Mary Evans Picture Library


Tom Gillmor - Head of Collections

Founded in 1964 by husband and wife team Hillary and Mary Evans and now comprising approximately 2.5 million unique and eclectic images (and still growing), The Mary Evans Picture Library is a fascinating example of a collection which started as a personal hobby but which has grown into a major international business.

Tom Gillmor, Head of Content, speaks to us today about managing a growing collection and how to continue to expand whilst still maintaining the personal ethos which helped make the collection so unique in the first place.

He tells us about the collection's international reach, how they have embraced the digital age, and the importance of strong metadata. He also shares some of his personal favorites from the collection, including an (almost) accurate view of life 'In the year 2000' as imagined by French artist Jean-Marc Cote in 1896.




Picture Library:


Please Note: This is an automated, machine-generated transcription. We have presented this 'as is' and have not undertaken any editing.

hello and welcome to the max communications 2020 podcast the series of podcasts where we explore various archives and collections my name is fabe williams and i'm joined today by tom gilmor head of content for the mary evans picture library we'd like to introduce yourself tom and tell us about how you came to byrd thank you faith yes i'd love to do that and thank you for the opportunity to tell you a little bit about where i work and what we do it's certainly a kind of different sort of place and a different sort of business and and something that i feel that people always find is a little bit surprising so i shall i shall try and kind of tell you as much as much as i can about what we do and what i do at the picture library um so i think it'd probably be best initially to give you a little bit of background about how the business began how the company started um and also who mary evans was because people often ask us is there or was there actually a mary evans where did the name come from um and there was definitely a mary evans um and but the story of the library is really the story of a husband and wife team and that was mary and her husband hilary evans who in up to kind of the tour throughout the 1950s really um were gathering together an amazing collection of illustrated books and prints and ephemera items just as a personal private collection they were fascinated by imagery and artwork they both had their own specialized interests themselves mary's great passion was dogs so absolutely anything to do with dogs and she had her own huge kind of personal private library based around imagery of dogs postcards prints books as well and hillary's great interests um were in much more kind of fringe subjects so things like ufos and science fiction and um kind of folklore and the paranormal and he also developed an amazing personal private library of books on those subjects so they had their own kind of specialist areas but they were also great um passionate advocates for um the great book illustrators and an illustration of the kind of late 19th century early 20th century um and really this was very much um a passion of theirs but not something that ever evolved beyond a personal private collection their small house at the time in shooters hill and just outside blackheath was by all accounts kind of filled with all of these items and hillary at the time was working as a copywriter for a london advertising agency so he had lots of contacts within the media world in london um and their their collecting continued um but also the kind of knowledge of this collection that mary and hillary put together grew and grew um and they started to lend out books lend out pictures um and mary who's had a very kind of savvy business brain um realized that they could start to actually generate this interest in their collection into a proper business licensing um the use of the images for which they held the ownership and and the copyright of the versions of these pictures which they held and so the mary evans picture library was founded in 1964. um it took mary's name because at the time hillary was still very keen to kind of carry on his writing career and he continued to be an author and write book throughout his entire life and mary was really always the driving force on the business side of the company and hillary um really i think that was of less interest to him but he was very very passionate about the pictures and the imagery and the collecting and the acquisitions so he remains the principal acquirer of all the um historical items and books over the years again right up until until his death he was still developing and collecting for the library and so the library was founded um and started out really from a cupboard i think in their small house in 1964 and then they moved to a much larger property um on granville park in blackheath so they've always always been based in the local southeast london area and the libraries always had a base in the blackheath area and once again they kind of developed the system of the library the filing system for all the images and it took over the whole of one floor and then it took over the whole of the basement and they needed to move premises again um and so at that stage they moved the library to a new site um at number one tranquil vale which was the old literary institution building which mary and hillary helped to restore a lovely building which is still there just just alongside blacky's railway station and then they had the whole of the upper level of that building which became the picture library and the staff numbers increased um and the number of uh animals that used to pop in day to day increase there was always at least one one or two dogs in the office unsurprisingly it was kind of mary's passion um and then toward the end of the 1980s once again the collection had outgrown its home um and the opportunity came to um move the collection once more because uh the all saint parish hall which is a lovely arts and crafts 1920s parish hall building right on the edge