How to Use a Microfilm Reader

December 9, 2016 2:49 am Published by Leave your thoughts

If you’re interested in peering into the history of your family lineage, chances are, you’ll require the services of a microfilm reader at some point during your search. That’s because these amazing machines can give you a wealth of historical information that can greatly help you with unlocking the secrets of your past. Libraries across the states have huge stockpiles of microfilm. For example, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City has 2.4 million rolls!

But how exactly do you use a microfilm reader? Let’s take a look at the steps involved in this increasingly specialized and important process:

  • Find the film you need: Now is no time to be bashful! Head to your library’s front desk and ask for assistance with finding the film you’re looking for. You’ll see immediately that there are countless rolls available for reading, and the librarian will have a much better knowledge of where yours is located, saving you a lot of time and frustration.
  • Position the film on the spool: Again, don’t be nervous about asking for help once you acquire the roll of film you’re after. Microfilm readers are somewhat antiquated machines, and in our digital age, it can seem daunting to operate one. Fortunately, with a little help and encouragement, you’ll soon find it’s not difficult to get going. You should see a spindle for your film spool on the machine; place the film on it so that it can be unwound clockwise. Then, pull the film under the rollers and into the “take-up” reel on the right side of the machine.
  • Get it set: Wind the take-up reel a couple of times so the film catches, and then gently use the red fast forward button until you see the first image appear. Next, slide the tray with the film on it underneath the microscope, and presto! You’ll see the miracle of the microfilm machine: a full, close-up historical document on the screen in front of you.
  • Rotate and zoom as necessary: You’ll probably see that the copy is sideways, but don’t fret. It’s easy to rotate the image with the buttons in front of you. You can also zoom in or out and tweak the focus using the knobs on the microscope.
  • Print or scan: If you want to take a physical copy of your research with you, it’s time to print. You’ll probably want to double check with your librarian before attempting to print anything, as settings may vary. But in general, you’ll see that you can choose a couple of different paper sizes, as well as select the best settings based on the film type and position. Make sure to line up the image exactly as you want it to appear, and double check that you have the correct pages.
  • Put it back: Remember to pull the tray out and slowly pull the film out after you use it. Put it back in its correct spot, and switch off the film reader before you call it a day.

If you’d like to know more about microfilm readers, contact Microfilm Equipment and Supplies Inc., your local experts in microfilm equipment, setup and more.

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