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New Pearl Scan website Launch!
www.pearl-scan.co.uk


We are very excited to have finally launched our new website design after 6 months in development! Some of our goals for the development of the new website were to make it simpler, faster and more user friendly. Most of all, we wanted to help our clients find the information they need in a faster way.

As you probably notice things have been moved around a little bit and the information is looking pretty spiffy. If you take a look around the site; you will get a pretty good idea of the sections and information modules that we have developed: Scanning Services, Document Management, Data Capture, Industry Solutions, Blog, About Us and the very important Contact Us Section.

webpageThe upgrade process went through many stages and reviews. Preview to start the design we analyse all our existing data to organize all the services and section that were more relevant to our visitors.


The design process came next, keeping a unify image is really important for our brand and we were looking for a CMS that give us the flexibility and security to deliver our content. Part of the process also included the upgrade of our dedicated server for better speed and safety features. Part of the upgrade task was to review all the exiting pages and content; and upgrade that information and images to deliver fresh new information to our users.

We are really excited about the new design and we hope that you find it helpful, fast and simple. As always, if you have any questions or have any enquiries about our scanning services feel free to contact us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or fill our contact form.

We will appreciate your thoughts in the comment box below.

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Low to high volume Microfiche Scanning, Microfilm Scanning and Aperture Card Scanning


Our Budget Friendly production low to high volume, Microfilm, Microfiche and Aperture Cards Scanning offers a complete package of professional service and support to give you the best solution for your conversion project. 

microfiche-scanning

Our Scanning solution for low to high volume conversion of microfiche, aperture cards and roll microfilm offers time/money saving, valuable storage space, disaster recovery and ROI.
Our digitisation and scanning systems can handle all of the unique properties of your microfiche, roll film and aperture card including:

• Scanning of high reduction images from COM microfiche
• Title bar information
• Variable size documents stored on a microfiche or microfilm
• Variable position and annotated images [landscape and portrait]
• Multiple microfiche files
• Fully customisable indexing and cataloging to digital files
• Image optimisation, enhancement and de-skewing of images
• Multiple output formats such as TIFF, Jpeg, PDF, PDF Searchable and PDF/A

We can scan and digitise the following Microfilm & Microfiche Polarities

Positive, Negative and Mixed

We can scan and convert the following sizes of roll microfilm, cartridges and microfiche media

Microfilm: 16 and 35 mm film

Microfiche: Standard, Jumbo fiche, Mini Jackets, Aperture Cards

We can scan the following Roll Microfilm Formats

Simplex, Duplex, Duo, Blipped / Un-blipped, COM and Mixed formats and other industry standard formats

Microfiche and Aperture Cards Formats

Microfiche: Step and Repeat fiche, Film Jackets, AB Dick, Microx, COM and Aperture Cards.

Title bar scanning as well as Hollerith punch reading is available from fiche and aperture cards.

We can scan, digitise and convert your Microfilms, Microfiche or Aperture Cards to the following Digital Image file formats;

TIFF bitonal Group3/Group4, TIFF uncompressed, Multi-page TIFF, JPEG, CALS, PDF/A, Multi-page PDF, Single-page PDF, PDF Searchable, JPEG 2000, CAD (DWG and DXF), etc.

Read more about Microfiche, Microfilm and Aperute Scanning: here...

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Follow Pearl Scan Solutions in our social media channels. Our experts will keep you up to date with information about Document Scanning, Book Scanning, Document Management, Data Capture, Microfiche Scanning and many Digital Scanning Solutions.

Pearl Scan Solutions UK is a Document Scanning Company specialize in Digital Document Scan. We provide service in London, Manchester, Birmingham and the rest of the UK. We have more than 10 years providing scanning solutions for Doctors and GPS in the NHS, Solicitors, Schools and Universities and many other industries and sectors.

Visit our corporate site for more information: http://www.pearl-scan.co.uk/

And don’t forget to follow us.

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Pearl Scan Solutions Director Naveed Ashraf talks about OCR. How does it work? What types of documents can be OCR and the benefits of document scanning and OCR conversion.

