“Working with Backstage to preserve the valuable history of our community has been a great experience. The quick turnaround, level of quality, and customer service is unmatched.”
–Louise Doll, Vice President, Perkasie Historical Society
In 2019, Backstage Library Works wrapped up a year and a half long project with the Perkasie Historical Society to microfilm 89,217 pages: that is, 57 years of local history, which was preserved and made accessible to generations of patrons to come. The results of this very successful project are now available through various public online mediums, and the physical collection (both original materials and service copies of reels) remains accessible for review at the Perkasie Historical Society Museum.
The Perkasie project is just one of many fantastic case studies that highlight Backstage’s core values and our tried-and-true approach to newspaper scanning. We see more than 3,000,000 pages and over 200 titles pass through our microfilming studio yearly, and our team is better than simply ‘expert’: we’re genuinely dedicated to the principles of preservation and access. Each page is hand-placed on our state of the art planetary microfilm H&K cameras which assures the most delicate process in handling our clients’ materials.
Most workflows for incoming projects look very similar to the Perkasie project, and a newspaper scanning project with Microfilm typically follows these steps.
Arrival, Inventory, and Collation of Materials
Every shipment of inbound materials is checked against its packing list, assigned a barcode flag, and placed in our secure, climate controlled storage. There, an inventory database tracks the chain of custody from start to finish.
Materials aren’t quite ready to be scanned out of the box, however. Backstage takes care of a process known as collation, which ensures all pages and issues are organized into their appropriate scanning order. It can be a complicated step as it assesses any missing issues, unnumbered or misnumbered pages, and includes the preparation of targets, which are scanned along with the pages according to RLG guidelines.
The Prep Department at Backstage, which handles collation, will also flatten down folded corners of your newspapers, and can apply minute repairs with the use of Filmoplast™. If newspapers are bound together then, with a library’s permission, the Prep Department will also take care of disbinding.
Preparation alone is frequently the heart of a successful microfilm project, and we’re happy to take care of this step for you.
Filming of Materials
The newspapers scanned for the Perkasie project were, like many newspapers of the last century, printed in pulp. If your institution retains physical newspapers, then you are already well aware of the fragility and deterioration that can occur over time. Backstage’s cameras offer support for materials and the patented ExpoSure™ filming program automatically accounts for what density is required to get the cleanest image , even if newspaper is fading or yellowing.
From Camera to Microfilm
Backstage is equipped with a full darkroom and processing lab, and this coupled with the fact that we have the option of applying a secondary silverlock polysulfide treatment means that Backstage is a one-stop expert in creating, duplicating, and treating microfilm that will last for half a millennia. We follow RLG, ANSI, and LC microfilming guidelines closely; Backstage creates a camera master, then a print master negative copy. With the print master in hand, we can duplicate positive copies of the film into as many service copies as your library thinks is appropriate.
Not sure where to keep your archival reels? Account Representative Beth Ann Goodwill shares how Backstage can also help with secure, climate controlled storage.
The Finished Result
At the end of a project, the library will be given any one or combination of the following, at their decision:
- Camera master, print master, and a quantity of service copies. That is, first, second, and third generation microfilm.
- Original material returned in better condition and order than it arrived, ready to return to library storage. Or, Backstage can recycle your newspapers for you.
- With preservation assured, Backstage can also take your microfilm reels and digitize them for online access: just like we did with the Perkasie Historical Society. Preservation and fast access.
- Any level of reporting as to what was filmed, how it was filmed, and with regular updates through the course of the project by means of our Weekly Update e-mails.
- A lifetime guarantee. We are passionate about good work and we stand by it so confidently that we will correct any problem with our services, at our expense, no matter when such a problem comes to light.