The digitisation of physical objects offers key strategic benefits to research libraries. The existence of digital surrogates allows for scholars and students who are not able to visit the host institution to access and investigate resources that would otherwise be unavailable to them. Preservation of rare and fragile material may be enhanced as readers who only need access to the contents no longer handle the original objects. If the digital surrogate satisfies the vast majority of users then the original object may be stored off-campus, so liberating key on-campus ‘real estate’ for other purposes. Finally, the existence of large-scale digital and digitised collections allows for new types of scholarship based on text and data mining.