Convert your paper documents to fully editable electronic files using our OCR Solutions and Conversion

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is the process of converting paper documents into full editable electronic files such as Microsoft Word files, Excel spreadsheets, XML, CSV, HTML, PDF searchable, databases etc. The process begins by scanning the hard-copy material (eg. books, novels, newspapers, documents, magazines, journals, directories etc.) to produce high-resolution images such as TIFF, PDF, JPEG etc., before converting the image to a machine-readable and editable format.

Read more about OCR conversion: http://www.pearl-scan.co.uk/document-conversion/OCR-conversion.php

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microfiche-scanner-viewer

In a previous post, we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of getting your very own microfiche machine. So you might now be wondering if it's plausible to get your own microfiche scanner.

After all a microfiche scanner is more flexible, is more lightweight and provides you with a more flexible output which can be saved, stored, edited and shared.

While microfiche scanners are the best way to output your microfiche to a digital format, they are not always the most cost-effective and there might be a better way which is what we're talking about in today's post.

What does a microfiche scanner do?

The microfiche scanner is made to extract the content of microfiche and convert it into a digital format, usually PDF or JPG. It's not always about what a microfiche scanner does but more what you can do with the results. In comparison with a run-of-the-mill microfiche viewer, you can output files in comparison to just look at them which allows for greater flexibility in how you can work with them.

microfiche-scanning-conversion

Microfiche scanners are
useful but expensive solutions

Should You Buy a Microfiche Scanner?

Microfiche scanners, while providing excellent solutions are sometimes simply not worth it if you have a low quantity of microfiche. Microfiche scanners are very highly priced at nearly £6,000 ($10,000) and that's for a fairly middle-of-the-road example. You also need to consider that with a microfiche scanner you need to take the time and patience to learn how to use it. Like the microfiche you're hoping to convert, they aren't the easiest of media to work with and even having learnt how to use one it still takes a considerable amount of time to manually scan and index each image correctly.

So what would be a better solution than an actual microfiche scanner?

More often not in your local town or city you'll find a number of companies that are already established as providers of microfiche conversion and already have a number of microfiche scanners in operation. This might seem like a solution that you may not want to follow but they also tend to charge less than you might think. From our researches prices tend to start from around 4p per image here in the UK so you might be surprised at how much you can save in comparison with purchasing an actual microfiche scanner.

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microfilm-life-span

 

The above chart shows the supposed lifespan of microfilm and microfiche in comparison with other modern storage solutions. We mentioned in our recent post about microfiche how one of the few advantages of microfiche today is its expected lifespan.

This doesn't change the fact that microfiche and microfilm has become an obsolete format, on the contrary, people and businesses are flocking to have them converted into digital formats, but this does show the one remaining redeeming feature of a bygone storage format.

Interested in getting your microfiche or microfilm digitised? Let us know.

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If like many, you find yourself with a huge stock of microfiche with nowhere to go, there are only really a few options to be able to view them and beyond. One of those options is to purchase a microfiche reader.

Whilst there are other options out there this is normally the first option that comes to mind for most people and start searching for a device that they don't know a great deal about and, more often not, the specs of a microfiche reader can be complex at best; they are simply not made for the amateur.

But for the sake of this review we're going to be reviewing one of the budget models that does what it says on the tin in allowing you to view your microfiche. The device is the Eye Com 1000 Reader which typical sells for around £300-500. This is one of the lower end readers and one that, if desired, most could afford. It would seem pointless to review one of the larger devices such as the Microvue XL16 O S which comes in at around £2000 as those are strictly for those who have experience with the devices.

So the Eye Com 1000 Reader comes in at a relatively compact 14″ high and 13″ wide which makes it nicely compact compared to its forefathers and it also comes with a generous 9″ screen which is decent enough for the price to be able to see the contents of the microfiche. It's not huge but perhaps it's just what the majority of people need. It also comes in at weighing around 10lbs so it's also relatively easy to move around too if required. It also offers excellent magnification of up to 75% of the original size of COM (computer output microfiche) and standard fiche, which is quite impressive for its size and dimensions.

