Digitizing Microfilm – Benefits and Drawbacks

For many governmental departments and organizations, digital preservation has been a concern for the past several years. One such concern has been what to do with microfilm in the next five to ten years and should your microfilm records be digitized.

Benefits of Microfilm:

  • Microfilm can last up to 500 years if stored in the proper conditions;

  • Eye-readable – can view with a light source and a magnifying glass.

Drawbacks of Microfilm:

  • Large collection of records on microfilm and your microfilm is only for records preservation purposes, not for use. You don’t have “access copies” for many of these records that are on microfilm;

  • Limited physical storage space for microfilm;

  • Departments need access to records that are on microfilm but they do not have the machines to read the microfilm;

  • Some types of film are too expensive to create duplicate copies;

  • Don’t have the budget to store duplicate copies at an off-site location for disaster preparedness purposes;

  • An inventory of what is on the rolls of microfilm may not exist;

  • Parts for microfilm readers may/have become obsolete;

  • Have to train people on how to use the microfilm readers;

  • Microfilm may develop vinegar syndrome if you do not have an environmentally controlled space to store them properly.

Benefits of digitizing Microfilm:

  • Digital preservation preserves the digital record and creates an “access copy”;

  • Can migrate the format so that it will always be accessible;

  • Cloud-based storage and glacier storage. Glacier storage is a Cloud-based type of storage that is cheaper since these records do not need to be accessed however, they need to be preserved;

  • Search-Engine based (online platform) accessibility for certain digital preservation systems, the public and/or staff can access;

  • Continual 24/7 monitoring of digital records;

  • Will no longer have to store microfilm which will save space and money.

Drawbacks of Digitizing Microfilm:

  • Extensive project especially if you have a large microfilm collection – need to prioritize;

  • Limited time and staff to carry out project.

Elise Kelly
Multimedia Archivist, Greene County Records Center and Archives

Data as Record: Managing Data within Information Systems

There is so much talk these days about data. Data security. Data privacy. Data classification. Big data. But there isn’t much consideration about data as records. How does “data” fit into the Ohio public records laws and records retention and disposition processes? Are records and data really separate and distinct from one another?

After struggling with these questions in regards to the retention and disposition all of the data sitting in countless information systems, I set out to logically work my way through the questions. First, is data a record? Using the definition of “record” in Ohio Revised Code 149.011 (G) I determined that:
• Data is stored on a fixed medium
• Data is created, sent or received by a public institution
• Data documents functions and activities of the public office
My conclusion is that data, when grouped together and used for a purpose, make records. Data collected for the same purposes, therefore, can be grouped into record series for the application of retention and disposition.

The Ohio Electronic Records Committee [ohioerc.org] recently posted a tip-sheet on Database Records Retention and Disposition [ohioerc.org], created to walk through the concept of records within databases / information systems, which includes the following sections:
• How are database or information systems records defined?
• How long must database or information system records be kept?
• Is it acceptable to keep database or information systems records indefinitely?
• Changing or decommissioning database or information system software
• Procuring new database or information system

This tip sheet will not only give an overview of these concepts, but it can be used to justify including the records manager in conversations throughout the lifecycle of the information system due to their vital role as manager of the records therein. For assistance in responding to public records requests when the requested public records are contained in a database, please see Guidelines for Databases as Public Records.

Pari J. Swift, University Records Manager, The Ohio State University

2023 NAGARA Conference – Cincinnati, Ohio

Looking to get some additional in-depth information regarding electronic records? This year’s National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators Annual Conference will feature several pre-conference digital records workshops and conference presentations. Several Ohio Electronic Records Committee members will be presenting.

Individuals can attend pre-conference workshops and do not have to attend the NAGARA conference.

For a full listing of Pre-Conference Workshops – https://nagara.org/AC2023/PreCon-Workshops.aspx

Pre-Conference Workshops that Ohio ERC members will be presenting:

DATE: Tuesday, July 18, 2023, from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Disaster Preparedness & Response for Record-Keepers

PRESENTERS: Nick Crossley, Becca Halbmaier, Daria Labinsky, Pari Swift (Ohio ERC Member)

PRICE: $150.00

OVERVIEW: “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes” is a popular saying in Ohio. But don’t wait until disaster strikes to come up with a recovery plan! It is vital that governments be prepared for small-scale to large-scale disasters of various types (man-made, natural, internal, external, etc.) that could affect records. In fact, some records are essential (or vital) to the recovery efforts themselves and the resumption of business. This full-day interactive workshop will be conducted by persons with a passion for disaster recovery planning and experience in government and emergency management.

DATE: Tuesday, July 18, 2023, from 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM – Introduction to Digital Imaging & Digital Preservation Requirements

PRESENTERS: Jahzerah Brooks, Nathan Owens (Ohio ERC Member), Tina Ratcliff (Ohio ERC Member), John Runion (Ohio ERC Member)

PRICE: $75.00

OVERVIEW: Access to government records and archival collections has always been important, but is now even more imperative in today’s “remote work” setting. Digital imaging of hard-copy records may be the solution to increase availability and transparency, but once a record is scanned, records programs and archives will then have digital preservation requirements and other regulations to meet. Join the Ohio Electronic Records Committee in this introductory workshop covering the journey of a “paper” record becoming a digital image and the considerations we must have for assuring digital preservation.

There are several electronic records presentations throughout the conference. Please check out the list of presentations that will be given from Wednesday, July 18th thru Friday, July 20th. https://nagara.org/AC2023/program-schedule.aspx?78b74a36c4ea=3#78b74a36c4ea

We hope to see many of you in Cincinnati this year!

Elise Kelly
Ohio ERC Member