of black keys became available it had been used by the the all-science parish church for exhibitions and meetings and dance classes uh for years and years in fact mary and hillary's daughter valentine had had dance lessons there which is always a very nice link and that's a two level space it's a lovely old historic building and the church council in their wisdom agreed for mary and hillary to move the picture library to that building and everything was moved in there in 1989 i think they had a choice at the meeting between moving in a a quiet studious group of historical picture researchers or turning it into a health club and so i think i think i think the vote was something like 14 to 1 or 15 to zero so that's where the library has been based ever since 1989 and we continue to house our our huge collection of images there at 59 tranquil vale all saints parish hall right in the center of black heath and quite often people wander past or sometimes even knock on the door and say what do you do this looks very interesting and we found when we we did the open house london event on two occasions we've only done it twice because it took a lot of effort to sort out the place to make it work but the local community really were fascinated by the collection and what we did and i think it gave people an opportunity to actually kind of come behind the doors of this strange mysterious building and company which they'd only really either seen as they walked past or seen in in in the credits on on tv or in magazines or in newspapers um so that's the little kind of very brief potted history about how the library developed born out of this personal collection of a very very wide range of illustrative pictorial items gathered together and by this husband and wife theme of marion hillary evans um and really that the kind of core archival collection that that is uh continues um as as the main heartbeat of the company and we've still we're still cataloging and digitizing stuff that they bought probably back in the 1960s and 1970s is a vast wealth of millions of images within that collection that are still being um being organized being catalogued and being scanned but it was the development really from a kind of hobby to a business at really just the right moment just when specialist picture agencies were in their infancy there were a few larger news agencies and press agencies and obviously people could access pictures via museum collections um but there never really been a place where people could come looking solely for images related to history to to license pictures for use in in kind of commercial projects and so the company and filled a very nice kind of niche void at that stage of its development um so i think it might be might be worse if if okay to tell you a little bit more about aspects of the core archival collection yeah that'd be very interested and the type of content that we have um we have a a huge range of illustrated magazines and periodicals and probably the largest um of which is the archive of the illustrated london news and picture library group and so that's a a a body of eight different magazine titles the main one being the illustrated london news which was published between 1842 right up to the 1990s and that was the first real large format illustrated paper covering all aspects of world events from the kind of early victorian period all the way then through the 20th century and that's an amazing resource for imagery covering events portraiture discoveries innovations pretty much anything you can think of with a bit of a global flavor and but we have a number of large runs of illustrated magazines and not just ones from the uk we've got a lot of french periodicals mary and hillary had two properties in france and did a lot of buying at paper fares and along the banks of the seine in paris and used to go there and pick up prints and and more book collections um and also magazines from america from the rest of europe um and not just events and kind of more standard illustrated periodicals they're interested in humorous magazines fashion magazines publications about the theater about transport about science so a large portion of the archive is illustrated journals periodicals and magazines and we also have a vast number of illustrated books so books on particular topics lots of books on kind of topographic subjects so places pictures of places throughout history around the world um a very very large collection of victorian children's books which are a wonderful resource not only for the illustrations of those specific stories but also sometimes children's book illustrations um are incredibly colorful incredibly graphic and are very useful today for for reuse um for all sorts of projects um and we also have a huge collection um which was one of the real sorts of passions from collecting terms for hillary um which is what might be termed ephemera so these are items which at the time of production didn't really have any kind of intrinsic artistic value but nowadays looking at them they're very interesting and sometimes have imagery which can convey a whole gamut of different subjects and situations so things that would come under that bracket i suppose would be victorian scraps which were sold for people to stick into scrapbooks in the late 19th century postcards cigarette cards labels beer mats trade cards little collectors cards stereoscopic cards two photographs that used to view through a viewer and perform a kind of 3d image and it was these sorts of collections which were you know not not too fashionable to collect um back in the day nowadays you know lots of people are very interested in this type of material but back when hillary and mary were collecting in the 50s 60s 70s you could pick up quite a lot of these things quite cheaply and um it would just be an area um that they would um be able to to kind of exploit and they saw would be of interest um to to to kind of picture buyers the imagery on on these types of items um we do have photography as well so photographic collections um but it but photography obviously is is is very important in image