Newspaper Microfilm Scanning Solution, Digital ReeL, Successfully Deployed at Yuba County Library, California

Microfilm scanning solution for the Appeal-Democrat newspaper archive saves hours of week in staff time; patrons access digital newspaper archives from a computer workstation and use full text search to locate articles and photo quality pictures

Sunnyvale, California – January 6, 2015 – BMI Imaging Systems, a leading provider of document management and microfilm scanning solutions, is pleased to announce that Yuba County Library (located north of Sacramento in California) has successfully deployed the Digital ReeL newspaper microfilm scanning solution.

Gina Zurakowski, Archives Librarian, states, “Converting The Appeal-Democrat newspaper archive from microfilm to Digital ReeL has greatly improved the user experience of our patrons. The quality of the articles and photos is incredible compared to the old methods of viewing microfilm, and the full text search functionality allows us to find information in ways previously not possible.”

Yuba County Library Local History Archives room strives to be the recognized repository for written and audio materials dealing with the history of Yuba County, California. A key part of this history is the Appeal-Democrat newspaper, the number one local news source for Sutter and Yuba counties. The newspaper is a direct descendant of a line of newspapers that dates back to the Marysville Herald, which debuted August 1850, two years after gold was discovered nearby at Sutter’s Mill.

Gina Zurakowski, Archives Librarian, explains, “We had microfilm for the newspaper dating back to 1849 and the archive is heavily used by local historians looking for Gold Rush information. Converting this microfilm archive to Digital ReeL has improved the image quality of the content and empowered users with full text search to find information in ways previously not possible.”

The Appeal-Democrat microfilm archive cabinet and two reader/printers were stored in the History Archives room. Anyone from the public could sign in and access the archive. Zurakowski states, “We had all the common hassles you can imagine with physical microfilm. We would also receive phone calls from out-of-state patrons looking for information like obituaries of family members. I would spend at least 3-4 hours a week looking for this information and then would print and mail it to them.” With Digital ReeL, the library staff can fulfill requests in seconds using text search and PDF email functions.

“Digital ReeL alleviated all of this trouble as patrons can quickly retrieve information without handling physical microfilm. I find and print information in a fraction of the time”, concludes Zurakowski.

The Digital ReeL solution began with the secure shipment of the physical microfilm rolls to BMI’s Sunnyvale, California conversion facility. The microfilm rolls were sent in batches of 300-350 at a time. After BMI scanned the 1,200 Appeal-Democrat microfilm rolls, the digital newspaper archive was stored at BMI’s secure, Sacramento data center (via BMI’s partnership with RagingWire).

In the past, Yuba County only had two physical microfilm readers. Today, patrons access Digital ReeL from one of 24 computer workstations. Full text search is unlike anything the Library has had before. Users can now find information in seconds using key words and dates (e.g. obituaries, historical events, genealogy). Search terms are highlighted in yellow on each returned newspaper page result.

One of the key challenges Yuba County faced with the physical microfilm was image quality. Difficult-to-read articles and grainy photos were not uncommon. Zurakowski states, “Our patrons find the adjustable grayscale feature of Digital ReeL very beneficial. They can take faded and even illegible articles and enhance the image so that it is much easier to read. Newspaper pictures can be converted to high quality photos.”

“Overall, Digital ReeL is helping us achieve our mission. We are offering an easy way to look up historical information and enhance the image quality of that information”, concludes Zurakowski.

Download the Yuba County Library case study.

The Digital ReeL microfilm scanning solution is available nationwide. Call (800) FLY-FILM to learn more.

About BMI Imaging’s Digital ReeL

Since 1958, BMI Imaging Systems has partnered with libraries across California and the United States to preserve historic records and local history. Building upon relationships that have lasted decades, BMI is helping libraries and archives transform their microfilm records and historic documents into a new digital format that provides simple access and image enhancement capabilities never seen before, all in an elegant retrieval platform.

Digital ReeL is a complete microfilm scanning solution. BMI will convert your microfilm at one of our secure facilities. The Digital ReeL microfilm scanning service creates a digital replica of your original microfilm (or microfiche). The Digital ReeL microfilm conversion solution includes an easy-to-use viewer that emulates microfilm retrieval from a reader printer. With Digital ReeL, patrons can scroll digital microfilm rolls from a computer or tablet and find historical articles and photos from local newspapers. Text search is included and makes it easy to find obituaries, historical events, local history and more using key words and numbers (e.g. dates). Adjustable grayscale enables patrons to turn black and white images into real photos.