GENERAL SUPPORT SERVICES PRESENTS:
Volume 1 : Number 2
Modern digital technology has become a mainstay in most government and business offices, offering increased access, increased storage and easy access. Many agencies now generate records on computers or have storage limitations that make microfilm storage difficult. Following are answers to many of the frequent questions concerning traditional micrographic storage versus digital scanning and storage.
No. There is no scanning technology that offers as high a resolution as filmed images. However, many documents may be scanned at 300 dpi and result in a perfectly usable product.
Wrong. Although pressed commercial disks may have a lifespan of 100 years, write-able CD-R media only has a storage life of 7 – 30 years, depending on quality. By comparison, properly prepared microfilm has a storage life of 100 – 200 years utilizing proper storage conditions.
The five year figure is due to the fact that software changes very quickly. The NML states that many electronic documents may become inaccessible because of changing software or computer systems. Remember WordStar or old DOS programs?
Easy. Many imaging vendors can produce microfilm from scanned records or can produce both CDs and microfilm from documents. Many can even generate images from microfilmed records. This option allows agencies to have the easy storage and accessibility of CDs while supplying the State Archives with the microfilm that they prefer. Check with your imaging vendor or contact the Archives for more information.
Not necessarily. Although microfilm is an old format, it is the most reliable format for archiving, both for longevity and accessibility. When properly stored, microfilm can be maintained for a very long time, much longer than any electronic format. A concern with new technology is that it can be replaced as quickly as it is introduced. Many agencies are gifted with old Wang floppy disks, 5 ¼ inch and 8 inch disks, tape drive units and other marvels of the computer age that were ‘the thing’ when new but are virtually unusable now. Microfilm is permanent, eye readable and not dependent on ever-changing software or technology for access.
Colorado State Archives
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Last modified June 25, 2003