terms for 20th century history but the kind of core archive really only went up to around about the 1920s 1930s so again photographic collections came on a bit later and i'll i'll come on to that when i talk more about some of the collections we represent at the library rather than what we wholly own um and all of these amazing collections and loose prints if if they weren't bound into books or journals and magazines every single picture was pasted onto a kind of a4 blue card with a reference line saying what the picture was who did it and it was categorized into one of 12 major event areas now the reason for this categorization of pictures was so that the library and the archive could be a working resource for picture researchers both who worked at the library but also um researchers who were coming in to use the collection um so we're left with the this this incredible collection that's still organized in exactly the same way in the archive where if you want to find say a specific portrait of a ruler of ethiopia from the 1860s you could go to the ethiopian royalty draw and flick through and everything would be nicely organized in chronological order all the topographical places are a to z by country all the events are chronologically organized in the on these blue cards and so the library in all areas both in the books in the loose prints in the larger items in the plans chests in the magazines and in the ephemera items are all organized into these 12 subject categories so it makes it a very kind of usable and organized resource even though the types of original items are very very different um and really um as i mentioned hillary and mary continued right up to the ends of their lives that sadly both have died now a few years back um but they were they were collecting and going on trips to france and coming back and displaying all these wonderful things they'd purchased from some of their kind of acquisition trips uh to the staff um really right up to the end but as you can imagine today purchasing going out and buying large collections of archival and antique images and prints and books is an extremely expensive business taking a lot of kind of capital outlay to do that so we had to really think probably around 15 years ago how do we develop the content of the library how do we add more pictures for our clients to use um without actually going out and buying them ourselves and so the solution therefore was to start to represent externally owned contributor collections so those are archives and individuals collections and museum collections and the work of specific artists in the states who may still have been in copyright um but we can arrange things with with families etc and take in those collections already scanned in high resolution and provided with some sort of caption data and we make those available um on an agency basis so we're moving from kind of a a collection and a library which is based solely on our collections to one which is representing other collections and making those other collections available and this this kind of segues neatly onto what my role is at the library um my job title is is the head of content and so it's my job to administer the relationships with all of these contributors and so i set up arrangements um to represent these these collections i sometimes go out and try and source a collection if you see see a collection that looks of interest i'll approach them tell them about the library tell them a bit about what we do and say that we can offer this service on their behalf and sometimes people approach us and say i've got an amazing collection of motoring advertisements from the 1960s would you be interested in in representing these as part of the mary evans collection and then we will we will on occasion and kind of take them on and our contributors now form the lion's share of the images that we we have available for sale um through the website we've got over two million getting on now for two and a half million pictures available for sale through the mary evans picture library site probably only about 300 000 of those are wholly owned items that we we have digitized from some things in the collection all of the others come from collections externally owned collections we're representing um at the library so it's very very important all of these extra collections what it's allowed us to do is we haven't duplicated anything that we may have acquired over the years for the library but we've actually added different types of material so different periods have been covered we've added a lot more photographic collections to give us much more coverage of 20th century world history we've added fine arts collections we've added some multiple um collections from artists estates and photographers estates including street photography portraiture um huge huge collections and and some some very kind of special and some incredibly specialized collections as well part of the kind of ethos of mary and hillary's collection collecting i should say was to seek out things that were very unique they didn't want people to be seeing the same images again and again and again and you can do that sometimes with history if you've got kind of a famous portrait of elizabeth the first you'll probably just see the same one again and again but what hillary would have been excited about is if you found a mid-19th century engraving of elizabeth first doing something unusual or in a in a strange event or scene that's what would have fired his imagination and so we're always on the lookout for unique content that we can bring to the market make available to people which otherwise would not have been ever sometimes ever seen at all i think mary and hillary's great fear was that collections would end up on shelves and in ethics and just be hidden away from view photographic family photographic albums are a wonderful source of imagery and we've got some great collections based on personal family picture albums and these things these things just get lost the archives of major companies and institutions you hear stories of things just being put in a skip and never