Modern microfilm and microfiche conversion services offer more than digitization.
We understand archived microform represents invaluable information you’re entrusted to preserve. Choosing the right vendor and the right time for conversion is of vital importance.
We’ve been working with microfilm, microfiche, and aperture cards since the late 1980’s. We’ve converted millions of pages to film, so we understand the value of storing important documents in physical format. However, we’ve also witnessed the incredible value of digitizing this information.
Until recently, digitization projects for archived records have been expensive and with too little value to show. If you’ve considered a large-scale microform conversion project in the past, then you know.
We’ve heard horror stories of projects taking years to complete and with terrible quality. And even if quality was achieved, efficient storage and retrieval of digitized microfilm adds another layer of cost and complexity.
To make practical sense, microfilm, and microfiche conversion must provide more than just making digital copies. Here are 3 reasons to digitize:
- Environmental factors put film at risk
- How digitization improves document quality
- Regulation and workflows demand deeper access to data
Lurking Dangers Threaten MicroFilm Lifespan
There are 3 film types; Silver-Halide, Diazo, and Vesicular. Each is susceptible to damage from a variety of factors which can be avoided.
Film still appears to be a viable option for long-term storage. However, risk of loss through environmental factors is limited only by strict adherence to stringent storage policies:
- Maintain offsite duplicate master copies
- Use only approved storage containers and metal furniture in the vicinity of film
- Monitored climate-controlled environment; temperature, humidity, lighting, and air quality
- Do not store different film types in the same container
Here are the things that happen to film when not stored properly:
Silver Oxidation – Causes blemishes due to silver corrosion on film when storage room temperatures exceed 70°F or when relative humidity exceeds 50%.
Scratches and mold – Dust is a major cause of mold and abrasions on microfilm, microfiche, and aperture cards.
Redox blemishes – reddish circular microspot damage caused by chemical airborne pollutants.
While all types can be treated to reduce vulnerabilities from damage, digitizing microfilm or fiche may be a more cost-effective approach in the long run. Are you fully committed to proper storage?
How Does Digitizing Microfilm and Microfiche Improves Document Images?
In most cases, the process of putting document images on film introduces artifacts that affect image quality. Dust particles, skewed images, scratches, and manual redactions make looking at microfilm and microfiche difficult. And if you need to perform optical character recognition (OCR) on these images, getting good accuracy is difficult.
New advances in scanning software take advantage of technology like computer vision and image processing to make scanned microform images look even better than the original. This makes highly accurate OCR and full-text searching possible. Here are some of the advantages of modern microfilm and microfiche scanning software:
- Scratch removal
- Warped image repair
- Restore damaged images
- Remove specs, blobs, and hole punches
- Cleanup borders
Electronic Access to Data from Microfilm and Microfiche
Perhaps the number one reason to digitize microfilm and microfiche is making the data readily available to other software applications. This is important for making archived records fully text-searchable and for integrating the data with databases and information management tools.
Digitizing records is also important for meeting government regulations, such as those declared by the National Archives Registration Administration (NARA), and for regulations that govern protected health and personal information.
Advances in scanning technology have unleashed a brand new way of digitizing microfilm and microfiche. Now, both the quality of digital images and the ability for very accurate OCR are many times better than previous solutions.
Better image quality and better OCR mean better data extraction. Electronic access to data contained in archived documents provides new sources of data for analytics, fast searching for discovering information, and gives the public fast access to secure data.
Today is a better time than ever for digitizing all types of microform. Advances in scanning and storage technology remove the high price tag and chaos associated with creating hundreds of thousands or millions of digital document images.