This is the digital era advancing at a breathless speed. Most businesses need to adapt to the changing requirements and bring the necessary advancements into their functioning. In their effort to be at the winning edge, they must have access to superior technology as well as easy access to business data. Archived data is also very important and this must be protected in the best way possible. In most organizations data is stored in microfilms and microfiche and this has to be protected from potential damage. Poor storage can cause deterioration of microfilms and loss of valuable data. Microfilm bulk scanning service provided by a document conversion company is the best way to safeguard your precious microfilm assets. When choosing an outsourcing partner, consider three important factors – accuracy of scanning, digital image quality and pricing.
Many organizations have also started investing in good digital microfilm readers/printers/scanners that allow users to create high-resolution images from microfilm and store them in an external storage device in the required electronic format – TIFF, JPEG, searchable PDF and so on. Advanced scanners such as those document conversion companies use have exciting features such as automatic film scanning, optical rotation, auto scan positioning, automatic focusing, spot editing and the ability to clip articles in various shapes. These scanners are especially useful in libraries, historical societies, educational institutions and various research settings.
Microfilm scanning service is commonly utilized by the following entities.
- Libraries, historical societies and archives
- Law firms/litigation service companies
- Corporate organizations and institutions
- Engineering and aerospace entities
- Schools and universities
What is the advantage of scanning microfilms? Let us consider in some more detail. Microfilm rolls are not easily accessible; neither can these be shared among multiple people within the organization. In addition, you need microfilm readers to search for data on these rolls. If this equipment is damaged or unavailable, access to the information becomes virtually impossible. Other benefits organizations have by making digital images of microfilms include:
- Organizations can better address the needs of their end users.
- Information can be searched and retrieved in seconds without having to use any specialized equipment.
- Data availability is improved and thereby helps with audit and compliance requirements.
- The images created can be printed, e-mailed or faxed.
- Multiple users can access the images simultaneously over a network.
- The images can be OCR to allow full text searching within the documents.
For efficient storage, digitization of microfilm is necessary but it is also important to find out whether the microfilm or microfiche is too damaged for scanning. Following are some of the important considerations:
- Acetate-based microfilms can be damaged if they are exposed to humidity and fluctuating temperatures. In such cases, the microfilms will produce a vinegar-like smell and therefore it is known as vinegar syndrome. The microfilm can become brittle and break; they may also start sticking together. If there is serious deterioration, a microfilm scanning project may not be feasible.
- High humidity and high temperatures can speed up chemical processes and the subsequent deterioration. Fungus growth can also be accelerated by these conditions. Fungus attacks cannot be reversed and in this case, there is no point in scanning the records.
This highlights the importance of ensuring safe storage of your microfilms. Before embarking on a digitization project, you can have a professional organization examine your microfilm archive to determine the feasibility of digitization. It may be possible to recover some microfilms; however, these need to be handled very carefully to avoid further damage.
Organizations may find investing in microfilm scanning services more economical than maintaining the required equipment and staff in-house. This will help them meet the challenges of handling the complex microfilm scanning task. There are many imperfections such as skewed images, scratched film, varying densities and so on that makes highly specialized equipment and a highly skilled, experienced staff indispensable to prepare, capture, index and perform QA for large as well as small volumes of microfilm. This is something that may not be practical in-house, and which makes outsourcing to a document conversion company an attractive alternative.