seen again and this was really totally anathema to what they were trying to do a large proportion of i suppose the drive behind what they were trying to do with the picture library was the preservation of this cultural heritage which otherwise would have been lost and making it available again for future generations and future usages and i have to say from part of you know my job if i find an interesting picture get it up on the site and then it's licensed say for a book jacket it is a wonderful feeling to then see this image that could potentially have never been seen again repurposed and given a new life in a new context it's a very very rewarding process there's one particular contributor collection which is a postcard archive it's owned by an individual who's a great collector and a very good friend of mine called grenville collins and he's a avid collector and an avid enthusiast about the library and what we do and since november i'll get this right november 2008 um i have alongside him catalogue 13 and a half thousand postcards so i've i've done the captions researched every single picture on every single card and we've digitized them all and that's one of our best performing collections nowadays um it's because the pictures have been chosen with great care as a unique image he's bought things from all over the place his various collections um and it started off with a kind of focus on late ottoman empire era turkey and then kind of moved around north africa and then up through eastern europe and then you started to get excited maybe you get pictures from all over the world but the key thing is the image it's the quality of the images it's something interesting um that the the that our clients would be interested to use and so my job is incredibly varied i'm never quite sure day to day who's going to get in touch where i might be heading in terms of available collections um and actually we've just this week yesterday in fact sent out a press release announcing the launch of a very prestigious collection when we're managing the sale of stills from the british pafe um films the the news um eclipse um and they've digitized as stills a whole series of their um of their news films newsreels and and we're having exclusive representation of that collection so it was last few months i've been have kind of faced with over 60 000 of these film stills that i've been working through and we've edited it down to 15 000 all of which are now online properly captioned and now available to image buyers and that's completely new content but some really really interesting perspectives on famous historical events from the 20th century which had never been seen before as stills they've been there as the films but again it's making things available and stills and that'll be going out worldwide to all our all our partners and hopefully that that will do very well and i think people like working with us because we tend to do things in a slightly different way um we're all historically trained as a staff we all have a passion for the the history behind the images um and it's not a case of just supplying a company with a set of images a set of data it gets logged on the website and forgotten about we see these relationships very much as partnerships we like to develop the material we like to add in more value to the collection when we put it on um we like to promote things in in sometimes an old-fashioned way we still like to as i mentioned to you before we started this conversation we still like to produce some print promotional items we do a calendar every year which goes out to all our clients and i've done a series of little books looking at different aspects of history using pictures from across our our um our collections um and i think people people like that personal approach it's much more of a a kind of a scholarly relationship rather than ostensibly and just a business one obviously we need to accrue money from the picture sales that we make to keep everything going to keep things ticking over but it's it's a balance between the commercial and the altruistic and and that's the way we've always operated and so far we've been successful in in doing that which is great because it keeps the legacy of what mary and hillary wanted to set up um wanted to set up going um in terms of the business um we work and sell our pictures to an incredibly wide range of clients i would hope that maybe people listening to this have seen the words mary evans picture library maybe at the end of a historical tv documentary or above an old picture in a magazine or in in the credits uh acknowledgement for a book um we we tend to supply pictures to all the major book publishers all the major tv production companies um newspapers um magazines um our pictures are used a lot for kind of creative projects so for greetings cards the giftware items for designers love some of the things like the lovely kind of art deco 1920s fashion illustrations you always see those being used um and and things like the fantastic monaco motor racing posters and travel posters um always perennially popular for a number of different projects and and we've always had a very strong brand presence and for a small a small team working out of an old parish hall in black keys the words mary evans picture library and are known across the world as a source for interesting and unique historical um imagery which is a wonderful thing and really in in the kind of today's digital world one can do that you can kind of create a presence in the marketplace which we we have done done quite successfully and we've always sold directly very well into the united states to france to germany because we've had a lot of pictures that have been sourced from those countries and so users have always been very interested to use our collections um but another thing where we've kind of developed the business side over the past um 20 years um has been through the creation of a network of international partner agents who take our collection and sell our pictures within their own geographically determined territories um and so if you were in south korea