The Longevity of Microfilm and Microfiche

Microfilm and microfiche are two different types of microform.  The contents of microfilm are stored on reels of film, while microfiche are on flat sheets of film.  What is unique about this type of publishing format is that it captures information via photograph, and by converting it into a microformat, creates a compact and durable format type.  To read microfilm and microfiche special equipment is required.

We began to see the use of microfilm and microfiche in libraries beginning in the 20th century.  Paper was susceptible to damage and decay over time, so these formats were used to preserve the contents of books, newspapers and journals.  Microforms were also a way to make available items no longer circulating the shelves.  If a library guest wanted to view a newspaper article from let’s say, 25 years ago, microform would be their best bet to locate the information.  Libraries found that microforms were a great space-saving technique.  It’s easily stored away to create shelf space for expanding collections. Microforms are typically located in a library’s periodicals or special collections room.

You’d think in our digital revolution that age-old formats like microfilm and microfiche would be obsolete. Yet what other medium is proven to last up to 500 years?  That’s right, microfilm, which became standard practice over microfiche during the 1960’s, can preserve information for hundreds of years.  Depending on an organization’s goals for the future, microfilm can be an affordable, practical and reliable alternative to archiving information on paper.

Did you know…

…Microfilm can be read by the naked eye using only light and magnification, if necessary?

…Microfilm reproduces an identical of the original, 100% unedited and accurate?

…It takes up as little as 2% of the space on shelves compared to paper?

…Retrieval speed from microfilm is quickly approaching speed from digital devices?

…Hybrid scanning devices can produce digital and microfilm images simultaneously?

…Hybrid-approach document management solutions combine digital and microfilm storage?

For more information on digital imaging and conversion solutions for microformat types, contact ILM today.

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