Overall the Eye Com 1000 Reader is ideal if all you need to do is view your microfiche but it has the same problems that all microfiche readers do; it is extremely limited.

microfiche-reader-267x300

Quality of reading is fine,
but not flexible enough

Microfiche Reader Alternatives

Compared to modern and more flexible options such as microfiche scanning by outsourcing, they only allow you to view the contents of the microfiche. Equivalents such as microfiche scanning allow you to view the microfiche from the comfort of your own computer with any size screen that you wish and allows you to do almost anything that you could with any other type of digital document; print, share online, email and even edit them and in some cases if the contents of the microfiche has text you can have them converted with OCR so that the text is searchable on your computer if you so wish, which is particularly handy if you're going to be searching for particular references and names (the quality of this can entirely depend on the quality of the microfiche, so keep this in mind).

And of course the price of the service compared to the reader is also a major sticking point but with companies offering microfiche conversion from as little as 70p per sleeve and 3p per image, for relatively small quantities of microfiche in the low to mid thousands of images, then price-wise scanning still blows the reader out of the water.

Right now the world of microfiche viewing is at a transition period; the machines are less desirable so their prices go up because they have become niche products whilst superior services prices drop due to improving technology in their area, ironic as it's changing technology that has killed the microfiche in the first place.

If you simply want to view microfiche, then a budget viewer like the Eye Com 1000 might be the right way to go for you, but when you could get so much more from the images on the microfiche, why would you?

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More often than not we are approached by people who have microfiche but have almost no idea what to do with them.

Microfiche scanning is not always the first thought when it comes to being able to get access to the fiche in a modern and plausible way. Those that have some idea of what to do with these icons of time gone by search for microfiche readers which as an earlier post discussed are expensive and quite limited solutions.

Logan-City-Council-microfiche-scanning

Sweep in Logan City Council
Local Studies room with the microfiche
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But the main question now is whether or not microfiche scanning is the best solution to be able to access your files that are on fiche.

You might say we are somewhat biased as a company that features microfiche conversion as one of its main services, but the fact is that if there were a better way and one that was overall a better way to access the fiche we would offer that as a service. The simple fact is that there are realistically only the two options we've already talked about; buying a microfiche viewer or having the microfiche converted by a professional company.

As we talked about in a previous post, microfiche readers are remarkably limited even today. They will literally only offer you the opportunity to view the microfiche and some of the more expensive ones will potentially allow you to print the images too, but that's the extent of them at the best of times and they come at a high price being such a niche item these days.

Microfiche scanning offers you the opportunity to totally modernise your microfiche images. We're not just talking about printing them; that is one of the options, but because you get digital copies of the images you can do virtually anything you want with them and certainly anything you could do with any other digital file. You can modify them, add notes, email, print and share with others as well as post them online if you wish.

Microfiche scanning is also a remarkably cheap way to be able to gain this type of flexibility.

If you're interested in getting your microfiche converted digitally, request a free quote.

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PDF red

Converting microfiche to PDF can be a tricky business especially as a PDF is a modern small-scale storage method for documents while microfiche is technically it's grandfather; imagine trying to teach your grandfather how to use a computer and that's the kind of compatibility that we're looking at.

Converting microfiche to PDF by using a commercial scanner with negative scanning add ons sadly will not work as those add-ons are made to fit with negatives whilst microfiche, whether 16mm or 35mm are completely the wrong shape and are too small.

Because microfiche have these days become something of a niche item, it's become increasingly hard to find anything that works well with them including readers and viewers, let alone printers.

The only really acceptable way to convert a microfiche to PDF is by using a company that can do it for you (like Pearl Scan's microfiche scanning). This is usually a lot quicker and considerably cheaper than trying to solve the problem for yourself. Most of these companies offer this service relatively cheaply from pennies per image. However when converting your microfiche into PDF you should keep in mind that the output is only as good as the content of the fiche itself. Although microfiche are incredibly resilient and are even to this day fantastic ways of storing documents especially with a rumoured 500 year life putting them head and shoulders above any other form of storage media, they are often not put together very well or the initial import of images onto the fiche was poorly done. This can't be helped by the company that convert to PDF but it is said that having digitised versions of the files contained on microfiche does make them clearer in comparison to looking at them using a microfiche viewer.

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It might surprise you to think that microfiche and microfilm are still used as a storage solution when there are better, more convenient and ‘smaller’ solutions available. But now common is this storage practice even in the 2000′s? Well more common than you might think. Despite computer hard drives being an excellent way to store documents and files cheaply and securely, microfiche are still a very convenient way to storing files.

