Backstage Library Works

Preservation Microfilm

Ensuring Access to the Past for Future Generations

You can’t beat digital image formats for searchability and access, but a host of other challenges arise when dealing with digital. How long do you expect your digital media to 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.

New to microfilm? Familiarize yourself on the different types of film bases, emulsions, polarities, and more. 

Preservation Microfilm

Microfilming Services

Our mission to create the best microfilm for the preservation community hasn’t changed since the founding of the Mid-Atlantic Preservation Service, more commonly known as Preservation & Resources. From then to now, each project includes the use of our high-quality optics, best in class tools and proprietary process. Check out the details:

Microfilm Infographic

Preparing Materials

Newspaper Collation

To prepare for microfilming, newspapers are laid flat and checked for folded corners and torn pages.

Tight margins on bound collections may necessitate loosening or removing the bindings to avoid losing text and image content to the curve and shadow of the gutter. (We always talk to you before making any changes to bindings.)

Issue and volume breaks are flagged for targets to be inserted.

RLG guidelines call for a full page-count review, so missing pages and numbering errors can be noted on the targets. An accurate page count also facilitates reel breaking, planning where to stop for the transition from one reel to the next.

Climate-Controlled Security for Your Film


Our preservation facility in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and our secondary facility in Provo, UT both provide 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 a quarter-million reels of film and 38,000 microfiche for over 100 client institutions.

No other facility in the United States is specifically dedicated to storing preservation 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.

For Preservation & Access

Microfilm Processing & Duplication

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.


Additional Support

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, which may shrink, warp, and curl and can eventually 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.


Additional Services

SilverLock® Polysulfide Treatment

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.



Preservation & Access Solutions

Microfilming and digitization are strong assets to collection management. Combining both methodologies ensures that your library’s collection is well-supported and widely accessible, with long-lasting microfilm copies complimenting discoverable digital files. 


When you send your project to Backstage for microfilming, digital surrogate JPEGs can be generated at a flat-rate per reel, ideal for lightweight ingest into a Digital Asset Manager (DAM). Alternatively, and particularly if your microfilm did not originate from Backstage, ask us about our Reel Deal: another flat-rate solution that exports your microfilm images to TIFFs, JPEGs, PDFs, and more, providing a more robust breakdown of derivatives for archiving and access.


When you send your project to Backstage for digitization, your deliverables will include files optimized for duplication to Computer Output Microfilm (COM). This is especially valuable for born-digital TIFFs, providing an excellent microfilm backup. 


At Backstage, our quality is guaranteed.

Read about our lifetime guarantee.

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