and wanted to have a historical picture a picture of isaac newton watching an apple fall off the tree for your textbook you would have a choice of four different agencies within south korea who have and represent the mary evans picture library collection each in their own kind of area each doing slightly different business and myself and paul brown our managing director every year are continually honing that network of agents to make sure that our pictures and the pictures of our represented contributors are available pretty much wherever you are in the in the world will be somewhere you can access the pictures and the good thing with working with international partners is they they put their images on on their own sites they translate the metadata into the local language and make it available in that way and so we we sell direct we sell through our agents and we also have a public facing side to the business which is the sale of reproduction prints and giftware items on a print-on-demand model we work with a number of companies the main one being media storehouse in the uk through our prints online website and that allows the general public to purchase reproduction prints and mugs and t-shirts and key rings and mouth mats and using the images obviously using suitable images from our collection not everything is is applicable for that sort of use but it allows people to have access through to our collections um which which is which is excellent um so again kind of returning to me and maybe my my role um in terms of the work i'm doing on a day-to-day basis it's very much linked to um the uploading i suppose of new content onto our website so i'm doing a lot of metadata manipulation now if you have a clue what that means that means the kind of editing and organization of um the data that sits behind a visual image you could have the best picture you'd have the most wonderful painting in the whole world but if it was poorly keyworded tagged if it had a very incorrect caption it would never be found by every anyone nowadays on the internet you need a very strong set of data behind the picture for it to work effectively on a website which is relying on people using keyword search if ever you've kind of searched on google images for something in particular and thought why can't i find this picture it's possible that that picture is there but it hasn't been tagged properly so as much care goes in from my side into the words and the text that sits behind an image and as it does to making sure the image itself is very effective there still isn't really a kind of way i'm sure it's kind of in development somewhere for kind of to search the images just by what they look like through some kind of crazy visual means and you can do that you can do that retrospectively yeah google didn't search um we can't do it through our site yet i'm probably not quite that high-tech but i'm developing data for collections i'm i'm making sure that images um look nice i'm doing a very small proportion of scanning obviously we need to digitize things in our own collection it's not really my my role to do that i do that occasionally for some some collections um i do quite a lot of the graphic design for the company as well so i've kind of designed the calendar we design advertisements and i also have a lot of contact directly with our international partner agents managing the images they have sometimes removing pictures from sale in certain territories if rights restrictions change making sure that everything is absolutely solid in terms of copyright one of the big challenges of what we do is copyright and making sure that images we make available only need to be cleared through ourselves for the rights and you don't have to go anywhere else and clear it through a third party and we feel we we need to offer that as a service to our clients to cover absolutely all aspects of that a lot of people get very confused about copyright in old pictures and they see something that might have been from the 1840s and say well why can't i just use that for free it's in the public domain and i mean my my response to that is that scan has come from an original that is owned by someone and there's been considerable time and investment in the creation of that scam in the creation of the data in the housing and conservation of looking after the original item um and and that really is where the ownership and the copyright and the new scan um fits and you can't just just assume that this stuff is freely emerging as the ether it's not it's not the um it's not the case um it it costs an awful lot to do what we do in terms of the investment we make um as you yourselves know as a company that do a lot of kind of digitization of collections it's a very lengthy and involved process and if you want to do it really well which you also know all about it's something that has to have time and effort put into it to to properly preserve these things because the digitization of these collections is really the kind of key aspect in preservation that we're doing because you know original archival prints they are fragile these books do fall apart the leather ends up all over your shirt you know it's it's those sorts of situations where the original has a lifespan but it's a lifespan that can be increased by the creation of a very good high-res digital copy that not only gives it new potential for reuse but also in in a way preserves um the information uh that was was put in and the effort that was put in to create the item um in the first place um so we you know we're we're continuing to to look always for new areas to sell our pictures new business opportunities we're growing our international business we're developing aspects of the technology that sits behind the website and the search engine technologies we're always looking at how we can optimize that and we're working with partners who are who are finding interesting and new creative ways to sell pictures whether they're taking our pictures and using them for wallpaper or how they're selling them uh using them first fabrics all sorts of things like that historical imagery