Microfilm & Microfiche to Digital: A Transition Guide

Posted by Kevin D'Arcy on Sep 18, 2014 8:33:00 AM

Microfilm & Microfiche ScanningMicrofilm and microfiche have both withstood the test of time. Dating back to pre-1900, the technology has been used commercially and by library and archival institutions since, to keep records and retain documents. While the format is certainly not dead, there has been a realization that there are more effective ways to store and access these documents that are free from many of the disadvantages inherent to the formats, namely:

  • Magnification issues

  • Limited searchability

  • Limited indexing

  • Lack of image quality

  • Inability to share documents

  • Inability to have multiple people read/use simultaneously

Because of the benefits that digital offers, businesses, libraries and archives, and other institutions are opting for microfilm scanning and microfiche scanning. If this is an option your organization is considering, here is a helpful guide to help you get started.

Is Scanning What You Need?

Before you make the decision to jump into microfilm or microfiche scanning, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you mandated to maintain all current records in a central repository? With your microfilm and microfiche scanned, all of your content is now digital and can be found quickly and efficiently in a centralized location.

  • Has your existing microfilm/microfiche equipment broken down? The readers and equipment used for these formats are expensive to maintain. Scanning eliminates this cost entirely.

  • Does your existing collection have little or no indexing system? Digital images can be easily scanned, indexed and searched for quick, convenient access by anyone in your company.

  • Do you have a disaster/recovery back up plan for your microfilm and microfiche? Digitizing microfilm and microfiche ensures that all data is backed up, and can even be done securely, whether on or off site.

  • Is your current system creating bottlenecks and inefficiencies? Or is it fulfilling your organizational needs? Your current system likely isn’t keeping up with the pace of your business or fulfilling the needs of your organization. Microfilm and microfiche scanning can help to alleviate many of the inefficiencies you are currently experiencing so you can operate more effectively.

How Do I Find a Vendor?

Searching for a vendor to scan your microfilm/microfiche is a matter of ensuring that they have the technology and expertise to fulfill the needs of your business. You should consider the technological capabilities of any vendor you look at.

  • What formats can they work with (16mm Rollfilm, 35mm Rollfilm, Microfilm Jackets, Microfiche, COM Films and Aperture Cards)?

  • What equipment do they use? Are they leveraging high-quality optical character recognition (OCR) technology?

  • Do they use post-imaging technology to ensure clear, enhanced reproductions?

Finally, you should consider what kinds of applications they have experience working with. A good provider will have expertise with newspaper, financial records, manuals, engineering and manufacturing drawings, and various other documents.

Should I Invest In My Own Scanner?

Many vendors who provide microfilm scanning and microfiche scanning services also offer professional-grade scanning equipment. If you expect you will need this kind of equipment due to a high volume or scanning or a continual need to scan items, you may want to look into purchasing equipment. Prior to purchasing, ensure that you view specifications so that you make an informed decision that aligns with your organizational needs.

Once you consider all of these things in regards to your microfilm and microfiche scanning needs, you can make the transition to digital without running into any issues. That way, you can reap the benefits of digitization while also eliminating inefficiencies and costs associated with maintaining your microfilm and microfiche collection.

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