It’s both! Use digital and microfilm!
“Is it microfilm to digital or digital to microfilm?” This is a question we are often asked. For quick access to information, documents that are recorded on microfilm can be converted to digital formats such as tiff or PDF then integrated with other digital documents and managed using a digital-based document management system. Nothing beats the speed or convenience of accessing documents over digital networks. However, if the document is a vital record that needs to be maintained for decades or even centuries, microfilm is the most cost effective way to not only store the document but to assure availability long into the future.
Microfilm to Digital
For documents in which quick and/or frequent near-term access is advantageous, conversion from microfilm to digital formats by scanning and indexing with metadata is an excellent solution. Microfilm documents can be converted to digital documents at costs slightly higher than making a paper copy. To convert documents yourself, you can acquire microfilm scanners such as the Wicks and Wilson C-400 aperture card scanner and image processing software such as Tameran’s Image Prep to assure quality images are captured and indexed for digital document distribution. Or, you can outsource the conversion from roll microfilm, aperture cards or microfiche using services of companies like Tameran that have the equipment, software and expertise to provide a turnkey solution.
Digital to Microfilm
Likewise, there are significant advantages to converting digital documents to microfilm in terms of cost and long-term security especially when there is a need to be archived over a long period of time or when access is infrequent. Cost is lower because documents do not need to be constantly migrated through time to preserve formats and prevent data loss. Once recorded on microfilm, document integrity does not change and all that is needed to view the image is light and magnification. The cost of recording digital documents onto film is similar to making a paper copy. You can utilize Tameran’s Image Prep and Roll Film Composer software to prepare documents to be recorded on microfilm at Tameran’s Archive Microfilm Recording Center or you can outsource the entire process to companies like Tameran that have the process, software and recording equipment to provide a turnkey solution.
Documents recorded on microfilm can always be converted back to digital formats using scanners and made available using current digital systems and networks. The document life cycle can be continued even if a digital system is corrupted, incurs data loss or can not be migrated to a more current media.
The best solutions are those that are appropriate for the need. In many cases, especially where records are vital as a historic or legal record or essential for the ongoing life of a product or process, both microfilm to digital and digital to microfilm are the answer. Consider your current document distribution and long term storage needs and use both systems to your advantage.