You still use microfilm?

Now that I’m gainfully employed, I will let you in on a secret I carefully guarded during my days as an undergraduate history major–I avoided the microfilm room like the plague. I once changed the topic of a research paper to spare myself the trouble of clumsily fiddling with roll after roll of World War I era newspapers. “Why isn’t this all online?”

Space. Time. Money. This reformed “digital native” now understands that there are too many records and too few resources to put everything online, let alone make them accessible. Furthermore, after a few years of working in special collections and archives, I have learned through experience that microfilm is not scary or cumbersome as I had imagined. And for those offices that are lacking resources (and who isn’t?), microfilm is actually a great solution for preserving your essential records of enduring value (think  adoption records). These are the records that are listed as “permanent” on your Records Retention and Disposition Schedule.

Meeting minutes for any governing board or major decision-making boards and commissions in a municipality or county are permanent records, meaning they should be maintained in the office that created the records, forever.  State Law (G.S. §132-8.2) requires that permanent records also have a security preservation duplicate, which is either a paper or microfilm copy. Government Records provides security microfilming of these minutes.  Once the records are filmed, we will store the silver original in our security vault. There is a nominal fee for filming and duplicate film.  At present, we charge $15 a reel and each reel holds approximately 2400 letter-sized pages.

Microfilm is a legally acceptable replacement for original records, as outlined in G.S. §8-45.1 and §153A-436. Microfilm can be read with nothing more sophisticated than a magnifying glass.  There is no software to keep current.  Usually, deterioration in the film itself can be detected by visual inspection.

We have two processes to film minutes.  First, you can send photocopies of your approved minutes to us in the mail.  Alternatively, you can bring us your original books.  We will film them and return them to you.  This process is most useful when you have more minutes to film than you are willing to photocopy.  It is important to remember that a representative of your office or ours must transport the original books in person so that the custody of the records is maintained.  You should not mail or ship your original minutes. We will make every effort to expedite the filming so that your books will be returned to you as quickly as possible. For more detailed instructions, contact me at


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  1. Pingback: Electronic File to Microfilm (and back!) Conversion « The G.S. 132 Files

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