Microfilm Scanners: Transitioning from One Storage Technology to Another (Part 1 of 2)

Posted by Kevin D'Arcy on Apr 9, 2012 9:26:52 PM

Microfilm scanners are used to turn microfilm archives into digital formats. Microfilm and microfiche were the main storage media for decades. Since the 1970s, libraries, law firms, government agencies, museums and other institutions used this media to archive material in a more efficient manner. It certainly was easier and cheaper to store a roll of film than hundreds of publications.

Microfilm and microfiche serve the same purpose. They create images of document material and archive it on a film material. The only difference between the two media is the shape of the final product. For example, microfilm puts document images on a roll of film. Microfiche, on the other hand, houses document images on a flat sheet.

To access information stored on microfilm or microfiche, a microfilm reader is required. Users put the microfilm into the reader and the images are enlarged so they could be easily viewed. Most microfilm and microfiche are stored as negative images. The reader, therefore, converts the archive to positive images.

The microfilm archival method has been popular for journals, books, newspapers and historical documents. By storing the information on film, the original documents are preserved. The public can view the contents of these materials easily and without causing damage to the paper-based original.

The Digital Era Changes Document Archiving

To preserve the vast amount of information contained in documents, microfilm and microfiche were the only viable solutions for many years. However, when the world started going digital, microfilm and microfiche were viewed as archaic methods. Storing data on digital media, such as disks and removable drives, became the new norm.

But, what happens to the millions of documents stored currently archived on microfilm and microfiche? Enter microfilm scanners.

Basically, microfilm scanners scan the images on microfilm and convert them into a digital format. Then, the digital files are stored as soft copies. The conversion can be done by purchasing a microfilm scanner or using a scanning service.

Organizations need to conduct a cost analysis to determine the best course of action for digitizing their microfilm archives. Often, the volume of microfilm will dictate whether purchasing a microfilm scanner or outsourcing the project makes sense.

In part two of this series we will look at the characteristics of microfilm scanners. Continue to read the MES Hybrid blog for additional information or contact MES Hybrid today.

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