Microfilm Scanning Solution from BMI Imaging Unlocks Newspaper Archives at Napa County Library

Digital ReeL microfilm scanning solution hosts the Library’s digital newspaper records at BMI’s datacenter; custom, Napa-branded online portal available for patrons searching the newspaper archives

Sunnyvale, California – January 11, 2017 – BMI Imaging Systems, a leading provider of microfilm scanning, document conversion and document management solutions, announced that Napa County Library has successfully deployed the Digital ReeL microfilm scanning solution.

The Napa County Library provides newspaper archives for the Napa Valley Register and the Weekly Calistogan.

In the past, the County received print copies of the newspapers, microfilmed the copies, and then offered a microfilm archive to patrons for newspaper research. The library staff hand-indexed the papers and would leverage a card catalog for search and retrieval. After issuing a Request for Proposal, the Library selected Digital ReeL because of the range of benefits it would provide and its competitive price.

The Digital ReeL platform hosts the Library’s digital newspaper records at BMI’s datacenter and offers a custom, Napa-branded online portal for patrons searching the newspaper archives.

Hosting & Custom Web Portal

BMI Imaging not only digitally scanned all 1,200 microfilm rolls, but also uploaded the digital records to its secure data center.

“We did not want a system that required heavy IT involvement,” Halstead says. “BMI offered a full service solution that included scanning, image processing, and web hosting; this made the experience a lot easier on our staff.”

Additionally, BMI customized the Digital ReeL interface to reflect the Napa County brand. Halstead continues, “There is continuity with the Library web site and the Digital ReeL interface. Patrons feel like they are in the right place when accessing our film archive through Digital ReeL.”

Newspaper Articles & Photos Accessed All Over the World

Not every publisher grants permission to provide online access to its records. In the case of Napa County Library, the key newspapers had a common publisher that decided to enable the Library to provide online access.

Halstead exclaims, “We’ve been pleasantly surprised with the number of people accessing our records online. In the past, this newspaper archive was only available at our physical location. Since January (2016), we’ve averaged 45,000+ image requests per month and users are from all over the world.”

Elimination of Physical Microfilm Repository

It is not uncommon for libraries to retain access to a physical microfilm archive after a digital alternative is presented.

Regular patrons and staff may be used to the physical microfilm and prefer the ability to browse back and forth and enjoy the serendipity that sometimes results.

One of the real testaments to the Digital ReeL solution is that staff and common patrons no longer use the physical microfilm. Halstead states, “Staff and patrons approved the retirement of the physical archive because Digital ReeL offers a better experience. The ability to browse a digital roll and quickly locate articles and photos has been well received.”

Additionally, future issues of the newspapers will be scanned and uploaded to Digital ReeL direct from hard copy. This will allow continuity of the local history on a go-forward basis.

Lessons Learned for Libraries Considering a Similar Project

Halstead concludes, “We learned a lot about a newspaper microfilm digital scanning project. I would recommend libraries consider the archive and whether you will add new content to it or if it is a static archive. If you are a County Library, think locally. There may be an opportunity to add other County municipalities that have legacy newspapers.”

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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 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.