Microfilm Conversion Solution, Digital ReeL, Leveraged by Duluth, Minnesota City Clerk

400 microfilm rolls digitized at BMI’s California conversion facility; Document data sets included historic City Council meeting minutes and agendas dating back to the 1890s; Digital ReeL hosted solution provides staff immediate, online search and retrieval from elegant web-based app

The Duluth, Minnesota City Clerk’s Office handles elections, voter registration, and the issuance of certain licenses and permits, such as liquor licenses, pet licenses, and general business, among others.

Bobbi Pirkola, Assistant City Clerk, states, “We were having issues with our physical microfilm archive. It was difficult to find information requested, it would not print properly, and often the words printed out were terrible and in some cases illegible. We put a microfilm scanning project into the budget and started to research solutions.”

“We talked to colleagues across the County and conducted our own research”, continues Pirkola. “After reviewing approximately four different products to convert microfilm, we selected BMI Imaging’s Digital ReeL because it was the simplest and most effective product for our Office.”

Microfilm Conversion Avoided Risk of Missing Important Records During the Conversion Process

The 400 roll physical microfilm archive stored historical legislative information dating to the 1890s and into the early 1900s. Information included City Council agendas, minutes, and public hearing transcripts. Pirkola states, “It was the only copy we had and there was concern we were going to lose it as the microfilm eroded.” The microfilm rolls were packaged and sent to BMI’s California conversion facility.

City Council Avoids Need to Engage Limited IT Staff with Digital ReeL Hosted Option

The City Clerk decided to leverage Digital ReeL’s cloud hosting option. After BMI scanned the microfilm, all virtual microfilm rolls were imported to Digital ReeL and the City Council staff now logs into the application to search and retrieve records. BMI has a partnership with Raging Wire data centers; the images and data are securely hosted at Raging Wire’s Sacramento data center and collocated at BMI’s Sunnyvale data center.

Intuitive Application Makes Finding Records Near-Instantaneous

The Digital ReeL application replaced the physical microfilm archive and the microfilm reader printers that City Council staff were using in the past. Pirkola states, “Life is much simpler now for our staff. In the past it might have taken us 3 days to find a document, attempt to print it … and then hope to read most of it. We’ve now streamlined that to a few minutes. It’s easy to adjust the quality of the document and print it directly from within the Digital ReeL application.”

Improved Image Quality with Adjustable Grayscale

Pirkola states, “The records we are working with are of very poor quality. In the past, our staff would struggle trying to print out a record that was actually legible.”

Digital ReeL offers the ability to optimize difficult-to-read records with brightness and contrast enhancements. “It’s absolutely perfect for us,” continues Pirkola. “We can tune the quality of a record so that it looks like the day it was written. After we render a record to our liking, we can then print or email it to a requester.”

Read the full case study here.

About BMI Imaging

BMI Imaging Systems, Inc. has been at the forefront of the document management industry since 1958, first with microfilm and now with scanned images. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, with an additional production and sales facility in Sacramento, BMI serves over 500 commercial companies and government agencies, converting an average of 3 million images per month. BMI consists of 60 production specialists and support staff, many having worked for the company for ten years or more.

BMI has developed a wealth of experience in several vertical markets (e.g. healthcare, government, education) and offers customized document management solutions in a competitive and changing marketplace. Scanning paper documents or physical microfilm is usually the most visible task in achieving a full document solution.

Identifying record types, determining indexing methods and leveraging content in existing legacy systems are all skills needed to modernize an agency’s document management systems and processes. BMI’s systems integration team has decades of experience to achieve this goal. Internally developed software tools, over 400 to date, are regularly employed to solve complex image and data challenges. Jobs that require analysis, data extraction, multiple service offerings and custom development are those that separate BMI from other providers.