Guidelines for Newspaper Preservation Microfilming

Newspapers are of great interest to a wide variety of library users as an indispensable record of all kinds of information on day to day life in a country or world-wide historical, economic, cultural facts or events. But a newspaper is also a self-destructing item as it is printed with low quality ink on poor quality paper, generally of large size. It may crumble away in twenty or thirty years, or even less, if packaging and storage conditions are not the best in order to preserve it from wear and tear, humidity, light, dust, pollution, etc. Therefore newspapers should be saved through the transfer of their contents to another medium, in other words to a 35mm unperforated polyester-base safety microfilm.

Many countries have already elaborated standards for preservation microfilming. In 1991, the International Standards Organisation (ISO) published an international standard on Micrographics – Microfilming of newspapers for Archival Purposes on 35mm Microfilm (ISO 4087, 2nd edition, 1991) The IFLA Round Table on Newspapers has decided to prepare a manual of basic Guidelines for Newspaper Preservation Microfilming, to provide practical assistance to assist to the great number of members of the library community who have a need for information on microfilming this difficult material.

However, exactly what does preservation microfilming mean? It refers to documents which are generally in, or are in danger of reaching, such a bad physical condition so that their transfer to another medium is necessary to save them from total destruction. Thus preservation microfilms should be the accurate image of the original document. A preservation microfilm is a substitute for the original, which may be stored far from the library and far from the wear and tear of use; in some cases the library may even decide to dispose of the original once it has been microfilmed.

Preservation microfilms should always be made in three generations:

  1. Master negative (1st generation), that is archival master copy;
  2. Internegative or working negative (2nd generation) to be used for producing further negative or positive copies;
  3. Duplicate or service film (3rd generation, normally made from the working negative) for library users.

It may be a duplicate positive or negative on silver halide film or on diazo film: positive film is normally considered as being more suitable for use on reading machines, negative film as better for use on reader-printers. Microfilms which are acquired instead of originals in printed form (e.g. subscription of newspapers on microfilm) for library users may therefore be either duplicate positives or duplicate negatives. Such microfilms may be the best solution in case of high cost storage space or lack of storage space, or to be sure to get a complete run of the newspaper.

Newspaper preservation microfilming is a complex task for the library, in particular with regard to activities prior and subsequent to the filming process itself. It is specialised work requiring experience, careful planning and the use of correct equipment for filming, fitting and storage. However, it should always be required for transfer of newspapers belonging to the National Collection which must be preserved from destruction. The Guidelines will aim a mean level for Newspaper Preservation Microfilming in order to be applicable for libraries without considerable resources. The Guidelines will follow international standards closely on all significant points. Microfilms that cannot meet the quality level recommended in these Guidelines should not be considered as preservation microfilms for archival purposes.

Compiled and Edited under the auspices of the IFLA Round Table on Newspapers and the IFLA Section on Serial Publications.
The Hague: IFLA Headquarters, 1996. 59p.; 29.5cm
(IFLA Professional Reports, No.49)
ISBN 90-70916-59-2
ISSN 0168-1931

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Guidelines, News Media, Microfilm

Last update: 11 July 2014