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Reserves and Media Services/Government Information: Microfilm

Using Microfilm

Microfilm can preserve large numbers of documents in a compact format and is durable -- under the right conditions microfilm can last for up to 500 years. However, many people are uncomfortable with using microfilm because it is fragile, requires careful handling, and because a lot of the equipment that reads and scans microfilm can be unwieldy to use.

Government Information and Media Services that has a number of reader/printers for your use. Staff can help you find the microfilm you need and who can set you up on the reader/printer machines to use it. It doesn't take long to use microfilm for your research once you've done it a couple of times.

You'll find that as you do more and more research that a surprising number of the primary sources you need to get your research done are not readily available in any other format, if they are available at all.

Microfilm Formats

Microfilm comes in a number of different types. The most frequent type that you will come across is 35mm microfilm, which is stored on thick plastic reels. You will also frequently come across microfiche (or simply "fiche"). Microfiche are images stored on small flat sheets instead of reels. Other types of film that you may use less frequently include microprint and microfilm cartridges. Some of the most common types of microfilm are illustrated below.