Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rumors of microfilms' death have been exaggerated

Bennett Lovett-Graff has a long blog post on micropublishers that he wrote back in March. We tend to this the microfilm is going out of style, but Lovett-Graff reminds us that:
microfilm is a preservation medium, capable of lasting hundreds of years with proper care; it is relatively inexpensive to duplicate; although cumbersome to use, the basic technology to view the data is simple, requiring little more than a light and a lens; security of the original material from theft or wear and tear is supplied without having to restrict access; the space savings is very real and for libraries in metropolitan areas the saved opportunity costs formidable.
He then talks about companies microfilming materials from library and other collections for free in return for the rights to sell the microfilm. Who would have thought that it is still profitable to sell microfilm!

Is digitization impacting the creation of microfilm? Not as much as people anticipated. If you want to create microfilm in order to sell it (and thus providing better access to the information), then digitization makes the materials available in a better format. However, many are creating microfilm for its preservation qualities and that business is not diminishing as quickly as anticipated.

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anne beaumont said...

Not sure that this is true in all locations. Here in Australia we are finding it more difficult to find contractors who themselves can source the film as well as the appropriate equipment to microfilm our titles, which includes newspapers as well as periodicals. There is a strong push to go digital initially & then possibly output to film. I do not have direct experience, but sit on an internal committee which makes strategic decisions on digitisation, and the problem was raised by our senior photographer who had been carrying out the investigations.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear it. Now, who wants to buy my two used Filemaster 16mm microfilm camera set ups? It seems that the market for them hereabouts has pretty much dried up. Oh, they are for sale because my major client went digital. (sigh)