Why do people still store on microfiche and microfilm?

There could be any number of reasons for this depending on the individual. It can be as simple as that they have always done it this way and they don’t want to change that as they may have a considerable backlog of microfiche or microfilm and if they were to go a more digital route, they would potentially have to convert all the other microfiche they have (which isn’t that expensive typically, but most think it would be). There is also a conception that microfiche have a lifespan of over 100 years when compared to that of CDs and DVDs which have an approximate lifespan of around 10 years, which is a considerable difference.

Many are traditionalists who prefer to do it the old way much like that of film photography over digital but like film photography, there are less and less suppliers that can offer the service.

2e1ax vintage entry FileAperture card

A backlit aperture card showing hollerith holes and 
the microform image (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Microfiche and Microfilm; a dying breed

Whilst microfiche were once the leading way to store files they have been eclipsed first by the advent of floppy discs (remember those?), then CDs, DVDs and external and internal hard drives where files are literally invisible and not just minified like a microfiche or microfilm would do.

Microfiche are simply no longer a plausible output for the majority of people. With digital formats offering more flexibility than merely viewing the files as you would do on a microfiche reader. Essentially when a microfiche is made digital, the files are exported as PDFs and you can do pretty much anything you would do with any other type of PDF. The content of them can even be made searchable if required and plausible.

The Future of Microfiche and Microfilm

…It’s ironic, but whilst they were once the very best way of storing documents in a compact way, they now simply take too much room…

To be blunt, microfiche doesn’t really have any kind of a future, much as it hasn’t for a good 20 years or so now. There are still millions out there that contain important information, but for the most part they end up being converted to digital formats and discarded. It’s ironic, but whilst they were once the very best way of storing documents in a compact way, they now simply take too much room.

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Even now when technology is at its most complex and yet most simple and most accessible, individuals and organisation still choose to use microfilming as a way of storing their data. But why is this?

microfilming-old

The Microfilming Process
Hasn't Changed A Great
Deal Since The 1970s

Microfilming is to put documents and other images on to a microfilm, much as you would have when taking pictures on an analogue camera years ago before the advent of digital cameras. But when digital cameras became the norm, analogue cameras for the most part became something of an extinct species which is the same mostly with microfilms and microfiche, but every once in a while this is still a choice when it comes to storing documents in a smaller space.

This is mainly because, though the legal admissibility of scanned documents is better than it once was, people still prefer to have hard copies of their documents and microfiche, microfilm and negatives in general are still the smallest way to store hard-copy versions of documents without taking all the room of files and paper themselves. This is of course mainly down to personal preference and is more often than not a mind-set because digital documents are now just as acceptable as physical ones but not a lot people know this.

Microfilming is still a process that is done with relative ease but it has also become something of a niche service and therefore costings tend to be quite high, especially as it is ultimately a more complex process than actually converting documents to digital files such as PDFs. Converting digitally also makes them more flexible than they are on a microfilm and if microfilms are are viewed, a microfilm reader is also more often than not required and this can become quite expensive.

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If you're amongst the thousands of individuals or, more likely, organisations that find themselves with hundreds or thousands of microfiche but have nothing to use them with, the first thing that probably comes to your mind is to find out more about a microfiche machine, a machine that offers you the chance to view the microfiche, not dissimilar to those you see in large libraries. But is it really necessary?

The Microfiche Machine

microfiche-machine

A typical microfiche machine

Microfiche machines, or microfiche readers / microfiche viewers as they are more commonly known, used to be very easy to get hold of since, at the time, microfiche were amongst the most popular ways of storing a significant amount of files in a small area. As we've mentioned in previous posts about the history of the microfiche, microfiche were in effect the external hard drives of their day, allowing you to store away hundreds of files and documents without having to use the space that they would take in their full physical form.

