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Term: Microfilm

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Term: Microfilm

According to an exhibition at the University of California, microphotography is as old as photography itself, with some experiments dating to 1839. Many other developments followed. The generic term microform covers reels of microfilm, sheet-form microfiche, aperture cards, and other types. The 1930s saw the first microfilming of newspapers, journals, books, and dissertations together with the first forays into the field by libraries and archives. This activity burgeoned after the end of World War II and saw increasing standardization (Microfilm standards) in the latter third of the twentieth century. Library and archive microfilming has generally been carried out by institutional preservation programs and the resulting films are generally called preservation microfilms.

Practices for preservation microfilm vary by category of source content. Most printed matter selected for preservation microfilming consisted of brittle (or soon to be brittle) books and newspapers and the original items were often discarded after filming. The specifications for filming printed matter called for complete coverage, i.e., the imaging of all pages (including blanks). Since most of these brittle books had been rebound, the preservation microfilms generally do not image the bindings. In contrast, when manuscripts were microfilmed, the originals were rarely discarded. The microfilmed coverage of a manuscript collection was also intended to be complete but blank pages, e.g., the back side of a one-page letter, were generally not imaged.

Preservation microfilms can be seen as examples of virtual replicas, although specialists in the field do not use that term. By extension, the sets of digital images that reproduce microfilm content can also be seen as virtual replicas of the original items.
Exhibition about microfilm at the Southern Regional Library Facility of the University of California
Microform (Wikipedia article)
See also:
Microfilm standards