Concept to Rollout


Back in 2012, I was tasked with initiating a trial of a, previously conceptual, scanning service for the Central Science Library (a former dependent of Cambridge University Library) aimed at remotely delivering copies of much-needed materials to Cambridge staff and students.

A thorough investigation of the UK Copyright Law revealed that this service would have to be restricted somewhat.

After deciding on the scope of the service, it was agreed to limit the service. In brief, that restricted it to the following:

  • single articles from journals or conferences
  • single chapters from books
  • any materials not currently available electronically
  • current University of Cambridge staff and students only
  • delivery once storage and duplication ‘conditions of supply’ form had been completed

Document Delivery Cog Promo - Twitter v1.1 (PNG)

The snappily-titled “Scan & Deliver” service was initiated and remained successful for many years with a few minor tweaks to install a payment system – something that became a necessity once changes to the legal system made it clear we would need to recoup costs to continue supply.

In 2015, the service was expanded to include the holdings of the Betty & Gordon Moore Library and was run in collaboration with the staff there. When the Central Science Library closed shortly after and their stock relocated to the Moore Library, the entire service also moved sites.

After another couple of changes to copyright law meant the chance to introduce it an online request option and a move to relaunch it as a free service.. Today, the service continues to run successfully and has become a much sought-after method of getting remote access to materials.

Recently, I have begun to get interest from other Cambridge Libraries (the University Library, the Engineering Library and the Squire Law Library). This resulted in a co-opting onto two major scanning service projects.

Library Storage Facility Scan & Deliver Group

LSF S&D Workflow - Scanner at LSF

In Autumn 2018, the Cambridge University Library (UL) co-opted me into a scoping group looking at delivering an affordable scanning service for materials held at their Library Storage Facility.  Calling on my experience (and paying me a compliment by swiping the name of our Moore Library service), the project involved in-depth research into UK-wide scanning services, the design of a range of possible options, costings for supply and concept delivery to the UL’s leadership team.

Engineering Library Scan & Deliver service

Document Delivery Plasma Slide Promo - All

In Spring 2019, the Science Libraries were brought into alignment with the University Schools. This involved an adjustment of roles for me and initiated an Engineering Library request to rollout the existing service to include their staff and their materials. Collaborating with their document delivery specialist, Ryan Cronin, together we were able to deliver a scanning service to supply scans of both Engineering and Moore Libraries’ stock direct to University of Cambridge staff and student inboxes from two sites. Using a similar design, we were able to offer an online method for requesting items. We also integrated it into the Engineering Library’s existing document delivery services, matching the online request forms to create a suite of services and promoted these via message boards, posters and social media.

FDL Presentation

Slides: Scan & Deliver Powerpoint Presentation

In Summer 2019, I gave a short presentation on the history and methodology behind Scan & Deliver to the Cambridge Libraries’ Faculty and Departmental Librarians Group (FDL) and received some very positive feedback. The Squire Law Library showed particular interest and we discussed the potential for a similar rollout of the service to their staff and students.


If you’d like to know more about any of the information provided here, please do leave a comment below.

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