How Does a Microfilm Reader Work?

May 1, 2018 7:25 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Microfilm has been used for years as an effective means of archiving and preserving documents. One of its biggest benefits is that not only does it save storage space for the library or facility storing those documents, but it also makes research of that information much more accessible to the general public.

You’ll find microfilm readers in just about every library, and they are also commonly used at newspaper and magazine companies, police departments and any other type of building or business where massive document storage is a necessity.

There are numerous styles of microfilm readers, but they all function in generally the same way. The idea is to allow the viewer to read information in the document via a lit-up frame in a strip of microfilm, which is usually 35mm wide. Microfilm comes rolled up on a reel usually made of plastic, about 3-3/4” in diameter while rolled up.

So how exactly do you use microfilm machines in Illinois? Here are some quick step-by-step instructions:

  • Open up the glass plate: After you have turned on the machine, the first step is to open up its glass plate. Some machines have a button that will open it up, and on others you may have to do so manually by pulling the carriage on which the glass and real spindles sit. Pull it forward and you’ll have access to the film loader.
  • Load the film: Put your selected reel of microfilm onto the left spindle, then run the film underneath the little rollers. As you slide the film under the glass plate, continue threading it through the rollers on the right side as well, making your way toward the empty film spool on the right. Once the film is fully loaded, close up the glass plate, once again either using the available button or the manual method (whichever you used to open it).
  • Move the film forward: You can manually advance the film yourself using knobs labeled “forward” or “fast-forward.” Depending on the model of machine you are using and how the document was scanned into microfilm, you might need to rotate that film into different angles so you can easily read it. This would be done either by using rotating knobs built into the machine or by rotating the entire carriage in which you threaded the film.
  • Focus: If you need to adjust the focus at all to be able to read the content on the microfilm, you can use the magnifying lenses in the machine. These are typically mounted in disks that will be readily accessible for you. Simply turn them with your hand and find the best focus setting for your purposes.
  • Rewind: If you need to go back and look at previous information on the film, you can rewind with a manual knob (usually labeled “rewind” or “fast-rewind”). When the reel is fully rewound it could be pulled off the spindle, which would shut down the machine.

For more information about how microfilm machines in Illinois work and the steps involved in using one, contact Microfilm Equipment and Supplies Inc. today.

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