In 1967, with the help of a grant from the Kresge Foundation,
the Clarke Historical Library began microfilming newspapers from
Michigan communities. Then, as now, local newspapers form the single
most important record from which a community can be documented. No
resource is more important for a local historian than the town
newspaper. Thus, for more than thirty years the Clarke Library has
worked with Michigan communities to preserve local newspapers on
microfilm. To date, more than 11,000,000 newspaper pages have been
preserved as a result of this work.
What the Clarke Does
The Clarke Historical Library’s microforms staff provides a
complete service that creates archival quality finished microfilm from
the paper newspaper (or other source material) that you provide. A
typical project begins when the newspaper arrives at the library. While
at the library, the newspaper is carefully cared for in our secure,
temperature and humidity controlled stacks. Before filming the
newspaper is disbound (if it was received bound, please see the note
below on why we do this) and checked to be sure all the issues and
pages are in correct order. Once collation is complete the newspaper is
filmed on a state-of-the art Zeutschel microfilm camera. Using this
machine, a 35 mm master negative reel is created. After inspection to
ensure that the film includes all the requested images and that all
technical, preservation standards have been met, a “print negative” and
user copies of the film are created. When duplication is completed, a
user copy of the film is returned to project’s sponsor, or to a
location the project sponsor specifies (often a local public library).
The original newspapers are either returned to the location from where
they came or disposed of by the Clarke Library in a manner agreed to in
advance the newspaper’s owner and the Clarke Library.
All film created by the Clarke Library meets or exceeds all
relevant American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards for
Why Choose Us?
Although there are several vendors who can microfilm your material, the Clarke Library offers three distinct advantages:
- Microfilming newspapers is part of the Clarke Library’s core
responsibility, to preserve Michigan state and local history. We are
dedicated to maintaining high standards so that future generations will
benefit from our work and to obtaining the lowest possible cost to
ensure the preservation of as much of our state’s heritage as possible.
Preserving history is our mission, not just our job.
- The Clarke Library maintains, without charge to the
customer, the original negative in offsite climate-controlled storage
and the print master in our climate-controlled stacks, thus maximizing
the life of the negative film and creating protection against a
disaster. This is not a service normally provided for free by vendors
but we do it because of our mission to preserve local history. We want
to ensure that your community history survives into the future. Should
your user copy be damaged or destroyed, the negative will be easily
found and available to make new user copies.
- The Clarke Library maintains a user copy of your film in our
library. Thus your microfilm project not only benefits you but it also
adds to the historical records available to the public statewide.
Although the Clarke Library is pleased to work with any
organization on a microfilming project, one of the most fruitful
approaches is the “Continuing Program.” Using this program we microfilm
a back file of a particular newspaper and also receive a free
subscription to the paper and retain current issues. When a sufficient
number of issues have been received to complete a reel of microfilm we
automatically film the material and forward a user copy of the
resulting film to you. Because the continuing program offers a more
stable business model for our microfilming project, we also offer this
service at a substantial discount over the price charged for “one-time”
Below is a tentative schedule of costs, as of May 1, 2008. Prices are subject to change without notice.
Original Microfilming per reel (approximately 1,000 images)
Continuing Newspaper Program Microfilming per reel
Service Copies & Replacement reels (Continuing Program)
Back File Copies* (other than Continuing Program)
Supplemental Labor Charge
$20.00 per hour
*10% discount on orders of 10 or more back file copies.
If you are interested in exploring the possibility of
microfilming a local newspaper, please contact us. We are happy to
discuss the details of your project and create a free estimate of
costs. Please contact Kim Hagerty by telephone at (989) 774-4420 or by
email at Kim.Hagerty@cmich.edu.
Ways You Can Help
There are various ways you can help support the Clarke Library’s microfilming project. These include:
- Locate paper in need of filming.
- Lend papers in your possession for filming.
- Support microfilming projects with financial donations.
- Share information about the Clarke Library’s Microfilm
Project with others who you think would be interested, or who you
think should know about the project.
- Start a project to collect back issues of a newspaper that has not been microfilmed.
- Provide a newspaper subscription for the Continuing Program.
Why We Disbind Newspapers before Filming
Although bound newspapers are extremely convenient for users,
they are a significant problem for cameras. All forms of binding bend
the newspaper at the point where the edges of the individual newspaper
sheets have been put together, just as all bound books curve at the
page meets the binding. That curvature compromises the quality of the
microfilm. A variety of problems can occur, depending upon how
“tightly” bound the newspaper is, that is how close the innermost column
of print is to the edge of the binding. At a minimum some portion of
the innermost column will likely be out of focus. At its worst, the
entire, inner column is not readable on the microfilm. For this reason
ANSI standards call for newspapers to be filmed disbound and flat.
Is Microfilm Obsolete?
As the nation moves into the digital era some people have
questioned the ongoing need for microfilm. Given the internet’s ability
to distribute information widely and quickly, can digitization of
newspapers replace the microfilming of newspapers?
Digitization is an important tool through which to distribute
copies of historical newspapers found in libraries and archives. The
ease with which an individual can call up information on a computer
screen contrasts sharply to the need for old-fashioned microfilm
readers. However, because of frequent hardware and software changes, as
well as the possibility of electronic file corruption, electronic
versions of newspapers are usually not a wise choice for long-term,
preservation purposes. Microfilm created in compliance with various
nationally-recognized preservation standards remains the best way to
preserve newspapers for the long haul.