However as time and innovation rolls on as frantically as it has over the last 100 years, microfiche were replaced over a short period of time as people started to rely on computers more and use the links of floppy disks, then CDs, then flash memory etc. This obviously left the microfiche market, such as it was, in ruins and microfiche machines were all but stopped being made with the exception of a few select companies that still make them to this day as niche items. As with most specialist niches, there isn't a huge deal of demand so the cost of the microfiche reader rises. Microfiche machines now sell for anything between £3,000-10,000, which is an astonishing amount of money for a machine of its type and, to pour salt into the wounds, most readers are simply limited to just viewing images unlike modern counterparts like computer systems which allow you to view, edit, print and email images and documents with ease.

microfiche-scanner

Microfiche Machine vs Microfiche Scanning

These days, a lot of document scanning companies tend to offer microfiche scanning on top of regular document conversion. These companies normally have a number of microfiche scanners which can take the negative image and convert it into a digital one which is then exported as PDF. JPEG, TIFF or any other fairly popular image / document formats. On top of this after the scanning is completed, if the microfiche consist of documents, the documents can be put through OCR. OCR, or optical character recognition makes your flat documents into a fully text-searchable file which makes it very useful for searching for particular references or names.

Once a microfiche image is made digital, the rest is pretty much history since a standard microfiche machine simply cannot keep up with what is offered such as the ability to view the images with better clarity, the previously mentioned OCR, sharing the documents, emailing them, printing them and basically doing anything with them that you can do with any type of document you use on a computer.

The costs of a microfiche machine compared to scanning

On top of all this, you don't have to pay for a rather large piece of equipment that is, essentially, already obsolete. As mentioned before they can upwards of £10,000 for a very good one and £3,000 for a relatively basic one.

Talking of costs, microfiche scanning is relatively cheap to make things a little better. Microfiche are typically scanned here in the UK for between 10p to £1 per image from our research, but the £1 is a high end price. So you can see that it simply makes sense to go with microfiche scanning above a machine.

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microfiche-printing

These days the content of microfiche and microfilm is hard to access and you often find that you need a microfiche reader just to view them with little else you can do. On top of that microfiche readers are very expensive as we mention in our post on microfiche machines.

When it comes to printing there is once again quite a limited range of services on offer that allow for microfiche printing and duplication. There aren't any companies as such that purely offer microfiche printing as a service as it can be quite an expensive process with little return, however the next best thing is a little bit of DIY.

Microfiche scanning is the next best thing as it allows you to get digital copies of the images on your microfiche which can then be printed either by yourself or by sending the images to a professional printing company. This would probably also work out considerably cheaper than any company that would offer printing of microfiche as a one off job as microfiche scanning is very cost effective, usually at around 6-20p per image (we offer the lower end price).

When the digital image comes to you it can be edited in any way that you would normally edit or work with a standard PDF or JPEG image which makes them super easy to print and share with others. Brilliant.

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A lot of people today don't know what microfiche is let alone with type of microfiche they have, so here's a short guide and graphic illustration to get you started.

What Type of Microfiche Do I Have?


types-of-microfiche

16mm microfiche generally hold A4 images. 

35mm microfiche usually hold A3-A0 images.

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what-size-microfiche

Often when we are asked to convert microfiche to digital formats like PDF and TIFF, the people having them converted don't know the size of the documents contained on the microfiche themselves. So here's a short guide to what size images are stored on microfiche.

What size are the images stored on microfiche?

This can depend on the type of microfiche that you have. There are most commonly two sizes; 16mm and 35mm.

Obviously the larger the fiche is the larger the images are that will go onto it. 16mm microfiche almost always contain A4 documents or documents of a similar size or sometimes 2 A5 documents go on there to save the amount of film negatives being used.

35mm contain anything from size A3 up to A0+ depending on how much the ratio of it is reduced when transposing it onto the negative. 35mm microfiche were usually used by the likes of architects and anyone else that works with large format images.

How do I know what type of microfiche I have?

It really is as simple as measuring them. If they measure 16mm (1.6cm) or 35mm (3.5cm) then that's what they are. Much more rarely you'll find some microfiche sleeves that contain both 16mm and 35mm negatives. These are known as Combi fiche. All the different types of microfiche can be seen here.

If you'd like to know more about getting
your microfiche or microfilm digitised, contact us.

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Let's start our blog with a first post which answers the question; what are microfiche?

