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Microfilm Questions and Answers

The following questions/answers should cover the most common questions. The Questions and Answers section may be added to from time to time, so please check this section periodically.

If you have a question that is not answered here, contact Records Management at or call (573) 882-5955. 

Q. What are the different microfilm formats and how do you determine which format to use?

A. There are five (5) source document microfilm formats. The format to use is influenced by the type of records and how you use them.

  1. Roll (Open Spool): The roll is called "open spool" because the film is rolled on a reel. The roll format is normally used for materials such as historical manuscripts, newspapers, or any other records that have to be kept for long periods of time with little expected usage.
  2. Roll (Cartridge): The "cartridge" is roll film placed inside a special container (cartridges). The cartridge is normally used for records where there is a need for easy and fast retrieval. These may include accounts payable vouchers and invoices, checks, or records that are in some numerical or logical sequence for easy retrieval.
  3. Jackets: Jackets are a unitized format that are normally used for records that average 40 or more images per folder and may require updating at various times. Jackets come in a variety of sizes and are available for both 16mm and 35mm microfilm. The standard size 4x6 inch jacket, can hold up to 60 images. Jackets work well for student records, medical records or other records containing a considerable number of images. The jacket is similar in function to the file folder, and can be used in the same manner.
  4. Aperture Cards (16mm): Aperture cards are a unitized format that are normally used for records that average 25 or fewer documents per folder and may require updating at various times. The aperture card looks like the computing tab card except with channels to insert microfilm images. It works well with smaller student records or medical records files.
  5. Aperture Cards (35mm): 35 mm aperture cards are used to hold engineering draws and maps. There is only one image per card. There is very little use of this format at the University.

Q. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different microfilm formats?

A. The advantages and disadvantages of each format are:

  1. Roll (Open Spool): The advantages of the roll are the lower cost because less labor and supplies are required in production.
        The disadvantages are the retrieval rate is slow, its very hard to update, and only one person at a time can see the images covered by the roll of film.
  2. Roll (Cartridge): The advantages of the cartridge are the availability of self-threading microfilm readers and rapid retrieval of information if indexed properly.
        The disadvantages of the cartridge are it´s not easily updated, time and cost of indexing, cost of the cartridges and microfilm readers are reasonably expensive.
  3. Jackets: The advantages of jackets are it permits updating by adding images to the jackets, permits interfiling of the jackets regardless of when produced, jackets can be color coded to enhance filing, and permits access to the files by multiple people.
        The disadvantages of jackets are higher product cost because of greater labor and supply cost, limited file integrity because jackets can be removed and lost, or can be misfiled.
  4. Aperture Cards (16mm): The advantages of the 16mm aperture card are the ability to update by adding images to the card, permits interfiling of the cards regardless of when produced, can be machine addressed, notes and information can be penciled on the card and can be color coded to improve filing, and permits access to the files by multiple people.
        The disadvantages of aperture cards are the higher labor and supply cost, and limited file integrity because the cards can be lost or misfiled.
  5. Aperture Cards (35mm): The advantages of the 35mm aperture card are it can be machined addressed, has space for making notes, can be interfiled, and can be color coded to improve filing.
        The disadvantages of a 35mm aperture card are the high cost of readers and reader-printers and cards cannot be updated as they only contain space for one image.

Q. How do I get records to the Vendor?

A. You can pay the Vendor to pick up the records, ship the records by courier to the Kansas City or St. Louis campus and have the Vendor pick up the records, ship the records by UPS or other commercial means, or have someone within your department transport the records to the Vendor. You should always contact the Vendor before shipping any records because they may already have a trip scheduled to your campus in the near future.

Q. How are records returned to me?

A. Records are to be returned in the same boxes you shipped the records in. You can pay the Vendor to return the records, have them shipped commercially to you, have someone from your department pick them up, or have the Vendor take the boxes to the Kansas City or St. Louis courier drop.

Q. How do I know if the records I shipped were received by the Vendor?

A. Call the Vendors and tell them you have or are shipping so many boxes of records and ask them to call when the boxes are received.

Q. Who pays for the microfilm work?

A. Each department is responsible for paying the cost of any microfilming work they have done. Departments may have purchase orders issued to the Vendor or pay by Procurement Card.

Q. How much time is given the Vendor to complete a microfilm project?

A. The time frame for the Vendor to complete a project, is the time period agreed to between the department and the Vendor.

Q. Why is all original camera microfilm returned to Records Management rather than the department?

A. All original camera microfilm is returned to Records Management to ensure the original film is retained in a secure, safe environment. A central location guarantees the University will have the information contained on the film if it is needed in the future.

Q. If I need to change the current specifications for a microfilm project, can I do this?

A. Yes. Contact the Vendor you are doing business with.

Q. If I'm having problems with the quality of the work done by a Vendor and unable to resolve the problems, who do I contact within the University for help?

A. Contact the Director of Records Management.

Q. Who do I contact if I need additional microfilm duplicates?

A. If the need is within 30 working days of when the original microfilming work was completed, the Vendor will still have the original camera film to make the additional duplicates.

If the need is after the 30-working day period, contact Records Management to secure the original camera film. Records Management will return the original film to you, so you can forward it to the Contractor for duplication. When the original camera film is returned to you, you will need to forward it to Records Management for storage.

To retrieve the original camera film, you will need to provide the Records Management staff the following information: campus, department name and address, the title/name of the records on the microfilm, dates of the records, and name of a contact person.

Reviewed 2024-03-07