Special Collections Research Center

 HOURS for May 28, 2016:  Closed

Records Program


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, email For additional information about preservation issues, contact .

Microfilming Records

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 emailing  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.

Digital Imaging

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:

  • same documents used by many people simultaneously and/or in different locations
  • documents referred to frequently
  • quick access needed to documents
  • documents are easy to scan (uniform size, clear characters)

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:

  1. Public records which are permanent or whose vital retention status is ten years or greater: original documents of this type may not be destroyed without prior approval from KDLA. If you wish to petition KDLA for permission to destroy records of this nature, please see KDLA's Policy Memorandum on Optical Storage of Public Records.
  2. Public records which are not permanent or whose vital retention status is less than ten years: these records may be destroyed after entering them into a digital imaging system. Agencies are strongly advised, however, that meeting the criteria laid out for permanent records is critical to the acceptance of the records as valid documentation of agency transactions and is required for the admissibility of public records.

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:

  • notify Records Program staff that you are considering adopting a new system
  • start with a thorough planning phase: needs assessment, potential solutions, selection of system type and justification; if this process points to an imaging system as the proper system, all involved should become familiar with the KDLA Policy Memorandum on Optical Storage of Public Records
  • write a statement of purpose
  • design the system: keep in mind all criteria which must be satisfied in a petition to the State Archivist
  • during the system design phase, develop a detailed register of the record types which the system will incorporate and their retention periods as listed in the Model Schedule
  • develop the written petition to the State Archivist; if the proper effort has gone into planning and designing the system, the petition should be easy to pull together

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.

WARNING: Some websites to which these materials provide links for the convenience of users are not managed by the University of Kentucky. The University does not review, control, or take responsibility for the contents of those sites.

New Requests System

(March 31, 2016) The UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center has initiated a new online requests system allowing all our faculty, students, patrons, and visiting researchers to submit requests for materials, schedule a visit, or place digital reproduction and oral history orders through a custom web-based interface.

Create an account to get started.  All researchers visiting after March 31st will need to complete registration in their new account.

UK community members can login using their LinkBlue IDs while visitors can create their own login username and password. For more information, visit our FAQ.

Our Mission

Special Collections Research Center is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, Kentuckiana, the University Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press, the Bert T. Combs Appalachian Collection, and the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center.

The mission of the Special Collections Research Center is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic, and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Materials are acquired regardless of format and include both primary and secondary sources; Kentuckiana is collected comprehensively. Special Collections maintains the records management program for all records generated by the University and serves as its archival repository for permanent records. As part of the mission, the Special Collections Research Center advances and supports the research, teaching, and scholarship of the University and beyond by preserving and providing access to its holdings.

Associate Dean Deirdre A. Scaggs

Materials in Special Collections do not circulate.

Access to materials are provided through the Breckinridge Research Room.

Campus Mail Code: 0039

For Research or Collections-related Inquiries

Breckinridge Research Room
(859) 257-8611

Fax: (859) 257-6311


General Information

Mailing Address:
Special Collections Research Center
Margaret I. King Library
University of Kentucky Libraries
Lexington, KY 40506-0039

Delivery Address:
179 Funkhouser Drive
Margaret I. King Library
University of Kentucky Libraries
Lexington, KY 40506-0039

Emergency Vehicle Response Location:
179 Funkhouser