• Library Shelf
    With a Life Expectancy of 500 Years
    Preservation Microfilm
    Secures Future Access to Your Collections

Welcome Backstage


Five centuries is a long time. To put that into perspective, 500 years ago Michelangelo had just put the final brush strokes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

From the height of the European Renaissance to the modern Information Age, that's how long today's preservation microfilm is engineered to last.

If you plan to preserve your special collections for half a millennium, it ought to be done right. Backstage is not a mass microfilming shop, sheet-feeding stacks of documents. We focus on the preservation needs of cultural repositories like yours, one archival page at a time.

Founded in 1986 as the Mid-Atlantic Preservation Service (MAPS), the Backstage preservation center has captured well over 100 million hand-placed frames of preservation microfilm.

Our expert preservation staff has worked with collections of every sort, in pristine condition or falling apart. We know exactly how to prepare your materials and how to best capture their content on microfilm.

We see ourselves as part of the larger preservation community and endeavor to stay involved and active in that community. Our clients range from large to small, from world-renowned academic research libraries to local historical societies.

Preservation Microfilm

Ensuring Access to the Past for Future Generations

We all love digital images. You can't beat digital formats for searchability and access. But how long do you expect your digital media to survive? How long will today's file formats remain viable? How are you addressing the challenges of hardware, software, and operating system obsolescence? How reliable is the funding for hosting, migrating, and curating your digital collections?

Microfilm is the gold standard for long-term preservation. And film is a format that's easy to convert to digital images. When you preserve with microfilm, you can rest assured that your successors will be able to use that film decades, even centuries from now.

Microfilming Services

Our mission to create the best microfilm for the preservation community hasn't changed since the founding of MAPS.

Each filming station in our studio incorporates the highest quality German optics from Herrmann and Kraemer and a custom-built media cradle. Every item we film is hand-placed under nonreflective glass, positioned beneath a planetary-mounted camera.

Those cameras are calibrated at the beginning of each shift, and our patented ExpoSure™ system uses computer controls to ensure consistent image densities from the first frame to the last.

Our processing lab is certified by industry partners and adheres to the rigorous specifications, guidelines, and standards established by ANSI, the Library of Congress, the New York State Archives, and RLG.

Our quality control team reviews your film for sequencing and ensures that a faithful reproduction has been successfully captured.

Filming Station


Climate-Controlled Security for Your Film

Print Master Storage

Our preservation facility in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania provides environmentally optimized, secure storage in a dedicated microfilm vault.

This controlled storage space is maintained at a constant temperature and humidity level. The vault is equipped with a HEPA air filtration system and a pre-active, dry-pipe-sprinkler fire suppression system.

We currently store more than 170,000 reels of film and 38,000 microfiche for over 100 client institutions.

No other facility in the United States is specifically dedicated to storing print master microfilm. This arrangement provides our clients with the convenience of ready access to high-quality microfilm duplication and digitization services so you can quickly fulfill requests for research copies and interlibrary loan.

Processing & Duplication

For Preservation and Access

Our full-service microfilm lab is equipped to meet all your processing and duplication needs.

When we create new microfilm, we follow preservation guidelines, duplicating the original camera film — the archival master — to create a print master reel from which service copies can then be made.

We can also make duplicates of your existing microfilm resources.

Although we typically duplicate images on 35mm film, our lab is set up to process both 16mm and 35mm microfilm, as well as 105mm microfiche.

Whether you have a large microfilm collection to duplicate or just need a single reel copied, our lab stands ready to serve.

Duplication Machine

Additional Support

Managing Your Microfilm Collections

Testing density

Vinegar Syndrome

Modern polyester base microfilm will last for centuries, but earlier film bases, such as cellulose acetate, begin to deteriorate over much shorter periods.

If your microfilm was produced prior to the 1980s, it is likely to be acetate. As the film breaks down, cellulose acetate generates acetic acid, creating the smell that gives vinegar syndrome its name.

Decaying acetate film will shrink, warp, and curl. Eventually, the film may become unreadable or too brittle for reproduction.

Not sure if you have acetate film? Contact us, and we can assist you in identifying acetate film and monitoring acidity levels in your collection. Not sure if you have acetate film? Contact us aand we can assist you in identifying acetate film and monitoring acidity levels in your collection.

SilverLock® Polysulfide

Metallic silver in film emulsions is susceptible to oxidation. Even in an archival storage environment, this silver can react with the air around it, causing faded patches or tarnished red spots in your film.

To safeguard your film against environmental hazards, we recommend treating your master reels with SilverLock polysulfide solution.

Developed by the Rochester Institute of Technology's Image Permanence Institute (IPI), SilverLock is a chemical solution that converts the metallic silver remaining in a developed image into stable silver sulfides. SilverLock treatment makes silver film emulsions resistant to the effects of common atmospheric pollutants without altering the image or other important film characteristics.


Lifetime Guarantee

At Backstage, we stand behind our work with a guarantee that has no expiration date. Quality is the foundation of our success, and we're confident enough in our ability to do things right the first time that we're willing to stand behind our work forever. Our promise here is very simple:

We will correct to the client’s satisfaction, and at our expense, any problem with our services, no matter when such a problem comes to light.

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