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This guide describes the wide variety of information products available at the Brooks Library on microformat.



It is no secret that paper based material take up a lot of space.  Microform editions were introduced to save valuable space in libraries.  A microform is any print item in which the original work has been photographed and printed at a much smaller scale on either paper or plastic.  Once micro-printed, the information can be retrieved using a microform reader and can be digitized by using a microform scanner.

To find a microform, you will need to know both the format (fiche, film, or card) and the items number.  Call numbers or accession numbers can be found in OneSearch.

Microform call numbers begin with MM-(microfilm); MH-(microfiche); MP-(Microprint).  Microformat items from the Federal Government will be classified using the SuDoc system.

CWU's microform collection includes a variety of materials, such as: newspapers, periodicals, rare and out-of-print books, government publications, dissertations, and various special collections.


Microform Advantages

Microform Disadvantages

  • Saves space, up to 95%
  • Cost savings in terms of reproduction & distribution
  • The print medium is archival stable and has an estimated shelf life of over 500 years
  • It is analog and information can be recovered from
    the medium with a magnifying glass
  • Only source of some material
  • Patrons must use magnification to use the medium
  • Reader/scanners can be difficult to operate
  • Reader/scanners can break down or not be available
  • Items can be easily misfiled in high density cases
  • Not as convenient and lacks features available in digital formats



Storing up to 98 images per sheet, microfiche is used for mass storage of documents.  Images are microprinted in transparent 4" x 6" sheets.  Individual documents are printed on their own fiche (or sets of fiche if need be) rather than multiple documents printed on a roll of microfilm.  Locating needed information is quicker due to this format.



Arguably the most known microformat, microfilm stores a single line of images on a roll.  The film roll is typically 35mm wide (using the same stock as motion picture film except no sprocket holes) and are usually 100 feet long. 

A typical roll can store 800 broad sheet (the largest size) of newspaper images.  Microfilm is often used to store large sized images such as newspapers, maps, and journals. Several of our collections come from Readex which frequently uses a thinner version of microfilm, 16mm. The thinner rolls were commonly used to store letter sized images and could store as much as 2,400 images. Though the vast majority of the microfilm collection is the standard 35mm film, this library owns a small collection of materials in this thinner size.  The reader/scanners can be used with either size film.



Microprint, unlike microfiche and microfilm, is not printed on a transparent film.  Also known as a microcard, the format is the precursor to microfiche. The heavyweight cards are printed with miniaturized images of book pages. The readers/scanners are equipped to also handle microprints. Each sheet contains up to 100 images. Microprint is used to store various kinds of information, from historical monographs to domestic and international government publications.


Readers and Scanners

The equipment at Brooks Library may be used for all the different kinds  of microforms are available in the Microform Room. 

Items scanned can 1) be saved -- to a CWU network account, an Internet based storage account (such as Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.), or to a USB drive; or 2) printed using your Wepa account. Patrons without a CWU account will need to bring save materials to either a USB device or to a Internet based storage account.