Skip to content

Microform rewind

January 27, 2015
Screen shot of a Library reference video, created circa 1987-1989 on VHS for the Library's Public Services Department. Digitized and uploaded by UTSA Libraries Special Collections as part of UA 05.02.

Screen shot of a Library reference video, created circa 1987-1989 on VHS for the Library’s Public Services Department. Digitized and uploaded by UTSA Libraries Special Collections as part of UA 05.02.

Special Collections staff have been contributing to the Libraries’ instructional outreach by introducing students to basic archival research for years now. Our efforts include things like creating research guides, reference assistance (virtual and in-person), and taking part in library instruction. During an instruction section last week, I realized that many students in the room were unfamiliar with microform, a method of preserving and duplicating textual documents and printed material. Evidently microform (aka microfilm, if its on a film reel) has lost popularity among scholarly researchers as digitization has become the most popular method of copying materials and making them accessible.

Microform has an interesting history (which you can peruse in this Wikipedia article) and is still widely used as a method of accessing research materials. Those of us familiar with the process of using microfilm likely remember the clicking, whirring, fast-spinning screens, and the abundance of knobs and switches associated with research (for a flashback, check out this video produced by the Library’s Public Services Department in the late 80s). While online research and digitized, fully text-searchable content is the new norm, it is important to remember that not all archival materials have been digitized (or ever will be digitized!). Some content may not yet be digitized, but could be available in microform, making this an excellent option for research.

UTSA Libraries maintains many microform collections, which are open and accessible at the John Peace Library and the Downtown Campus. Special Collections also maintains microfilm collections, including newspaper runs relevant to San Antonio’s history (available for viewing at our HemisFair Park/ITC reading room) and archival microfiche copies of older UTSA theses & dissertations.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Julianna Barrera-Gomez permalink*
    May 15, 2017 11:24 am

    Fun fact: the instructor in this video is UTSA Libraries’ very own Jennifer Gibbons, who was then leading the Microforms unit. After more than 20 years of service she plans to retire this month. So glad we have a video of her delivering reference instruction with a smile : ) We wish you the best, Jennifer!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: