In Oracle Magazine this month, there is an interesting article about a genealogical firm who are systematically converting microfilmed records into digital format.
At one archival site, FamilySearch has been storing images of historic documents on microfilm since the 1930s and has amassed 3.5 million rolls of film containing 4 billion records.
“Microfilm is a very stable medium, but it is not very accessible,” says Randy Stokes, group architect for engineering services, storage infrastructure, at FamilySearch. “We knew that if we wanted to make it easier for people to do research and find their ancestors, we would have to put this information into digital form.”
It’s a huge job. Approximately 25 automated scanners are used to scan the microfilm to digital images. Additionally, new photographic images are continually coming in from 185 digital cameras in the field. These operations yield terabytes of new image data each day. The original lossless images are saved as JPEG 2000 images for long-term storage … One copy is written to an in-house preservation system and another to an offsite archival location.
…“Between the scanners and the cameras, we amass 10 to 12 terabytes of new image data each day.”
Manuscript images also exist in microfilm in great quantities. I don’t know which brand of machines are used here — a Google search reveals several types — but clearly it is both practical and effective.