How to Digitize Microfiche

by Colby Stream

Before computers, much of the written material that libraries and companies wanted saved was stored on microfiche. These films, which captured journals, newspapers and accounting documents, stored the paper as images. Essentially, a microfiche machine took a picture of each page and stored it as film. Another machine then expanded the image so people could read the small print. Today, however, you can convert the microfiche images to digital content, making it easier to scan the images and find the exact page you need within a document.

Step 1

Identify the type of microfiche that you need to digitize. The most common types include COM, which is a computer output microfiche that contain a high number of frames where the images are lined up by equidistant; 16mm and 35mm, a jacketed microfiche where the film is lined up on a 3x5 card; step-and-repeat fiche, where the images are lined up and spaced by equidistant on cards; and rewritable microfiche, which are positive images that can be erased.

Step 2

Find a company that will digitize the data for you. The equipment is far too expensive and the process too complex for a single individual or company to buy and digitize film themselves. Locate a company near you by visiting your local library or college library and asking where to find a company that digitizes microfiche.

Step 3

Contact the company for a price scale. Most companies charge by the image, but some may be willing to charge by a batch of images if you intend to convert lots of microfiche. Contact them via their website, by finding them in the phone book or by getting the number from someone at your local or college library.

Give your microfiche to the company. They will convert the microfiche and return the originals and digitized versions to you. The amount of time it takes to digitize your images depends upon the type of microfiche, the quantity you give the company and the quality of the digitization you requested.

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