Microfilm Repair and Duplication for the University of Michigan Libraries


University of Michigan Library
Ann Arbor

With the library's patrons in need of access to resources only available on damaged microfilm, the University of Michigan contacted Backstage to assist with repair and duplication of some of their older rolls.

"Some of our microfilm dates back to a time when there was little understanding about the short life expectancy of acetate film compared to the longevity and preservation aspects of polyester film.

"For brittle acetate film, simple splicing may not be enough. The option to have the film bridged together and then copied onto polyester provides a long-term solution."

Shannon Zachary
Head, Department of Preservation & Conservation
University of Michigan Library


The library's challenges prior to contacting Backstage:

  • The library's in-house microfilming operation gave up its equipment in 2002.
  • Library resources still included microfilm, however some rolls were older, damaged, and deteriorating acetate.
  • Film damage included brittle texture, tears, long slits, film strips torn in half, jagged tears, and amateur tape splicing.
  • If the library removed the taped splices, they would run the risk of losing images and text due to very limited inter-frame spacing.
  • Another challenge included film with one portion polyester and another portion acetate.
  • Inconsistent image reading on spliced film. On one half, the correct reading of text was on the emulsion side, on the other half, the base of the film contained the right reading.
    If duplicated as is, one half would have been completely out
    of focus.
  • Catalog contained nearly 2 million bibliographic records and
    1 million authority records with a mix of both AACR2 and RDA


Backstage provided the following services:

  • Repaired old damaged acetate and duplicated reels onto preservation grade polyester.
  • Butterfly splices were used to repair long tears and positive copies were created.
  • Repaired amateur splicing with butterfly splices.
  • Cut film where polyester met acetate, duplicated individually for correct reading, re-spliced two parts together, then created new duplicates.
  • Other splicing was kept due to the proximity of text.


Results for the library and its patrons:

  • Preservation of historical data for future generations.
  • Legible text on new microfilm allows for more effective research.
  • Patrons are able to make use of the microfilm resources.
  • The library was pleased with Backstage's ability to quickly repair, duplicate, and return quality rolls in a short turnaround time.

University of Michigan Library | lib.umich.edu

Backstage offers a full range of services for your microfilm collections, from microfilm creation, processing, and duplication, to climate-controlled storage and even digitization. How can we help with your microfilm. Call us at 1.800.288.1265 or send us a note.

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