Replacing something is hard, especially when you’ve grown used to using a tool for so long and even thinking about a change gives you chills. But when it comes to replacing your microfiche reader, you’re doing the right thing. 

If you’re using a microfiche reader and it’s starting to feel like a burden, you’re probably thinking about ways to improve how you view your records, and you do have options. We’ll lay out a few reasons why you may be thinking about making a change, and three options to replace your microfiche reader so that you can choose the one that fits your situation best. 

What Is A Microfiche Reader?

A microfiche reader is a machine that allows you to view an image from your microfiche at a normal size on a screen. 

Oftentimes a microfiche reader is also a microfilm reader, so you’ll be able to view the images on both types of material. 

Readers are also called reader printers because they allow you to print images from the microfiche viewer, so long as a printer is connected to the machine.

In the previous few decades, Canon microfiche readers and Minolta microfiche readers were the most prevalent, but in recent years “scanners” have become the norm because of their contemporary digital abilities. Today’s models of microfiche and microfilm reader printers (usually called a microfiche scanner) take up less space, connect to computers and the internet, and have more digital functionality than the reader printers of the past.

Why Replace A Microfiche Reader?

Common reasons to replace a microfiche reader are:

  1. You realize that you should digitize your microfiche records to catch up with the rest of the digital age and have your files in an electronic format. 
  2. Using hardware to view microfiche and microfiche records is too cumbersome and time-consuming. 
  3. Your reader printer is broken and you can’t/don’t want to repair it and don’t want to buy a new one. 
  4. Your reader is broken, you still want to use hardware, but you need a contemporary “scanner” that will last you the next 5+ years. 

Regardless of the reason that you want to replace your microfiche reader, we have options to fit your needs. Three replacement options are below.

Replacement Option 1 – Digitization Project

Option 1 is going forward with a scanning and digitization project. Choosing this will set you free from handling physical microfiche records, using machines and hardware, and dealing with maintenance and storage woes!

Digital conversion projects can be simple if you want them to be, and it will come down to how you’re going to use your microfiche records after they’re scanned. Depending on the final output you’re looking for, you may want to go with our Digital ReeL hosted solution or the more traditional scanning route.

Digital ReeL is our secure hosted application that replicates microfiche and microfilm in a virtual format. You’ll see the original record for the historic context and also have the ability to text search for index values and keywords, enhance images for optimal legibility, and export files. The historic context means we present the microfiche card and microfilm reel in its original form, so you can always see what the original record looked like but as a scanned image. Plus, with a hosted system you won’t have to worry about IT hassles on your side, we’ll take care of that! 

“Traditional scanning” is what you probably think of when you hear “digitization:” getting your microfiche and microfilm scanned and receiving PDFs or TIFs. This is a classic and easy way to get your digital files, and if you’re planning on importing the data into an existing database, you’ll probably want to go this route.

Take a look at our comparison of traditional microfilm scanning and Digital ReeL. 

Replacement Option 2 – Contemporary Scanner

Option 2 is to replace your existing unit with a contemporary microfiche reader scanner. 

With this option, you’re still using hardware to access your files but with the newer versions of this type of equipment, you should be able to use your microfiche more effectively. The controls on current readers are more user-friendly than in the past, and the available options to view, print, and scan your records provide you with everything you’d need for your research.

As with the older readers, the contemporary microfiche readers are primarily meant for individual use and small volumes of material. Capabilities exist to automatically scan microfiche and microfilm, but if you have a large number of records on film and fiche and you want them scanned in a reasonable timeframe, it makes more sense to work with a scanning company to have them digitized.

Replacement Option 3 – Purge, Scan-on-Demand

Option 3 is to review your microfiche records to see what you actually need to keep, and purge the rest.

If you have 10,000 microfiche sheets that have records for the past 30 years and find that you only need to keep files for the previous 7 years, you could potentially dispose of 7,000 – 8,000 microfiche sheets. Once you’ve whittled down your record collection, you can scan any required records as they’re requested and keep them in a safe place until you can continue the purge. 

With this option, you can still “replace” your microfiche reader by finding a company that can scan fiche on demand for you until you’re able to get rid of any remaining microfiche. Scanning on demand might not be cheap, but it could easily offset the cost of buying a new scanner that you might use a few times over a number of years.

I Don’t Want To Get Rid Of My Microfiche Reader

Don’t be ashamed of wanting to keep your microfiche reader; hold your head high! Sometimes keeping a method going as long as you can is a perfect option, especially when it comes to spending money if you decide to change your ways. And, you might just really enjoy using a microfiche reader – this is fine, too.

If you decide to keep your microfiche reader printer around, you’ll want to find a resource to help you maintain the machine. If there are microfilm scanning companies in your region, you can give them a call to see if they’re able to maintain and repair your specific model and to figure out their rates to do the work. If you can’t find anyone local, you can contact the manufacturer of the hardware and see if they’re able to help in some way, should you need it. 

Regardless if you find a company to help with the maintenance of your microfiche reader or microfilm scanner, you’re now on a countdown of when the machine will run out of steam. If you’re accessing records that require turnaround times, it’d be wise to have a backup plan in case your microfiche reader isn’t working when you get a request. In this case, see the options above (such as the “scan on demand” option) and research companies you can contact to have your records scanned quickly.

Next Steps

Ready to replace your microfiche reader? Call us at 800.359.3456 or send an email to info@bmiimaging.com and we’ll set you up with one of our reps to work with you and figure out which replacement option makes the most sense for your situation.

Further Reading

For more information about scanning and digitization (a great option to replace your microfiche reader), take a look at the following articles:

“ScanPro Microfilm Scanner vs. Digital ReeL” compares the ScanPro microfilm scanner with our Digital ReeL scanning and conversion solution. Though the ScanPro is a specific type of microfilm scanner, the comparison can be used for information generally about hardware versus scanning services. 

“How Much Does Microfiche Scanning Cost?” describes the 9 factors that can affect the price you’ll pay if you have your microfiche scanned. Factors include the number of microfiche you’re having scanned, the type of microfiche, and the indexing requirements, among others. To get a ballpark idea of how much you may spend, start here. 

“Records Scanning vs. Records Storage” compares scanning your records and storing them. Scanning can be a great option, especially if you’re replacing a microfiche reader, but storage might be the best option if you don’t use your microfiche much. Find out which method could work for you before you replace your microfiche reader!