Massive Microfilm Inventory Underway

Crowley Imaging will inspect and label more than a million rolls of microfilm as part of a large inventory project.
Crowley Imaging will inspect and label more than a million rolls of microfilm as part of a large inventory project.

Crowley Imaging recently began a year-long project to inventory, barcode and inspect an archival collection of 75 years-worth of government microfilm records located in an underground mine in Pennsylvania. The inventory and inspection process will generate an accurate collection listing of over one million reels of microfilm along with a corresponding barcode database that describes 25 different characteristics of each film reel including the record name, years contained, film types and length of each roll. The resulting information will support the government agency’s multi-year project to digitize the microfilm records by using 36 Crowley-manufactured Mekel MACH10 microfilm scanners.

The massive microfilm collection is housed in a secure, climate-controlled underground office/campus facility that encompasses 250 acres and 27 miles of roads that are 250 feet (or 11 stories) below ground. Crowley staff members who work in the facility must walk a half mile each way from the above-ground parking in order to reach the film archive site. Once inside the site, the underground facility – previously a limestone mine – is without cellphone or internet connection.

The film storage areas that Crowley staff work in consist of 158 rows of storage cabinets and shelving racks containing close to a half million storage containers.

reader printer
Dottie DeMarchi prepares microfilm canisters for barcode labeling.

The on-site team is led by project manager Larry DeMarchi and consists of Ronald Murdick, Matt Boozel, Dotty DeMarchi and Steve Shimshock and is scheduled to grow to a peak staff of ten. As of the first week in February, the team has inventoried 147 million feet of film which is the equivalent of 27,841 miles…or once around the earth and beginning the second trip. When complete, the team will have inventoried an estimated 43,000 miles of microfilm.

UPDATE: This project was successfully completed on September 1, 2017 and is headed toward the next step of collection digitization. To read more about the project, click to the latest blog post. To learn more about why today’s microfilm collections are deteriorating and what can be done, read this informational white paper authored by Crowley Imaging specialist Dave Westcott. 

About Crowley Imaging

For more information on the microfilm collection management, digitization, hosting or scanners offered by Crowley Imaging, please visit our website or call (240) 215-0224. General inquiries can be emailed to [email protected]. Stay connected and follow The Crowley Company on FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInPinterest and YouTube.

This blog post was authored by Dave Westcott, Crowley Company senior imaging consultant and chief advisor on this inventory project.

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