The objective of indexing is to organize records for easy access. Whether you’re using hard copy microfilm or digital files, the goal is to have a way to simply access and quickly retrieve your microfilm records. 

The level of digital indexing that you need will vary based on the requirements of your project. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all system for indexing, and the key is creating one that best meets your business needs.

In this blog we’ll discuss how to create a digital indexing system for your microfilm conversion project. We’ll also provide some helpful tips for finding a microfilm scanning partner who can best assist you with your indexing project. 

The Importance Of Indexing

When you’re indexing historical or archived records it’s imperative to have an indexing system that accurately captures and organizes all of the necessary information for retrieval. This’ll give you the peace of mind knowing you can retrieve your documents without headaches or delays.

When it comes to digital records management, indexing refers to capturing meta information from records so that retrieval is easier. The type of indexing system that you will need for your microfilm scanning project will completely depend on your plan moving forward for how you will access, store, and retrieve your converted digital files. If you already have an indexing system in place, it’s a good idea to start there and evaluate the efficiency of your current system before creating a new index.

Indexing keywords

What Types Of Indexing Services Do I Need For My Microfilm?

If your project is a large microfilm scanning project (hundreds to thousands of rolls), you may want to look for a scanning partner who has the expertise and services to assist you. With the right partner, you can create an indexing plan that’s best suited for the scope of your microfilm scanning project and your business needs.

In order to get an effective recommendation for indexing, you’ll need to have a discussion with your microfilm scanning partner so that they understand the scope of your digitization project and retrieval requirements. They’ll need information such as how you’re planning to search your records and the frequency with which they’ll be accessed.

Work with your scanning partner to understand the indexing and current retrieval methodology, see how that can be turned into a digital retrieval system, and then improve along the way. When working with us, we’ll use our project review process to help you craft a workflow that gets you what you want in the most productive way.

Consider these questions when creating your indexing plan:

  • How often are the microfilm records being accessed? (Frequency)
  • What type of content is on the microfilm? (Sensitive Information, Historic, Archived Records)
  • Who needs access to the microfilm?
  • How is it currently stored and retrieved?

Choosing The Best Indexing Option

There are multiple options to choose from when you decide how to index your digitized microfilm.

You can index at the microfilm roll level. The benefit of this is that it directly replicates how you find your records now: you locate the roll based on the label, and then find the data on the images. Also, this is the least expensive method to index your film records. 

You can index at the document level, such as by blips, flasher sheets, issue dates (newspapers), the start of a record. 

Page-level indexing is possible, too, such as Book and Page in land records. Typically, when you’re indexing to the page, you’re at the highest cost option, although that’s not always the case. 

Which option works best will depend on your unique project, but your scanning partner should be able to guide you to the most effective solution.

For small microfilm scanning projects, we typically use roll-level indexing and name files based on the information on your microfilm box label. If you want your files to be text-searchable, then we can run your newly digitized files through our optical character recognition (OCR software to capture characters and data. OCR is not generally included in scanning projects, so if you want text-searchable files make sure to ask for it!

Microfilm Scanning & Indexing: Expert Advice

If you don’t have an index to your microfilm, you’re aware that locating records isn’t an instantaneous process; it requires time and effort to find the documents.

In this situation, if saving time is a priority then it’s probably wise to work with a partner who can provide the proper indexing services. Keep in mind that additional indexing services will increase the cost for your project, which is why it’s important to evaluate the benefits of indexing to ensure the costs are justified. For example, additional indexing provides faster access to records and saves time, which improves efficiency. If your records are accessed on a frequent basis (daily/weekly), then it makes sense to optimize your employee’s productivity with tools like indexing which make their jobs (daily tasks) faster to complete.

Ultimately, it really comes down to evaluating the need with the cost to achieve the solution. We recommend you assess two things before making a decision:

  1. Frequency of Access
  2. The Quantity (Volume) of Retrieval Requests: Daily/Weekly/Monthly
Digital Index

A Simple Start To Indexing

The simplest way to begin your digital indexing plan is to replicate how you find your microfilm records in hard copy.  Once digitized, you’ll be familiar with how to find them (since you’re already doing it with the physical records) but they’ll inherently be quicker to find since they’re digital. 

A common problem we see is when clients jump right in and create an overly complex organization method, even if it’s completely different from how they use their roll microfilm in physical form. This can cause issues with the end users, so we recommend duplicating their current retrieval process, seeing how it works, then improving as time goes on and needs change. 

Remember the key is to keep it simple when it comes to creating an indexing scheme. Start small and add more levels to your indexing system as needed.

Next Steps

Reach out to us today! Click the “Get Your Quote” button below, fill out the form, and we’ll quickly reply to you to discuss your project.

Further Reading

Digitization & The Importance Of Historical Context illustrates why scanning your records while also keeping the original context intact is essential to records management. Give yourself the ability to always reference the original document. 

7 Problems With Microfilm Scanning, And The Solutions! describes 7 different problems with microfilm scanning and gives you a solution to each one. 

Microfiche Scanning | Avoid These 3 Mistakes discusses how to avoid these 3 mistakes during your microfiche digitization project.