If you're wanting the quick answer, we'll explain it a little below but there is a lot more to microfiche than meets the eye. Microfiche have been around for almost one hundred years, since Paul Otlet and Robert Goldschmidt proposed the livre microphotographique as a way to alleviate the cost and space limitations imposed by the codex format in 1906. A lot of people believe that microfiche were invented a lot more recently than this, say in the 1950s or 1960s. However they were only commercially used in a larger capacity in around the 1920s. Shortly thereafter the rights were bought by a familiar name, the Eastman Kodak Company. So you could say that they have a lot of history.

So in short...what are microfiche?


what-are-microfiche-300x177Microfiche come in a number of sizes and type ranging from 16mm slides up to 35mm slides and a range of different sleeve / container sizes. For an in depth look at all the different microfiche / microfilm types on the market, take a look here.what are microficheTo explain about microfiche in short, microfiche are shrunken pages of information which have been put onto a film. When companies had a lot of documents or a lot of files but didn't really have the space or wanted to save a lot more space in and around their offices. In effect microfiche were the external hard drives of those days, a way to save larger files in a small place in order to save space. At the time it would've been truly revolutionary and as it turns out we were thinking about saving space long before the advent of the 21st century, although not as obsessively as we do today.

Microfiche and their document types

A4 size documents were usually stored on 16mm microfiche negatives and in some cases A3, but anything about that such as architects drawings, plans or blueprints would go onto 35mm microfiche. Although 16mm microfiche were amongst the most popular, the 35mm were always the most useful due to the colossal size of architects drawings etc. and the sheer amount of space that would be saved.

Technically microfiche was the digitisation of their day and were very sought after for a long time. With the advent of smaller and better solutions in the last 30 years and the rise of digitally produced documents, microfiche were simply outclassed. Today when the contents are required the user must either use an increasingly rare microfiche reader which can be bought expensively due to their now niche appeal or they can still be found in some large libraries. However, due to the cost of microfiche readers and the sheer quantity of microfiche that need to be looked through sometimes, they are more often than not digitised and disposed of through companies that offer microfiche scanning as a service. We talk about how microfiche conversion is better than a microfiche reader here.

So what are the advantages of microfiche, even today?

Microfiche do still have one appeal that isn't offered by their successors such as the CD, DVD and external hard-drives; their life spans. It is reckoned that microfiche will be effective for upward of 500 years, whereas CDs and DVDs are supposedly only supposed to have a lifespan of around 10. So they do still have their uses, although they have become considerably more inconvenient over time.

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Below is a video we discovered recently which shows the process of how the State Library of South Australia archives their newspapers via microfilming. Take a look:

The library itself clearly puts a lot of time and effort into the process and it's nice to see the methods in which they do this. However it does raise a number of questions and a number of points as to why this isn't necessarily the best way to go about archiving newspapers and other historically important documentation. Whilst microfilm was once a brilliant and forward-thinking method of archiving documents and important records, they have been surpassed in many ways, all of which we will look at in the below sections, also looking at the positive aspects of microfilming.

shelf-life

Shelf life

As this video so rightly puts the shelf life of microfilm is around 500 years. This is confirmed by many sources including in this interesting article by e-conservation magazine, which explores the use of microfilm in libraries. However another valid point about this shelf life is that they must be correctly and consistently stored in acid-free boxes and in a room that is at the right temperature and an environment that doesn't change. Whilst we're sure that an organisation such as the State Library of South Australia will follow this as carefully as their microfilming process itself, there will be many that don't and this will cut the shelf life significantly.

 

Why digital is better...

Whilst it would still be better than that of paper which is supposedly around 100 years, again if kept and stored correctly, we have seen many microfilms that have been sent to us in poor condition almost entirely based on the fact that they haven't been stored well. But this is also precisely why going digital is a better answer these days than the rather obsolete method of microfilming.

Digital images such as JPEG, TIFF and PDF can last for as long as are needed, infinity if they're kept in the right places and backed up and that's a shelf life that can't be topped by microfim or anything else.

 

clockTime Taken

Although the above video may show an exceptional organisation, this has been a process that so far has been in operation since the 1960′s, over 50 years. But it's not just about how long it has taken, but also everything else that is involved with that; the need to update technology and equipment over the years. There are at least ten members of staff shown in the above video on this entire process which in comparison to what is available these days is elongated and procrastinating. On top of this, the frame-by-frame inspection is a huge consumer of time.

