Why Libraries Should Convert Microfilm to Digital

Newspapers and magazines are intended to be ephemeral documents. Nevertheless, sometimes it is desirable to access the information they contain at a later date. Storing periodicals takes up a lot of room and isn’t practical in the long term because of the ease of tearing. Important periodicals can be kept as bound copies, but this also takes up a lot of space and is expensive. In the past, microfilm allowed libraries to store periodicals in a way that was more sturdy and space-efficient than keeping the originals and more cost-efficient than bound copies.

With the rise of digitization, microfilm is no longer the best option for the storage of periodicals. When your library decides to convert 8mm to digital, any documents that you have in a microfilm archive, not only periodicals but historical documents and public records as well, become more efficient, more secure, and more accessible than they were before.

What Are Microfilm and Microfiche?

The microphotography that makes microfilm possible was developed in the mid-19th century. At first, this was viewed as more of a novelty than anything else. Before readers were developed to access the microfilm, the images had to be viewed under a microscope.

It wasn’t until the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 that a practical use for microfilm was discovered. It was used by the French to fly messages into the capital city of Paris using carrier pigeons across enemy lines.

Microfilm is stored in large rolls or cartridges. It comes in various sizes:

  • 105 mm
  • 35 mm
  • 16 mm

Microfiche is a type of microfilm. The main difference is that the images are available in large sheets rather than in a narrow film. The images themselves range from 16 mm to 70 mm.

What Are the Disadvantages of Microfilm?

While microfilm(1) storage is more efficient than keeping periodicals and other documents, it still takes up a lot more space than digital files. Not only that, but you also need to devote space to the machines needed to access the files. In addition to being bulky, these machines are also prone to breaking down. Since the technology is dated, it may be difficult to find replacements or someone who is able to repair them.

Finding information on microfilm is a lot more difficult than finding it in a digital file, especially for people who are used to conducting research on the internet. You have to have a pretty good idea of where to locate what you’re looking for before you even begin searching, and even then, it can take hours before you find the right image.

While more durable than paper periodicals and documents, microfilm is susceptible to accidental tearing or bending. The risk of damage or destruction of the microfilm increases with increased use. There is also a concern that the microfilm may become lost due to misfiling or that the entire archive could be destroyed if there were a fire or natural disaster affecting the library building.

Another major disadvantage of microfilm is that the person wanting to access it has to be at the same location, which may not be practical if it is a document that is extremely rare or the individual lives far away from the archive. When you hire microfilm scanning services for the conversion, you make the document accessible to users from all over the world.

What Are the Advantages of Microfilm Conversion?

One of the biggest advantages to be gained from the digitization of microfilm is that it can be stored in many different formats. This not only includes digital image protocols such as GIF, TIFF, and JPEG. Microfilm images can also be stored as searchable PDFs. This can be a huge advantage for people looking to access the information because they can use familiar search engines to find the exact keyword that they’re looking for, cutting down significantly on their research time.

To convert microfilm to digital is to increase access to the information. If the scans are available on the internet, they are available to people all over the world, even those who would not ordinarily be able to come to the physical location where the microfilm was stored. It also allows people to conduct their research at all times of day, even outside the hours that the library would usually be open.

In any library, storage space is almost always in high demand. Digitization allows the microfilms and their readers to either be disposed of or stored off-site where they no longer contribute to the clutter. You can then find a better use for the newly available space.

Digitization of microfilms also helps to preserve them. Even if the physical films or original documents are destroyed in a natural disaster or a fire, digital images collected with microfilm scanning services and stored in an off-site server are protected from damage and can be retrieved.

The purpose of a library is to preserve information for later access and use. A microfilm-to-digital conversion can help the library complete its mission more efficiently.

 

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