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The Digital Revolution: Why Digitizing Microfilm Beats Microfilm Readers

While microfilm preservation undoubtedly remains the preeminent method for safeguarding paper-based media, the essentiality of digitization for accessibility cannot be understated. The Community History Archives champions this cause, delivering unencumbered digital access for the end-user and incurring no recurrent financial obligations for the institutions.


“While microfilm undeniably retains its prestige as an unparalleled medium for safeguarding a community’s historical legacy, the process of digitization triumphantly stands at the forefront of expanding accessibility, effectively transcending geographical boundaries and ensuring that this rich trove of heritage is accessible universally.”

~Chris Donohue, Owner/CFO

The digital age is upon us, and it’s shaking up how we interact with historical documents. More specifically, it’s bringing about a monumental shift in how we access microfilm. Once the primary method for preserving and storing critical information, microfilm finds itself on the brink of digitization, promising countless benefits and increased accessibility. This post will delve into why digitizing your microfilm trumps using a microfilm reader and spotlight the exceptional role of free digital archives like the Community History Archives.

Increased Accessibility: Going Digital

One of the most significant advantages of digitizing microfilm is the leap in accessibility. Traditional microfilm readers, while functional, require physical presence and are usually located in places like libraries, archives, or universities. This often makes access challenging for those residing in remote areas or individuals with mobility issues.

On the other hand, digitized microfilm can be accessed remotely from anywhere, as long as there is an internet connection. Suddenly, information once bound by geographical limitations is now universally available. This dramatically increases the inclusivity and availability of resources, leveling the playing field for researchers, scholars, and history enthusiasts worldwide.

User Friendliness: Digital Archives for All Generations

A unique selling point of digital archives is their user-friendliness, and the Community History Archives is no exception. While microfilm readers require a certain level of expertise and can be quite daunting for the uninitiated, digital archives typically come with intuitive and easy-to-use interfaces that can be navigated by users of all ages.

The Community History Archives, a free-to-use public platform, is designed with simplicity and efficiency in mind. It’s tailored to accommodate users with varying levels of tech-savvy, from tech-immersed millennials to less familiar baby boomers. Users can quickly search for information, zoom in for a detailed view, and even print or save specific documents.

Free Access: The Community History Archives

One of the key advantages of the Community History Archives is the always free access to invaluable resources. This not only fosters an inclusive environment for knowledge sharing and history exploration but also encourages more people to engage in and benefit from these archival materials.

Free access ensures that information isn’t exclusive to any specific group of people and promotes democratization of knowledge. Anyone with an internet connection can delve into the rich tapestry of history, unearthing insights that were once reserved for those who had physical access to microfilm readers.

Embracing the Digital Era

Embracing the digital transformation of microfilm provides a host of benefits. Not only does it foster a more inclusive environment by eliminating geographical barriers, but it also caters to all generations. It democratizes access to historical documents and makes them readily available to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

The Community History Archives ensures that history is preserved, accessible, and user-friendly. As we move forward, the importance of digitization will continue to grow, changing the landscape of historical research and ensuring that our past remains a vibrant part of our present and future.

By ditching the microfilm reader and diving into the world of digital archives, we’re not just taking a step into the future, we’re also ensuring a more comprehensive, accessible, and inclusive understanding of our past.

A Comparative Cost Analysis: Mechanical Readers Vs. Digital Alternatives

Indeed, understanding the cost implications is key when considering the move from traditional mechanical microfilm readers to digital alternatives, including Digitization Alone and Digitization with Complete Historical Archive (CHA). This comparison will explore several parameters.

Seat Licence Or Subscription Costs:

• Mechanical Reader: NA

• Digital Reader: Varies

• Digitization Alone: Varies

• Digitization with CHA: $0

Service Agreement Costs:

• Mechanical Reader: Seldom Available

• Digital Reader: Varies

• Digitization Alone: Varies

• Digitization with CHA: $0

Number Of Simultaneous Users:

• Mechanical Reader: 1

• Digital Reader: 1

• Digitization Alone: Dependent on License

• Digitization with CHA: Unlimited

Accessible Locations:

• Mechanical Reader: Institution

• Digital Reader: Institution

• Digitization Alone: Institution

• Digitization with CHA: Anywhere

Accessible Hours:

• Mechanical Reader: Institution’s Operating Hours

• Digital Reader: Institution’s Operating Hours

• Digitization Alone: Institution’s Operating Hours

• Digitization with CHA: 24/7

Replacement Parts Availability:

• Mechanical Reader: Scarce

• Digital Reader: Available

• Digitization Alone: No Replacement Needed

• Digitization with CHA: No Replacement Needed

Replacement Parts Cost:

• Mechanical Reader: Very Expensive

• Digital Reader: Moderate

• Digitization Alone: Often Included As Part Of License Or Service Agreement

• Digitization with CHA: No Replacement Costs

Search Capabilities:

• Mechanical Reader: None

• Digital Reader: Limited

• Digitization Alone: Dependent on Software

• Digitization with CHA: Fully Key Phrase Searchable Across Entire Collection, Including Multiple Titles, Dates, And Locations

Browse Capabilities:

• Mechanical Reader: None

• Digital Reader: Limited

• Digitization Alone: Dependent on Software

• Digitization with CHA: Navigate Directly To Publication Title, Date, and/or Page

Access To Content Other Than Microforms:

• Mechanical Reader: None

• Digital Reader: None

• Digitization Alone: Dependent on Provider

• Digitization with CHA: Anything In Your Collection, including books, maps, photos, slides, negatives etc.

Advantage believes strongly in building lasting partnerships, which is why we enter into them with the intent of shouldering our fair share. We take the burden off of the community for the ongoing costs associated with storage, hosting, development, and maintenance of their Community History Archive. We are proud to participate actively in the community’s efforts to make their collective history more accessible.

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