Back to the Future - Microfilm & Microfiche Scanning

Despite the world becoming less dependent on traditional forms of documents and records, many companies still use manual processes that are not only archaic but also time-consuming. A good example is the use of microfiche and microfilm.

Fear of moving to modern technology is often based on the misconception that modern technology cannot be integrated with microfiche and microfilm rolls. However, microfiche and microfilm scanners help you transfer your old data into an online storage and archive solution.

You have a couple of options when it comes to switching microfilm and microfiche to digital files, including using an in-house scanner or hiring an imaging company to do your scanning for you. Here are some comparisons to help you decide which one will work best for your organization.

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What are Microfilm Microfiche Scanners?

Microfilm and microfiche scanners are somewhat similar to digital cameras in that they take digital images of the individual microfilm images which can then be stored on your computer. A lens projects the images to the microfiche scanner camera, and then the camera takes the projected images and creates digital files.

The Benefits of Scanning Your Microfilm

Creating digital copies of your microfilm and microfiche files allows you to have the information stored and accessed far more conveniently. Other benefits include:

  • Saves money on physical storage costs
  • Labor costs are reduced by automating your document management
  • Information is more efficiently accessed saving time and money
  • Reduces compliance and legal risks
  • Easily searches and retrieves valuable documents
  • Improves your commitment to green practices by going digital
  • Easy sharing amongst departments, clients and other stakeholders
  • Avoids the potential of lost files due to damage

Your files will be safe, accessible and brought into the digital age.

Option 1 - Buying a Microfilm and Microfiche Scanner

Typically, organizations that purchase a microfilm scanner for in-house are looking to use it to scan occasionally. In these cases, you may have a library patron who wants to digitize a couple of key articles of their local newspaper or a health records department that needs to scan historical medical records when a patient comes into the hospital. 

If you are looking at on-demand scanning the ScanPro 3000 Microfilm Scanner is the perfect solution. Its features include:

  • Easy to learn and easy to use interface for quick staff use
  • Optional software allow you to scan roll film, microfiche, and jackets up to 100 images per minute 
  • Consistent image focus makes it easier to find the information you need
  • The magnifier tool lets you read small text and fine details
  • You can edit individual sections of the image and even block out sensitive information
  • Automatically straightens your images for high-quality scans and reduced background noise
  • You can combine multiple scans and annotations on one page to reduce printing costs
  • Instantly sends images to your printers, pre-configured save locations, cloud storage, or email
  • Creates word-searchable PDF’s or the format that best suits your needs

This scanner became the leading microfiche and microfilm scanning tool due to its 26-megapixel camera. You’ll always have ultra-high-resolution scanned images of your film.

The ScanPro 3000 can scan high-volumes of microfilm and microfiche. However, be mindful that staff is needed for managing image quality control and indexing of electronic metadata for each electronic file you create.

Option 2 - Professional Microfilm Scanning Services

When you are scanning an entire collection of microfilm and/or microfiche files, you are looking at an extremely labor-intensive process. Although having a professional scanning company come in to handle the job might seem expensive, the costs up front will still prove to be the most cost-effective solution in the long run.

It is much quicker to have the massive undertaking performed by professional scanning services. They have the production scanning equipment and staff to get through your records quickly. 

Although there are production microfilm scanners you could purchase yourself, these machines are extremely expensive ($70,000+) and once you’re done with your scanning project, they become an expensive paperweight. 

Additionally, staffing the machines is also costly. Quality control of images as well as the process itself will require designated staff or even new hires to manage the onsite scanning.

Some organizations are concerned about sensitive information and the chance that their old files will get lost if they leave the office. However, especially in organizations with sensitive information that have varying degrees of security levels or confidentiality, keeping these documents open for scrutiny during an internal digitization process if far riskier. 

When handled by a professional scanning company your privacy and security are assured. In fact, most microfilm scanning companies will even provide onsite scanning as an option so your microfilm and microfiche never leave the office.

Once scanned, quality controlled and indexed, these images and data can automatically be ingested into your document management or ECM system of choice seamlessly integrating the past and present.

NEW GUIDE: How to become a paperless company in 90 days

Why it’s Important to Digitize Old Files

If you think you are managing fine using your old microfilm and microfiche files, keep in mind the nature of the film itself is unstable. You have to adhere to the correct storage guidelines to keep them from degrading.

Microfiche has to be stored in low humidity below 50% for optimal storage. If you are willing to invest in the space and proper equipment to keep it safe, this is not so much of an issue. However, humidity is not the only threat. You also have to store it in a cool place, that is at least below 70 degrees.

Not only can these conditions make it uncomfortable for people trying to research and access the files, but it also leads to issues when handling the microfiche. The material has to warm up before you start touching it. Otherwise, there’s a chance moisture created from the change of temperature can damage the film. In fact, for proper handling, the film should be left at room temperature before it is handled.

Because of these complicated storage issues, it might seem to make sense to store your scanned microfiche with a contract storage company. Although this might keep your film safe, it becomes a painful process to access the files when you need them. That’s why microfilm and microfiche scanning is the smartest, most affordable and safest solution to preserve your important information.