Microforms join the 21st Century

by Chris Poché

If you are working on a research project that requires work with primary sources, newspapers, or periodicals, chances are you may need to use microforms to get access to some of those materials. Despite the increasing availability of online resources, some materials are still most easily and, sometimes, only accessed through the use of microforms. The Current Periodicals & Microforms (CPM) department has added two new microform machines to improve service to our patrons needing access to such materials.

A traditional microform machine projects a microphotographic image of a document onto a monitor screen that is part of the machine itself. CPM still has one of these machines (a Canon 300) but has been moving in the direction of using machines that have their own software and display their images on computers.

ST View Scan

ST ViewScan: high quality images with Clip Merge

In the summer of 2013, CPM purchased two ST ViewScan microform scanners, which offer ease of use, high quality imaging, and a variety of scanning options. Its most distinctive feature is called Clip Merge, which enables you to put several scanned images together in whatever configuration suits your needs. You can adjust the size of the images and juxtapose them in new arrangements. Also, you can highlight passages of text, write notes to yourself as you might write a note in the margin of a book, and more.

The ST ViewScan joins another relatively recent addition to CPM: the ScanPro 2000. The scanning options for the ScanPro 2000 are not as versatile as they are with the ST ViewScan, but it is also easy to use and provides high quality images. Its most distinctive feature is its powerful camera lens, which magnifies images up to 105x and is twice the power of the ST ViewScan.

ScanPro 2000

ScanPro 2000: magnifies images up to 105 times the original.

Both the ST ViewScan and the ScanPro 2000 are capable of displaying and scanning documents in all the microform formats available in CPM: 35mm and 16mm microfilm (including 3M cartridges), microfiche, and microcard. Scans made with these machines can be saved in multiple formats (pdf, tiff, jpeg, png, etc.) to your flash drive; or, if you don’t happen to have a flash drive when you visit, scans can be emailed as well.

The microform collections and machines are available for use whenever Ekstrom Library is open, and CPM staff is available to assist you Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 8 pm, Friday from 9 am to 6 pm, and Sunday from noon to 8 pm. The new machines themselves can help you to use them if CPM staff is not available at the time of your visit. Every button and feature is explained onscreen, and the ST ViewScan even has short video demonstrations of its main features.

As libraries navigate into the online future, microforms may seem stuffy and old school, but the technology being made available for their use has improved greatly to meet the demands of the tech-savvy library user.

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