There are times when an office may wish to reformat its records -- that is, to reproduce them in another medium, such as photographic film or CD-ROM. An office may wish to create a backup of vital records, to reduce its storage requirements, or to provide multiple points of access to the same document. Knowing when to reformat and what format to use is a complex process. To get you started, here is some basic information about formats commonly used for records management. For more details about university or state policies, call (859) 257-5257. For additional information about preservation issues, contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
KRS 171.450 gives specific guidelines to follow when microfilming permanent records. If you intend to destroy the original format of a permanent record, you must use a microfilm laboratory certified by the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives and store a security copy of the film at the State Archives. Permanent records cannot be destroyed until you are notified that the microfilmed copy has met certification standards. Before considering a reformatting project, please contact University Archives and Records Program by email at email@example.com or by phone at (859) 257-5257. Instructions to ensure the preservation of the University's records will be discussed.
Microfilm v. Microfiche v. Microfilm Jackets: What's What?
Archival quality microfilm is 16mm or 35mm silver halide, polyester-base roll film. This medium will last hundreds of years if properly prepared and stored. Silver halide provides the clearest and most precise image. Polyester is the most durable film base. Roll format provides greater protection of the images.
Other microformats include microfiche and microfilm jackets. Microfiche is 4" x 6" sheets of miniature film images. Microfilm jackets are created by inserting sections of film cut from 16mm rolls into 4" x 6" fiche-like sleeves. Jackets are updateable, a particularly nice feature for offices that have records that accumulate sporadically over long periods of time. Medical records are a good example of these types of records.
Neither microfiche nor microfilm jackets are considered an archival medium. There is the potential for information loss during the cutting and loading process; microfiche can easily be scratched, mutilated or lost; fiche is prepared in a fashion that does not meet archival processing standards; and both microfiche and microfilm jackets can be misfiled as easily as paper. Both formats, however, can be used in offices as a "use" copy if the original paper records are retained or if an uncut, silver halide, polyester-based original (master negative) is created and stored.
Finally, Diazo and vesicular film processes are cheaper to produce; however, their image quality is not as precise or stable as silver halide's. Diazo and vesicular microformats are used frequently for formatting non-permanent records. When the goal is to save physical space and to store information cheaply for a short period of time, diazo and vesicular film formats are the most economical choices.
Electronic document imaging, or digital imaging, is the process of creating computer-readable image file copies of records. This is generally done by scanning paper documents directly or scanning microfilm of those documents. The image files are then stored on a computer hard disk, optical disk, or other storage medium. The images must then be indexed to facilitate file searching and retrieval. There are emerging standards for document imaging, but the field is still developing at a fast pace. Those who may be interested in developing digital imaging systems for their UK records should contact the Records Program ((859) 257-5257) for assistance with the planning and development process.
Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives provides more information concerning digital imaging at Imaging Technologies and Recordkeeping.
UARP supports the judicious use of imaging. Circumstances under which a digital imaging system may be appropriate:
In its Policy Memorandum on Optical Storage of Public Records, the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA) outlines the ways in which state agencies may use imaging systems while complying with state record-keeping statutes. The KDLA Policy Memorandum has two basic points which UK units must keep in mind:
Any UK unit which develops an imaging system that involves the destruction of original documents before the completion of their retention period will become responsible for the maintenance of those image files. This includes permanent records. In other words, once a unit has committed itself to the retention of image files, it will be responsible for preserving and providing access to those files for as long as the records must be retained. In certain cases, the University Archives will request that copies of imaged records be transferred to the archives.
In order to help UK units develop imaging systems which will support compliance with Public and Open records statutes and stand the test of time, the Records Program suggests that units considering adopting optical imaging systems follow these steps:
Throughout this process the Records Program will offer its support in interpreting KDLA policies and developing the petition to KDLA. The Records Program stresses the importance of proper planning and design for such a system. Because of the challenges inherent in maintaining permanent records in electronic form, such a commitment should not be made unless it is clearly the best option available.
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