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  • Writer's pictureMonique Gaddy

Microfilm - Archiving Awesomeness!

Updated: Jan 3

image of colorful rolls of film

What is Microfilm? What is Microform?

Ah, microfilm, the archivists dream. Microfilm has the ability to take incredible amounts of information and put it into a form that fits easily into storage and takes a small amount of effort to view, print, and share. According to this very helpful blog, microfilm has been around since 1839 and was invented by John Dancer. It was later used to help with the transmission of information with the help of carrier pigeons. Microfilm is a way to preserve a lot of information on a small scale so that it can be stored with little to no maintenance. The technology used to view the information is also low maintenance and can be done independently and easily with the right training.

Microfilm is a type of microform, and microform has been used in various ways to store information throughout time. A lot of library patrons remember microfiche (which perhaps some libraries still use) but is no longer used at Caldwell Public Library. Other types of microform are: aperture cards, flat film, and ultrafiche. Want to learn more about the different types of microform and how it has been used for library archiving? Check out this extremely informative article from the American Library Association!

One special mention of microform is stereoscope form, which was very popular in the 1950's and known widely from the toy by the name of View-Master. The history of View-Master is so interesting, including some of the brilliant business moves made by Sawyer's, Inc. Other interesting information you can find on stereoscope is The World War through the stereoscope a visualized, vitalized history of the greatest conflict of all the ages, available through The Library of Congress. Did you ever have a View-Master toy and if so, what was your favorite story to view?

What do we like to put on microfilm?

image of stacks of bound newspapers

There is a surprising amount of interesting data stored with microfilm within Treasure Valley. Such as The Sears catalog by year, History of California and History of the Northwest Coast, by Hubert Howe Bancroft, The Downfall by Emile Zola, Organic Gardening Periodicals, and the Early History of the Boise Region by Eugene B Chaffee. Some of these records and archives are available at the location only or with the assistance of library staff, so please make sure you ask about the details of each from their lending libraries!

What We Offer at CPL!

Caldwell Public Library has a lot of newspaper archives for mainly the Idaho Press Tribune, formerly known as the Caldwell News Tribune. We are also working on a large digitizing project of this collection and other historical photos and sometimes you will see us working on it here at the library!

image of our list of newspapers on microfilm

We have had various requests for archival searches, some were easier than others, but for the most part we have found what we were looking for. Staff can work on these projects an hour a week until we have found the information and print out the articles and images or send them electronically. For more information, message us via the website chat or the library email, or call or drop by and we can begin our search. Patrons are also welcome to book a session with the microfilm machine as an independent user. This comes in handy especially if you already have experience with our microfilm machine.

There are also a lot of digital archives available through our digital newspaper section on our website, and other libraries have archived collections that you can explore too, such as Boise Public Library, who has their own system of exploring Idaho Statesman's obituary index.

More to Read and Explore...

Feeling like nerding out some more about microfilm? Look no further than our library catalog (well, look a little further sometimes, but still...) Click each image to get a link to the book we have in our collection! Have fun reading more about this subject!

Books on Microfilm

Book Image of: The New Spymasters
Book Image of: Future-Proofing the News
Book Image of: The Spy and the Traitor

Books with Microfilm in the Story

Book Image of: The Bourne Identity
Book Image of: Mayday

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