Rejecting the Microfilm Fiction
For decades, microfilm was used as an easy way to store and distribute documents within an organization or to multiple supplies and vendors. It was also used as a controlled source for preservation. Today there are many misunderstandings about microfilm and its role in our digital world. Tameran has compiled a list of nine common misconceptions about microfilm and presents information to dispel these current fallacies.
1. Microfilm is not being used any more.
Not true. Microfilm may not be used as much as a means for distributing documents, but microfilm is still viewed as the most reliable source for storing and preserving critical and historical documents. Technical documents and records that are vital to current and future infrastructure for government, utility and manufacturing organizations must have guaranteed access to their information now and in the future. Microfilm is an important disaster preparedness tool to be used by any organization whose livelihood could be halted by a lack of information and documentation.
2. Microfilm is too expensive for storing documents.
Microfilming documents costs about the same as printing documents to paper. Whether you are beginning a small conversion project or integrating an entire library of documents into your document workflow, there are options available to make it easy and affordable.
3. Microfilm is old technology.
Yes microfilm technology has been in use for many years, but it has also been an evolving technology. Today’s digitally generated microfilm recorded on high-quality, 500-year life media produces outstanding results. Organizations using older, planetary cameras are not accessing the most current and advanced digital microfilm production technology. Documents, especially engineering, technical documents and historical paper and digital records that may be difficult to read can even be enhanced and clarified through the digital to microfilm process. Before choosing a microfilm provider, do your homework. Make sure to find out how your microfilm will be created and processed.
4. It’s difficult to find microfilm providers.
There are many organizations supporting microfilm for storage and preservation and providing microfilming services across the United States and around the world. Tameran Graphic Systems is one service provider whose expertise in microfilm products and services spans 40 years. Tameran understands the importance of properly produced and processed 35mm high resolution microfilm.
5. You can’t access microfilm easily.
Microforms such as 16mm microfilm, 35mm microfilm, aperture cards and microfiche all can be easily accessed with viewers and digitally converted in seconds with scanners for viewing, e-mailing and printing. Microfilm is also eye-readable with light and simple magnification, and unlike digital data, which is fragile, microfilm is unalterable.
6. The cloud is just as secure.
Can you really believe this? Compared to microfilm’s history as a sound storage and archive method, storage in the “cloud” is a baby in the world of preservation. There is already plenty of evidence pointing to the security risks of digital storage.
7. Digital is better and cheaper.
Digital may be faster for every-day access, but for preservation it poses many potential problems. Microfilm is an economical and efficient method for storing documents that are vital to the operation and longevity of a product or service. Digital documents are subject to data loss, trouble with data migration, data security issues and high costs incurred with technology changes; problems that could be insurmountable and cause disturbances in business or governmental function.
8. Paper is just as easy to store and keep for many years.
Over time, ordinary paper becomes yellow, fades, is brittle and can disintegrate. Archival Microfilm can last for more than 500 years. Microfilm requires a small fraction of the amount of storage space compared to paper documents and, just like paper, can be read by human eye without requiring digital equipment or software which by its nature will probably be obsolete in a few years.
9. I only need to store my information and images on one source.
As the saying goes, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. Risk managers would advise taking a good look at where and how vital documents are stored and making sure to have a back-up so interruption to business processes or services are limited. Whether the original source is paper or digital images, microfilm is the tried and true source for critical record management and preservation.
If you handle, control, distribute or archive documents, it is prudent to investigate the proper products and services for maintaining the life of your critical information. Tameran believes in managing documents with a hybrid approach: digital archiving for every-day access and microfilm for preservation. This gives you the best of both worlds—instant access to your files and a secure, long-term archive. Contact Tameran to discuss microfilm and your preservation and disaster management strategy. We are ready to help you choose a plan that stands the test of time.