A simple question, with simple answers. Simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy, of course, but we’ll do the best we can to make it that way. First, we’re glad you’re reading this article, because it means you’re curious about how to make your microfilm scanning project a success. Second, you’re reading our article, which always makes us happy. Our goal here is to give you some ideas before heading down the path of microfilm scanning, and we know you’ll find at least one nugget of useful information here. Let’s proceed, shall we?
4 Steps To Prepare For A Microfilm Scanning Project
If we wanted to, we could list dozens of steps to help you prepare for a microfilm scanning project. Dozens of steps could be a long read, though, so instead we boiled this article down to four larger steps to get your planning juices boiling as you embark upon the great crusade of digital conversion! Read on and open your mind to the wonders of microfilm scanning…
Step 1. Figure Out What You Have
One of the first questions we like to ask prospective clients is “what type of microfilm do you have (microfilm, microfiche, aperture cards, etc.), and how many?” You don’t need to have the exact number down to the roll of microfilm or sheet of microfiche, but a good estimate is a solid first step. Something as simple as “about 500 rolls” or “30,000-40,000 microfiche” is a great first step.
Not sure what type of microfilm you have? Click over to our “What Kind of Microfilm” page to get a better idea of the various formats you may have. And if you still can’t figure it out, a phone call with an expert (hint: BMI) will do the trick!
Here’s a bonus trick to count microfiche.
Microfiche are those small sheets that are close in size to an index card. You know, those cards you used in grade school to learn how to spell words? Anyway, if you have even a small archive of microfiche, you’re not going to want to count out all the sheets to figure out a volume for your project. Luckily for anyone that’s ever had to deal with fiche, there’s a quick way to get an approximate number of fiche: when the sheets of fiche are stacked together, such as in a drawer, get a measure of the linear inches that the fiche take up and multiply that by 90. (90 is a rough number and will depend on if the fiche are stacked tight together, if they’re in sleeves, if there are numerous separators, etc.). This will get you a ballpark count of fiche!
Example: you have a 4-drawer cabinet of microfiche, and each drawer has two rows of fiche, front to back. The drawers are 15” deep. So, four drawers multiplied by two rows per drawer equals eight total rows. Eight rows multiplied by 15” per row equals 120”. 120” multiplied by 90 fiche per inch equals a total estimate of 10,800 fiche. Easy!
Step 2. Figure Out What You Want To Do
It’s nice to know what you have, but it’s even better to know what you want to do with it. Why is this step important? Good question! Let’s use an analogy:
Scenario A: you’re laying around on the couch, watching cartoons, and your stomach rumbles. Ok, time to get some food. You hop in the car and start driving around. And driving around. And around.
Let’s try a different approach.
Scenario B: you’re laying around on the couch, watching cartoons, and your stomach rumbles. Ok, time to get some food. You sit up and think for a minute or two and decide on a sandwich, and you remember a great place downtown. So you hop in the car and in ten minutes you’re at the shop ordering your hoagie.
Could you make Scenario A work? Sure, but it’s tedious and time-consuming, and seeing all the options on the drive may put you into analysis paralysis, which could mean hunger cramps and being hungry. Make your life easy and have a (general) idea of what you want to do before jumping into action.
What does this mean for a scanning project? Well, here are a few things you could have in mind … *DEEP BREATH* scanning resolution, file output format (e.g. PDF, TIF, black + white or grayscale images), index information (how to name your files once they’re digital), start date of project, desired completion schedule, budget, and so forth. Whew! Quite a few things to ponder, but well worth the effort.
Step 3. Decide How You Want To Do It
You know what you have and you know what you want to do with it. But how?! If you’re a DIY kind of person, we applaud you and wish you the best of luck. We can even give you some helpful advice to guide you on your way.
If you lean towards the “I can do it myself, but I have more important things to do” kind of person, we applaud you even more and would like to meet you. Specifically to scan your microfilm.
Step 4. Do It!
Time to roll up our sleeves, get in the trenches, put some back into it, and get your microfilm scanned! Really, though, digital scanning projects are (almost) never emergencies or urgent, so even if you’re not planning on starting scanning today, it’s a good idea to get the ball rolling so that it doesn’t surprise you when your boss says “hey, I want that film scanned. How are we doing it?”
Think ahead to get ahead. Planning early is the smart move, and we know you’re smart because you took the time to read this entire article, give you a leg up in your conversion project preparation.
If you’re curious how your project will run once we get the green light, take a look at our “How Does a Microfilm Conversion Project Work?” page to get an overview of our unique process.