works really really well um for for those type of design design projects um so i mean looking looking kind of forward um into the into the future what what do we want to do we want to continue to grow we want to survive as a small specialist library and we want to be able to continue to provide the great service that we do to our clients and to our contributors and we want to work in in the spirit that mary and hillary set up but we need to do it in a way that continues to generate revenue and continues to allow us to do some of the more um interesting kind of creative and altruistic projects and to put online a few things that may only ever be used once but the key thing is we put it online so if someone wants it they'll be able to find it it hasn't been lost um hillary always had a great phrase when you'd come up with a picture maybe of someone completely obscure from the past and you think who is ever going to use the 15th uh duchess of wutenberg from 1631 and he would say well at the time that this picture was produced someone put in the time and the care and the effort to create this image so therefore that person must have been somebody at the time and they'll be someone who's looking out for that picture absolutely no things it is it's a lovely way of looking at things but it has created for us and our kind of imagery um that is very very different very unusual people like coming to mary on mary evans and often say we've come to you for this project because we know you'll have the things that nobody else has has the main thing is that we also have the things that other people do have so we have a good good coverage of imagery and we're always looking to broaden out our scope into many different areas as i was saying before about you know developing the contributor collections we're looking to give as broad a range and information on history as we can um i think you you've mentioned to me before you'd be possibly interested in finding out what's sort of i would deem our most interesting idea yeah yeah i mean your collection is from 1964 but as you have mentioned you have stuff from all periods so i mean what is your favorite just personally obviously very difficult i've got lots of kind of favorites and many will be kind of specific images within collections but um just literally off the top of my head which is always the best way to do this because you scribble down then what probably is the most important i've written a couple of things which i'll tell you about the first is an amazing set of um cigar box insert cards they think kind of cigarette cards was a little bit bigger from france and hillary clinton over a few years the entire set of these they're quite rare and they're called they were they were published originally in 1896 and they are called in the year 2000. and the artist uh jean-marc cote was looking forward to the year 2000 back in 1896 and trying to envisage what life would be like then and actually he was pretty good if you look these up online um he wasn't too far off on a couple of things a few things were quite fanciful he thought that at least half of us would be living underwater by this point and riding around on seahorses and um having races on whales maybe whale buses i wish yeah but he had he had um things like um robot um tailors so you'd be measured for your suit by robots he had mechanized construction so again that's not too far off um he envisaged probably a good thing a good kind of 12 years before it happened that there'd be aerial warfare and so he was having kind of airships firing at each other and the first kind of aerial combat was in the early years of the first world war so that was you know again again quite a good kind of future future prediction and really the one i the one i love is it's um oh what's the capture the caption is corresponds um telephonic or something like this and it's and it's a perfect representation in kind of late victorian style of calling someone on facetime so there's a little device and it's showing somebody and you're actually talking to them even though they're not there so i i love that little set of cards i think it's totally unique when people visit the library i always kind of get that folder down and show them and it's always quite fun and quite quirky and in many ways encapsulates all the things that hillary liked about picture collecting that was right up right up his street we've got some wonderful really old items we've got a page from a 12th century quran we've got a couple of wonderful early antiquarian books by the antiquarian william stukley who traveled around the united kingdom recording archaeological sites long before these were properly understood um i think he thought they were all they were all um to do with the druids so there's lots of like comments about that but there's some fantastic drawings some of his plans and maps of places like avery and stonehenge just to be able to handle those those things are great and we've got another big leather-bound book from 1555 which was a collection of historical figures i think it was something called lives of the famous men and this was by a french artist and writer called andre seve and that actually covered some very interesting people up to that point including some of the kind of central american aztec and inca rulers julius caesar pirates all all of these sorts of things in in a very very beautiful and decorative illustrative way and that that's a lovely rare item um and and hillary and mary were always very keen for people to take these books off the shelves and have a look through again it was you know there isn't a pair of white gloves to be seen in our building which probably causes anyone from a museum who comes to visit to have kind of minor heart palpitations but it's a working archive and what we do is is is embedded in that access um is absolutely absolutely key um and it has been it has been a huge progression really and a change from how we work since kind of i spent year 2000 2001 i did but working at the library i better tell you this is the only job i've ever had i saw a tiny little advert back in when i