Organizing the History of the World

Why do libraries exist? At the most basic level, libraries exist to collect and disseminate books, records and information (for free or as close to free as possible) to as many people as possible. In the past, to access this data, patrons had to go to the library during business hours. Once there, they were expected to search out the information they were looking for, gather what they needed then and there, or check out what they needed and bring it back within a specified period. All this occurred with or without the assistance of library staff.

Creating this shared repository of knowledge isn’t just about bringing books and information developed outside the area to the local level. Community libraries, in particular, have an obligation to collect the cumulative knowledge and heritage of the areas they serve.

This includes records management for preserving local artifacts such as:

  • historical newspapers

  • genealogical research

  • old directories

  • personal papers and correspondence

  • historic photos

  • diaries and journals

For the most part, libraries have relied on microfilm and microfiche to preserve historic records. Microfilm is generally accepted as an authentic record of history and has many advantages, particularly for long-term storage and preservation. However, in its original form, retrieving useful information from microfilm is often inefficient and time consuming.

Today, many people understand that what previously required a trip to the library and hours of searching can now be accomplished in minutes rather than hours with digital records. Patrons balk at inefficient searches or at having to spend hours on a microfilm reader pouring over old records to find the one bit of data they need. Nor are they willing to wait for someone else to find the data for them.

Document Preservation Through Converting Microfilm to Digital

Creating digital library archives by digitizing newspapers, converting microfilm to digital, providing complete eBook collections available for download – all of these services and more are the new normal for libraries. Libraries, academic institutions and government agencies must determine how they can integrate their current records with historical records that go back decades and longer.

Often the solution includes scanning paper records to digital or, in the case of microfilm and microfiche documents, converting the microfilm to digital and then creating searchable databases with that information. Before you rush out to purchase an industrial strength microfilm scanner to digitize your documents, you need to think about how to organize all that data so that users can easily find what they want. Where do you begin re-imagining how a vast array of data should be recorded, retained and retrieved?

At Advantage Companies, we specialize in converting paper and microfilm records to a digital format and helping organizations integrate this new format into their current offerings. If you are interested in converting your records to microfilm, we would be happy to talk to you about our process. If you would like a sample of our quality work, we are always happy to scan one roll of 35mm microfilm for FREE and turn it into a searchable website for your review.