Why digital is better...

For this entire process, which takes the time of at least ten members of staff, two or three members of staff would do all the work at a professional document / microfilm scanning company.

To go beyond the initial creation of the microfilms themselves, the time taken in searching them and finding what is required with digital would simply wipe the floor with any microfilm reader that patrons of the library or organisation would and would be far less demanding and intimidating. We are used to computers and would always head for a desktop or laptop and not a bulky microfilm reader. Plus with OCR technology being constantly perfected, newspapers can be made fully text-searchable these days after the scanning of the newspapers to digital images is done. This will save patrons a lot of time searching through microfilms for particular references and would need less help from members of staff in the library itself.


Whilst microfilms themselves were made to cut space, and were brilliant at it for a long time, nothing can beat a digital file with no physical preference. To top off the general upkeep required of the microfilm, as well as the ideal storage locations and care, a microfilm collection spanning this many newspapers will take a huge amount of room.

space

Space

Why digital is better...

Digital documents don't exist in the physical sense, therefore they take no room other than space on a computer hard-drive. However documents and newspapers can be stored on a central server where all computers in the library can reach all records at any time from one place, or images can also be stored online offering the ability to search beyond patrons who come to the library itself.


As previously mentioned, over the years the equipment in the above example will have been replaced several times and now that microfilming and the area of microfilm is becoming obsolete, parts are harder to find, are costly and new machines prices rise due to a lack of demand. To top this off microfilming machines tend to be sensitive items which are hard to keep up, even modern examples such as the Zeutschel OK301 mentioned in the above video (albeit not that modern). The Kodak MRD also mentioned as 'old technology' still retails today for at least $5000.

ok301

Equipment

Why digital is better...

To digitise the library would be a one-off cost, and a pretty reasonable one, prices in the UK varying from 10p to 60p per page for the entire digitisation process, no further obscure and obsolete machinery or parts required in the future. With digital images the files will also be easier to use and more flexible, allowing them to be copied with greater ease, printed, saved, emailed and anything else you can do with a digital document.

Another argument: Why microfilming is better...

It might look like we have a big problem with microfilming and that it should be replaced immediately. We don't, we simply believe there is a better way in almost every conceivable fashion. However it is understandable as to why organisations such as the State Library of South Australia would continue to use a system like this, the main one being consistency. When the process was started in the 1960s digital documents didn't exist, in fact the first scanned image only happened in 1957, but wasn't mainstream until the 1990s. Although the opportunity to archive in a more modern way has probably shown itself, consistency was probably quite a large factor when making a decision; why have a room of microfilms and then have the rest of the images digitally? It was possibly also a matter of already having systems, staff and equipment in place to not change things too much.

On the above video's comments section the library themself say that they don't have the resources to archive digitally, however to reposition the staff used for this process would be more than enough to go about digitising and library and another option is to buy scanning equipment the next time a funding review is due.

Perhaps we are biased in our views since, as a business, we digitise documents and microfilms but it's hard to argue with the fact that they offer ease of use, better value and an overall sense of modern progress in a world that is becoming increasingly digital.

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Often we are asked by clients if it is possible to OCR microfiche images. It is believed in a lot of cases that due to the shrinking and reproduction of the images that the images cannot then have the text extracted enabling them to be edited and copied from.

So is it possible to OCR microfiche images?

microfilm-microfiche-ocr

Like any other type of document, once the
image is extracted it can be OCRd

The short answer is yes, microfiche images can be OCRd. The longer answer is that it can depend on the quality of the original documents which have been filmed on to the microfiche, the quality of the filming itself and the condition of the microfiche which can depend on if they have been correctly stored and looked after. Once any microfiche scanning company has scanned and extracted the images at their original size and resolution, it's all down to the quality of that image to define whether OCR can be completed successfully.

Even with poorly filmed images some OCR might be possible but may not be highly accurate. The best way to put it is that it is possible to OCR your microfiche images but the quality can differ depending on how it was originally filmed, the condition of the original documents and the condition of the film itself.

How do I test the OCR capabilities of my microfiche images?

The best way to test the water is to send a few examples off to a microfiche scanning company who's willing to offer a free sample and who will offer advice on the quality of the output which you'll also be able to see yourself.

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