Saturday, February 2, 2008

Using Microfilm and Microfiche

The Herb Caen Magazines and Newspapers Center at the San Francisco Public Library has a wealth of archived newspapers and magazines. You can find an obituary for a long-lost relative or read the gossip columns when Clark Gable came to town. Discover the price of a TV in 1970 or learn about the news on the date of your birth. In a digital age where so much information is easy to find on the Internet, it is easy to overlook this vast collection of resources.

There are different kinds of micro-formats. The library has magazines, journals, and newspapers on microfiche (a celluloid index card) and microfilm (a roll of celluloid film). The microform readers in the Center can be used to view either format.

To use the microform viewing equipment:

1. Choose whether you will be using the machine for microfilm or microfiche.
2. Check to see that the machine and printer are turned on.

To use the machine for viewing microfiche:

1. Push the rectangular microfilm carrier all the way back. Bring the glass microfiche tray to the right and slide it forward.
2. Lift the top of the glass tray and insert the microfiche card.
3. Push the tray beneath the lit optical lens and the image will appear on the screen.
4. Use the handle of the microfiche tray to move the image on the screen.

To use the machine for viewing microfilm:

1. Move the glass microfiche tray to the left and to the back.
2. Pull the microfilm carrier to the front. Push the microfilm reel onto the left sprocket.
3. Pull the film off the top of the roll, slide it under the left roller, underneath the glass plate, and under the right roller.
4. Slide the film forward until it buckles against the right take-up reel.
5. Press the front blue button to the left to get the film to “catch” onto the right take-up reel.

Depending on the machine, the knob to advance or rewind the microfilm is either on the right side of the machine or the front.

Options for using the machine are as follows: Different sized lenses are available. The lenses are interchangeable and can be exchanged for one of a different magnification.

Above the lens are three wheels:

  • The top wheel rotates the image.

  • The second wheel increases or decreases the size of the image.

  • The bottom wheel focuses the image and turning it will sharpen the image.

The Center has two kinds of microform equipment: Some of the machines are optical and will only display the film as it was photographed. The other machines are digital and allow you to print a reversed image from the screen. If the microfilm was photographed as a negative image, these machines will allow you to reverse it and print a positive image.

When printing, make sure to use the zoom control and place your image within the crop marks on the screen. These crop marks show the boundary of what will be printed.

If you have any questions about using the machines, you can ask one of the library staff to help you. Coming soon, the department will have microform and flatbed scanning equipment available.

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