Wide format is considered a special format type mostly due to its size. Generally speaking, it is any information source on paper with a dimension larger than standard office paper. Wide format paper ranges from 16 to 24. Examples include architectural drawings, construction plans, maps, engineered drawings and blueprints. On the other hand, microfilm and microfiche are considered special formats because of their ability to preserve information in compact, reduced size. Newspapers, journals and some photographs are commonly stored on micro-formats. Special library collections are also referred to as special formats because of the age and rarity of contents.
Why is all of this important? Well, wide formats, micro-formats and special collections are oftentimes subject to digital conversion. Say for example, an architect needs digital access to an engineered drawing that exists only in paper format. Perhaps a library plans to convert all special collections to digital in attempt to free up shelf space. It’s very likely there will come a time when contents existing only on micro-formats need to be accessed as digital files.
Working with special formats like those mentioned can present challenges and difficulty in conversion. The method of conversion depends on a number of factors like document type, color or black/white, accessibility requirements and how the information is used. In addition to the basic need for a digital file, searchability is a huge component to digital conversion. For example, locating a specific piece of information from a newspaper on microfilm is like finding a needle in a haystack. Once special formats are converted into digital or text files, they should be OCR and indexed. This is the only way to search and retrieve efficiently.
ILM has almost 40 years of experience handling the preservation and conversion of special formats. Our solutions provide information in a useable and accessible form that is fully customized for how you want to use the data. For more information on digitizing wide formats, micro-formats or other special collections, contact us today!