Library Newspaper Digitization Solution, Digital ReeL, Implemented at Belmont Public Library

Newspaper microfilm conversion modernizes approach to newspaper archive search and retrieval; online access avoids requirement to work with physical microfilm; grayscale image enhancement enables adjustable optimization of articles and photos

Sunnyvale, California – November 14, 2017 – BMI Imaging announced today that Belmont Public Library in Massachusetts has successfully deployed Digital ReeL as its online newspaper digitization solution.

Peter Struzziero, Library Director, states “We selected Digital ReeL over the other offerings because it offered a complete solution: the microfilm scanning at a secure facility, hosting of our records and a simple, elegant interface for online search and retrieval.”

The Library archived seven local Belmont newspapers on 180 rolls of microfilm, which were then stored in cabinets. Struzziero explains, “One of the questions we had as a team were the logistics of sending our microfilm records from Boston to BMI’s Silicon Valley-based scanning facility. However, there are customers nationwide using Digital ReeL and the lines of communication were open throughout the entire process. We also regularly had face time with our Account Executive at multiple library conferences throughout the Country.”

McMenemy-McColm notes, “We still plan to keep the physical microfilm and one of the two physical readers, but patrons have been excited to learn they can search and browse on the computer instead, and for the portion of the collection available over the Web even do their research at home.”

“I love being able to conduct research from my desktop,” says McMenemy-McColm. “If someone asks for an obituary, I can quickly find the article, and send it via email. What used to be a lengthy process with microfilm is now a five-minute task using Digital ReeL.”

Additionally, McMenemy-McColm says that Digital ReeL enables users to quickly enhance articles and photos. “This feature has been especially useful to us. Our physical microfilm was in very poor quality and those images were transferred over into a digital format. Digital ReeL enables us to optimize them in a way that we couldn’t before when the archive was on physical microfilm.”

“Now that we’ve gone through this conversion process, I’d recommend that other libraries consider the quality of their physical microfilm”, states McMenemy-McColm. “As you plan for a newspaper scanning project, work as an organization to locate all copies of the records. Secondary microfilm copies, if you have them, are usually in better condition because they are not used daily.”

The quality of the physical microfilm has a direct impact on the quality of the optical character recognition (OCR) technology that enables full-text search of the digital files. Any library that starts to think about digitally converting a newspaper archive may want to find out if and where the second copy of the newspaper microfilm archive is located.

McMenemy-McColm concludes, “Overall, we’re very pleased with the outcome. Our colleagues are impressed with Digital ReeL’s modern approach to legacy newspaper archives. Patrons outside the library are able to access these archives on the Web and I am able to answer more patron queries, because I can search a much larger time period, much more quickly.”

Read the complete registrar student record microfilm conversion solution 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.