Deciding to Microfilm

Microphotography of State and Local Government Records

Government records may be microphotographed when it is determined to be cost-effective for the care, maintenance, retrieval, security, and/or preservation of the records. The Archives follows the Association of Records Managers and Administrators' (ARMA) standards that advise microfilming records with retention periods of more than 20 years. Therefore, records must be scheduled before they are microfilmed and their assigned retention and disposition approved by the State Records Committee. To determine if records have been scheduled and approved or to obtain help in doing so, call the State Archives and ask to speak to the Records Analyst assigned to your agency or local government.

Feasibility Study

It is strongly suggested that the agency or local government contact the Records Analysis Section and have a feasibility study conducted within 3 years of when the microfilming is to take place. The Records Analyst will review the inventory worksheet and any other relevant documentation and negotiate with the agency or local government to determine the optimal retention and disposition of the records series. Conversion to microfilm is one aspect of disposition. To determine the utility and feasibility of microfilming the records, the Analyst will consider:

  • Retention period of records
  • Size, format, and specifications of the records to be filmed
  • Micrographic systems in place (types of readers available, etc.)
  • File index
  • Budget priorities
  • Security required

Options for Microfilming Records

After the Records Analysis Section has approved a microfilming project, an agency or local government must decide how records are to be microfilmed. Factors influencing the decision include:

  • Agency budget;
  • Availability of staff;
  • Volume of records;
  • Location of agency office;
  • Type and cost of camera equipment; and
  • Classification of records

There are three options available for filming:

  1. Purchase micrographic equipment.
    This is a useful option if large quantities of microforms will be needed and filming will be ongoing. It is essential to consult the Preservation Section before purchasing cameras or processing equipment to ensure that it is compatible with Archives equipment.
  2. Contract with the Archives Preservation Section.
    The Preservation Section's micrographics services include records preparation, microfilming, processing, inspection, and duplication, all in compliance with ANSI and AIIM standards for high-quality microforms.
  3. Contract with a private vendor.
    This is the most expensive option, but can be useful and cost-effective in some situations. The Preservation Section will provide advice if needed. It is the agency's responsibility to ensure that the vendor's work is in compliance with ANSI and AIIM standards for targeting, film resolution, density, and processing.

Whether or not the Preservation Section is doing the microfilming, an agency may choose to use other Section services. These include processing, inspection, the creation of one duplicate, and storage of the master microform.

The agency will contact the Records Analyst once a microfilming method has been chosen. If necessary, she or he will put the agency in touch with the Preservation Manager, who can make arrangements for use of Archives equipment and provide advice on buying related services and equipment.

Prior to microfilming, the Analyst will create a Micrographics Work Order for the series. A copy of the Work Order will be sent to the filmer (state agency, local government, Archives, or private vendor). If not filming its own records, the agency will then contact the filmer to arrange for records transportation.

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Page Last Updated April 1, 2013.