We have had many recent conversations with librarians, newspaper publishers and state entities who are deeply concerned with their current microfilm preservation companies. Between receiving terrible quality microfilm with a clear lack of adherence to national standards and often receiving their subscriptions months (we’ve heard, in some extreme cases, as much as a year) after the newspaper is published, they are worried about trusting these companies with their preservation budgets, about providing good and current resources to their patrons, and ultimately about the preservation of their town’s history.
As it is your responsibility to preserve your local history and provide timely research materials to your patrons, we understand your plight.
It is our position that we have a responsibility to provide you, the subscriber, with high-quality and long-lasting microfilm. We also have the responsibility of creating and storing the master microfilm with the highest standards possible, in order to ensure a true 500-year life span for the history of the newspaper. Shortcuts are unacceptable.
We have taken this opportunity to briefly outline some questions that you should ask of your preservation vendor (and from your newspaper’s publisher, as they ultimately choose a vendor).
1) How is the master microfilm being stored?
This is extremely important – silver-halide master microfilm is tested to last 500 years, but only if it is stored properly, in a humidity-and-temperature controlled environment. Copies for libraries are made from this master microfilm, and will inherit any issues with clarity and readability.
2) What is the average turnaround for your microfilm to be delivered?
A reel of microfilm should be able to be filmed, processed, duplicated and shipped within a month of the last issue’s publication, barring any issues.
3) How is the quality of your microfilm?
The permanent physical record of a newspaper (and often of the history of your town) requires care and precision. Does your vendor strictly adhere to ANSI and AIIM standards? Is the film stock used the one you contracted for? Do you currently audit the density, reduction ratios, and clarity of your film? Do you have a clear understanding of the vendor’s quality control process? Do you understand where, and under what conditions your film is being created?
4) Does your vendor understand the needs of your library and community?
Are you receiving all of the newspaper titles that you need to offer your patrons the best research experience? Does your account manager have knowledge of best practices for storing and viewing your film? Does your vendor understand the value of digital records, and know when microfilm is a better option than digital, and vice-versa?
5) Can your vendor help on other projects?
Can your microfilm vendor assist in preserving documents for you directly? Will they help build a preservation program to aid in saving old documents, genealogy books and charts, and more? Do they have the knowledge to help build a digital repository?
If you do not feel your current provider can, or is willing to answer the questions above, we would like you to know that there is an alternative. We built Advantage Preservation specifically to address the deficiencies in the industry. We came together from different areas in the preservation and newspaper publishing communities because we are not happy with how publishers and libraries are being treated.
We have designed a preservation solution with clear and open answers to all the above questions, as well as a dedication to quality and a focus on marketing your history. Our program is designed to care for newspaper publishers and libraries equally. If you are interested in what we can offer you, I’ve included a sheet with some of the key differences between us and many of our competitors.
If you are interested in helping convince your newspaper’s publisher to change their vendor to a more responsible alternative, we can provide a form letter which can be altered and sent – a letter from a concerned library director will often bring issues with a vendor to a publisher’s attention quickly.
If you have any questions about your current microfilm or our services, you are welcome to call me personally. I also encourage you to visit our website at http://www.advantage-companies.com/preservation/markets/libraries-histor… to learn more about us.
And – remember to contact your current vendor to make sure they are taking care of your history.