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The Microfilm and Microfiche Digital Archive

The Microfilm and Microfiche Digital Archive


Microfilm and Microfiche, together known as Microforms, are small reproductions of documents. They’re used to store important information physically while offering the option to be located and read in a time-consuming manner.

A history of microfilm and microfiche

Back in 1851, an astronomer named James Glaisher suggested using microphotography as a document preservation method. However, it wasn’t until 1896 when microphotography was used for practical purposes.

World-famous publication ‘The New York Times’ ushered in the era of newspaper preservation on film in 1935. Only one year later, the American Library Association officially endorsed microfilms as a method of information storage at its annual meeting.

Harvard University Library, having researched the potential of the data storage application, was the first major institution to use microfilm to preserve broadsheets two years later.

What are microfilm and microfiche used for?

There are many applications where microfilm and microfiche can be used.

Libraries began using microfilm in the mid-20th century as a way to preserve newspaper collections that were suffering from wear and tear, eventually extending to decaying books.

In addition to libraries, by the 1960s betting shops began to use microforms as a way of keeping compact records of bets placed. Doing this aided in preventing fraud when betting shop customers would attempt to amend their betting slip receipt.

In today’s growing digital world, microfilm and microfiche have multiple uses. You’ll see them utilised by GP surgeries, schools and even HR departments in the workplace.

When it comes to preserving and having easy access to valuable documents, converting your microfilm or microfiche slides into digital files is one of the most time-saving and cost-effective ways of ensuring your record collection is safely stored and ready for instant use. From church records to entire office paperwork collections, many catalogues have been converted to microfilm and microfiche over the years and most of us have relied on them at some point in our working lives. In the digital era, however, this technology has long since had its day.

Between the reels themselves and the bulky machines required to read them, retaining an archive of microfilm can take up significant amounts of valuable space and the process of trawling through the slides to find the information you need can be a very lengthy and laborious process. They are also a far from secure way of storing important data. Microfilm and microfiche are extremely fragile and are vulnerable to heat, humidity, fire, water and the scratches and damage which inevitably come with frequent use. Even the smallest amount of damage to the slides can make them unreadable, while the fact that they are so small means they can all too easily be misplaced or even stolen.

Offices and archives are now becoming increasingly interested in digitising their microfilm records, but the need for specialist equipment and expertise in digitisation means this is not something that can be done in-house. At Capital, we have invested in the most advanced image capture technology which allows us to convert your microfilm and microfiche data into any format you require, be it TIFF file or PDF.

The process of converting your valuable documents is fast and simple. A secure collection service can visit your office to collect your film archive, which is then scanned using our powerful scanning equipment and converted into the file type you have requested.

Knowing how wary companies naturally are about the loss of important data, we have the added safety net of keeping back-ups of your files off-site. We are also acutely aware of how sensitive some of the data we are handling can be, which is why we password protect your records in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation and our trusted team of scanning professionals maintain the highest levels of client confidentiality. Once your records have been digitised, you can either choose to have your microfilm returned to you or we can ensure that it is securely destroyed once the work is complete.

As more and more offices make the move to paperlite or paperless systems, professionally digitising your microfilm and microfiche records makes sound business sense. With an easy to search digital catalogue and less space given over to outdated technology, you can save money, time and energy and ensure your office becomes more efficient and better prepared for the digital world.

Contact us today for more information

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