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Why Microfilm?

 
 
Why should we consider microfilm as a storage medium? What about digital imaging? Surely microfilm is an old technology that has passed its useful lifespan?

You mean like paper, which is over 2000 years old and yet we still use it?
Newspapers
 
Just because something has been around for a long time doesn't mean that we shouldn't use it, especially when the very fact that it is still being used today, after all of these years, points to a product that works consistently over time. Modern microfilm, as produced and stored by Heritage Microfilm will last for 500 years.

Microfilm is an analog technology so:
  • No matter how technology changes in the next 500 years you will always be able to scan microfilm into the very latest digital systems.
  • It allows space savings of up to 99%.
  • It is a cost effective way of insuring that your history is preserved and accessible.
 
Microfilm is legally admissible as evidence in court - it has actually been tested by case law. In many countries worldwide microfilm is specified as the legally admissible archival medium of choice along with paper. In America over 43 States now insist that mandatory public records with a life of more than 10 years must have at least one copy stored in an analog format i.e. paper or microfilm.

Microfilm is easily scanned to allow quick digital access to your microfilm records. Once scanned, the important document(s) remain in a microfilm format for long term preservation, but the information on the microfilm is released into the digital arena - as we do on our NewspaperArchive.com website, where you can search and view millions of pages of historic newspapers over the Internet.

Do you know how long the digital technology that you are using today will last? No, nobody does. Some manufacturers have quoted figures for CD-ROMs from 10 to 100 years, but nobody really knows because the media hasn't been around that long. Were you aware that ultra violet light can alter the optical properties of the polycarbonate plastic part of the disk, and that oxidization could impair the readability of the aluminum reflective layer? Also, 3½-inch disks can start to deteriorate in 18 months. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg, the real problem with digital technology is obsolescence. Long before the disk itself becomes unreadable, it is likely that the CD-ROM (as the current digital medium of choice) will be replaced by a new medium. Ten years from now, when the hardware you have has been discontinued for 5 years, how are you going to read the old CD-ROM? At the moment it looks as if DVD will be the next technology, but they are already working on the replacement for DVD. Does anyone remember 5½-inch disks, let alone even older 8-inch floppies? Those media are a scant 25 years old, yet they are now all virtually inaccessable. With microfilm, your records are safe, accessible, and very resistant to obsolescence.

When technologies change (as they have done and will continue to do) how easy will it be to migrate your old information to the new technology? If you have all your information on microfilm and technology changes you just scan the microfilm into whatever the new digital technology is - no migration, therefore no loss of information.

The long-term preservation and access problem will assume center stage of the information age in the first quarter of the 21st Century". Microfilm and the conversion of electronic information to microfilm is a solution.

The Library of Congress has stated that the future of microfilm is strong, and they still acquire millions of documents every year on microfilm.

So, in sum:

The reason you microfilm your historical records is to permanently archive them in a durable, easily accessible format that is an exact representation of your document, as it was originally produced.
 
 
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