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I’ll take a bet that microfilm can’t do that! Or could it? - December 2003

The World Wide Web and its spiders have us all connected and also rolled up in its silken threads, never to be released, and probably devoured by the monster spiders!

I do not know about you, but I have been bitten by the spider and my day to day existence (in its current form) would be unthinkable without the virtues of the www (almost instant knowledge – if you are good at searching) and the unfortunately curse of its vices (those hundreds of crap spam messages I receive every day). I killed 891 spam emails that my software had spared me the effort and nauseousness of having to read and delete this morning and just six hours later I have another 54 caught by my spam software. Heaven forbid!

But I deviate from the point. Am in favour of and a promoter of the use of microfilm as a short, medium and long term storage media? You betcha!

Can microfilm compete with the instant recall that is provided by the www? Hell no! But it can take that data and grab it in a visual format today and hopefully onto digital microfilm sometime tomorrow, or the day after and maintain it without degradation for a hundred years or even longer.

Two web sites became know to me recently and I am impressed after having a look at their offerings. The first is Project Gutenberg @ http://promo.net/pg/ with 10,000 books on line and downloadable for the exorbitant fee of ZERO cost. NO charge! You may be forgiven in wondering how the publishers might survive, but do not fret no books younger than pre – 1923, or 80 years old are on the list. No, commercialism is not dead, as current publications of today may not find their way to this site until they are at least 100 years and out of copyright and maybe not even then as the books are selected by volunteers as being worthy of their time to type in the book in its totality into a digital form. Not a promising situation for a current technical journal such as this publication (unless of course you are an imaging buff either film or electronic based). What you will find are the classic books from the start of this century and previous centuries, from authors like Shakespeare, Poe, Dante, as well as well-loved favourites like the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the Tarzan and Mars books of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Alice's adventures in Wonderland as told by Lewis Carroll, and thousands of others. Someone may care to offer to microfilm the Project Gutenberg digital holding of their 10,000 books onto the only long term media for the sake of posterity and the good of the community of the future? Take a moment and take a look at this gem and you may even download a book or two for your own pleasure.

The second web site is more current in its subject area and captures many Australian and other web sites on a daily basis, or when changes occur to their content. The web site is the Pandora Archive of the National Library of Australia and Partners @ pandora.nla.gov.au/index.html. The Pandora Archive captures web sites as diverse as Agriculture, Health and Literature to Sports & Recreation. I searched on microfilm and received 1,685 hits related to this search. I checked five of the hits at random and found each contained the term microfilm but not as its subject matter but indicating the item or www page located was also available from some source as microfilm (someone in Australia has been doing a good job capturing the content located at this site in microfilm format). Whether this site itself is being microfilmed for the same good reasons the content has been microfilmed I am unaware, but again a potential opportunity for an enterprising Microfilming Bureau.

The complements of the season to all.

Laurie Varendorff ARMA

The Author

Laurie Varendorff, ARMA, a former RMAA Western Australia Branch president and national director, has been involved in records management for 30 years. He has his own consulting and training business near Perth, Western Australia, and has tutored in recordkeeping and archival storage and preservation at Perth’s Edith Cowan University. Phone: +61 (0)8 9291 6925; mobile: 0417 094 147; email @ Laurie Varendorff

Please Note: This article was first produced in the publication - The GREEN SHEET - INCORPORATING THE MICROGRAPHICS MARKET PLACE AND THE MICROGRAPHICS NEWSLETTER - Issue No. 24 ISSN 1476-3842 December 2003 Edition on page (13).

The author, Laurie Varendorff gives permission for the redistribution or republishing of this article by individuals and non profit professional organisations without cost based on the condition that he as well as the URL of the article are recognised at the introduction of the article when redistributed or republished.

SPECIAL NOTE: Use of this article by publishers, commercial, government, or educational organisations requires a financial agreement to negotiated with Laurie as the copyright holder for this work.