From Microfilms to Digital: Release valuable information trapped in your microfilm archives

Posted by MESHDS on Jun 15, 2021 10:00:00 AM

In today's digital world, microfilm and microfiche may sound like outdated formats to store and archive information. You may be surprised to know that many institutions with old archives like older financial institutions, libraries, and government archives still hold legacy information in these microformats. 

A bit of history about microformats

Microfilm is an archival medium based on film rolls, usually 16-35mm, while microfiche is a flat, card-like medium. The aperture card is another such photographic microformat which is a paper-stock card with a single microfilm frame. These microformats successfully stored legacy records, old architectural or engineering drawings, early financial records, and copies of old books or manuscripts in libraries. A large amount of information was captured and stored in these photographic formats.

Microfilms were first used way back in the 1920s by the banking industry. Other institutions like libraries and newsprint organizations soon adopted them—for example, the Library of Congress took up a microfilm archival project in 1927. The New York Times began using microfilm archives in 1935. Soon, cultural heritage organizations also realized that they could affordably store their collections on microfilm. Imagine the vast amount of information, old records and valuable manuscripts that these formats may still hold.

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Challenges in storage and retrieval of data from microfilmd and microfiches 

Microfilms and fiches need specific storage environments for reliable and easy retrieval of information. It is critical to maintain the right temperature and humidity levels in storage areas for these materials to prevent the films from degrading. Pollutants like dust create abrasions and damage the films. Gaseous air contaminants such as sulphur oxides, paint fumes, or ammonia also damage these films easily. Moreover, you need special microfilm or microfiche readers to access and retrieve the data stored in these formats.

With so many challenges in storage, institutions that store valuable data on films are constantly looking for ways and means to:  

  • Reduce the risk of film damage, and minimize the risk of losing information.
  • Optimize the cost of storage and the space these films occupy. 
  • Make access and retrieval easier without relying on special reading equipment.

Scanning microfilms and microfiches 

There is a strong business case for converting microfilms and microfiche to digital formats for reliable and affordable long-term storage. Scanning is the solution to digitize these films, improve information access, make retrieval effortless and reliable, and prevent information loss.

Organizations place such high value on their microfilm and microfiche because of one simple fact; it's their only copy of that record, and they must protect it at all costs! Microfilm scanning provides them with a backup digital copy to protect them from losing valuable legacy information in the event of a disaster or due to negligent handling or storage.

One of the main reasons why digitizing microfilms is imperative is that searching through microfilm archives for a specific piece of information is time-consuming and tedious. The same search is fast and effective when the archives are in a digital format. Microfilms are now an outdated technology—and if our institutions are to remain relevant in today's fast-paced digital world, they must embrace digitization. 

DIY on-demand scanning vs using a professional scanning company

Some institutions may need to scan a few microfilms occasionally. In-house microfilm scanners are adequate for such low-volume, on-demand requirements. But some institutions may hold a large volume of archives on microformats that must be digitized for reliable, long-term storage. An outsourced document digitization services provider is ideal for a scanning project of this scale. Professional scanning companies provide:

  • Production-grade hardware for high-speed and reliable scanning results
  • Trained technical staff who plan and execute large-volume scanning competently and without errors
  • Secure transport of films to the scanning facility, dedicated team with identity and background checks to handle sensitive or confidential information
  •  Project managers to plan, execute and QC a large-scale scanning project 

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Why MES?

At MES, we scan over 800,000 images a day from microfilm, integrated with advanced image clean-up software to get the best available quality from your film collections. 

We convert your historic microfilm records to digital file formats quickly and accurately so that they can be electronically stored, retrieved, tracked and managed from any computer or mobile device.

Our experienced staff executes flawless microfilm and microfiche scanning services that take away all your scanning hassles and leave your in-house teams to concentrate on their core tasks.

  • At MES, we have a strong chain of custody process to transport and scan microfilms at our conversion facility.  
  • With a scanning capacity of over 10 million documents per month, we handle high-volume digitization projects using production-grade scanning hardware.
  • Our trained and dedicated staff give our customers a seamless, hassle-free experience.

Alternatively, MES can also assist you in augmenting your scanning infrastructure by supplying you with document scanners in your office premises. 

Download our hardware resource to understand how to choose the right microfilm scanner

Choose from a range of microfilm scanners:

Uscan Film Scanner

 Builds capacity to read/scan/print/email and save images from roll microfilm, microfiche, aperture cards and photographic materials.

Mekel Roll Film Scanner

Efficiently converts your microfilm collection into digital images and scans an entire roll in 3 minutes. It comes in different models to cater to different needs and budgets. 

Mekel Microfiche Scanner

Digitize your microfiche quickly and easily. This scanner converts various microfiche, aperture card & microfilm jacket formats at a speed of up to 200 images per minute.

Whether it is legacy banking records stored on microfilms or healthcare records that need to be integrated into an EHS system, we help institutions digitize mission-critical information. Our digital conversion services capture legacy data trapped in old microfilm and microfiche formats and make it available and accessible. 

Contact MES for a free quote on our microfilm and microfiche scanning services today. 

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