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Store It In Microfilm

Aug 17, 2007
Got books, periodicals, or whatever pertinent documents that need to be stored in a compact and reliable format? Then put it in microfilm. Amidst the so-called digital revolution, preservation by use of microfilm is still widely valued and practiced.

Most people only remember microfilm from their school days when they were researching for a term paper or report. In fact, most people see this as an old-fashion way of storing information.

They are not aware that significant developments have been made by the microfilm and microfilm equipment manufacturers while digital systems became popular.

Several companies continued to invest in research and development of new microfilm products, which lead to the production of and availability of advanced microfilm systems.

Below are just some of the advantages of microfilm.

1. Being compact is probably microfilm's foremost advantage. By using either a roll of black and white 35mm photographic film or a Hollerith punch card that mounts a single exposure, microfilm has the capacity to store a year's worth of periodicals into a format that takes up 10 percent of the original's space and 3 percent of the original's weight.

2. Another advantage of microfilm is it's relatively lower cost than standard subscription rates. This is because microfilm has lower reproduction costs than a comparable amount of printed paper.

3. Because it's an analog format, microfilm is easier to view because there is no special equipment needed unlike digital media. Actually, the only needed equipment is a simple magnifying glass and good lighting. This reduces the possibility of obsolescence.

4. Microfilm is a legally accepted substitute for the original.

5. Though potential of microfilms admittedly pales in comparison with that of digital technology, microfilms can enhance access to information that would otherwise be unavailable because the original item is at a distant site or is vulnerable to damage and/or loss through handling.

6. Microfilms are relatively inexpensive to produce and to copy.

7. Microfilm stores a high quality grayscale image inexpensively.

8. Microfilm is a durable media.

9. Standards for creating, processing and storing microfilms exist.

10. Equipment to read microfilm will not become obsolete.

11. Microfilm is also a very stable archival form. Because most microfilms use polyester with silver-halide dyes in hard gelatin, it has an estimated life of 500 years in air-conditioning.

However, being analog format, it is true that microfilm also has a few disadvantages compared to digital formats. These include:

1. Microfilm images are too small to read. Special readers that project full-size images on a ground-glass screen are often used especially by libraries.

2. Images in microfilms cannot be reproduced using a conventional photocopier. There are special viewers though that produces a photocopy of microfilm image.

3. Images in microfilm can also be only be reproduced a limited number of times, while digital media regenerate and often include error detection and correction schemes.

Still, the advantages of microfilming still outweigh the disadvantages. That is why it is highly advisable for individuals and institutions to use microfilms for the archival requirements.

There are commercial microfilmers that are ready to convert your books and documents to microfilm. In choosing a service provider, it is a good idea to visit and make sure that environmental control, fire protection, housekeeping, and security meet the needs of the collections that will be filmed.

This is very important so damage to original materials that will be returned to the collection rather than being discarded will be prevented.
About the Author
James Monahan is the owner and Senior Editor of
MicrofilmGuide.com and writes expert
articles about microfilm .
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