finished university i studied archaeology um and i wasn't quite sure what i wanted to do i didn't really want to be an archaeologist and i come from a i come from a family of artists so both my parents my sister they're all kind of fine artists i didn't want to do that either because again that's what they did yeah let's do something different and i thought i saw in the guardian one monday a tiny lever only about an inch and a half square for a picture researcher job at the library and every single one of the bullet points and ticked the boxes for me you must be you know happy happy to talk to people yep that's fine no worries there you have to have an interest in history and in art and i thought this sounds great and so i got i'd sent my application off got an interview and as soon as i walked through the door i knew this had to be the place i ended up and thankfully i got the job and i've been there ever since so i had my i had my 20th anniversary last year working at the library and i think you're fine and we found that people do stay there for years and years i'm i'm by no means the kind of longest serving member of staff so that's the sound of a good workplace well absolutely absolutely we're embedded in the collection we love what we do we love working with the collections and with the pictures and we're enthused to tell people about it to get those pictures out there which i think in any business if you can be in that situation it'll it'll go well um but around about 2000 2001 you're realizing the people who are wanting to find and buy images it was a shift from sending out analog prints and transparencies to them wanting a picture by email a digital high-res copy so we had to furiously think how are we going to survive and actually lots of the smaller specialist pitch libraries weren't able to cope at that stage they didn't have the resources to be able to digitize entire collections and so we made the decision we were going to scan in low res everything we copied onto transparency so we had a kind of team of people around the country used to take on suitcases full of transparency and scan and scan and scan and we developed this um very very basic at that stage searchable website and i'm glad we did because we were we adopted it early enough but we also waited to see where mistakes were made in that process in in other in other in other places um and now now we're exclusively a digital concern we're only kind of accepting high-res digital scans um a lot of my work with our contributors is educating them in how best to gather data and how best to caption pictures and how best to scan and digitize collections um if they can't do it i'll obviously send them to max to get all their scans done if if they've got a scanner i'll i'll look at what they're doing and make some suggestions um i've got lots of templates for keywording and captioning um because it's much better for people to also become totally invested in their collection this is their thing and we can take it on and we can help them in certain areas but to bring it up to the kind of level required it is something that any anyone can do with a little bit of guidance um that they can create a collection and there's so many wonderful collections out there and as i've said to you before i never know from day to day what's going to pop into my inbox what opportunities will arise in terms of pictures and picture collections becoming available something amazing like the pathe collection only happens now and again but all the time there's individuals who see what we do who will see the name mary evans picture library and think oh actually i've got you know wonderful i've just inherited an incredible photo album from my great grandmother um what do i do with this you know there's pictures here that should deserve to be seen and could be useful and we can we can help people in that regard and sometimes you know help generate a bit of revenue for them to help the process of getting more things more things scanned so you're always welcoming new interesting acquisitions yeah perhaps absolutely yeah very much so it wouldn't it wouldn't work unless unless we did that you have a fantastic website i have to say and are all two and a half million images that you you've just tied up available on there yep pretty much um you'll have to register for the site and log in to view all of our historic cinema collection images as well as images related to events and personalities and all aspects of life in the past at least half of our collection nowadays is the history of cinema and film and we represent a few enormous collections of covering all aspects of the history of cinema which is again a wonderful thing to add into what we can offer including kind of exclusive representations of certain film studios such as studio canal we have all of all of their behind the scenes photography of the films and posters um and you need to log in and register to be able to see that material because we need to put in a few more kind of controls on how that is used and distributed because it's slightly more slightly more restricted in terms of usage for the film material but i would yeah i you know recommend anyone if they'd like to you know fall down the rabbit hole of wonderful imagery go on to sign in have a little browse look through some of the collections we've got an extensive collections and artists page and we have an anniversaries section of the website where you can look ahead to upcoming anniversaries and see picture collections there and we also write blogs and and do newsletters and features all available through the website on on historical topics so if history in the past is your thing and you enjoy great imagery do have a browse i'm sure you'll find something there that's that's um of interest well i'm personally going to check out the cigar cards they sound very interesting i will send you a link face to face i will put a link to your website up in the section thereof wonderful thank you so much for talking to me today tom you're clearly very passionate about being able to do and thank you very much okay no worries cheers