About microforms

Microforms are archival quality materials upon which are printed miniature reproductions of anything from newspapers and government records to antique books and personal correspondence. Entire libraries' worth of material can be shrunk down to fit into a few cabinets, which created amazing research opportunities at a time before computer databases were pragmatic.

Unfortunately, microforms are usually in black and white and require special equipment to use.

on a yellow background, a tan reel of microfilm with some of it spooled out, and a red microfilm box.
on the left, microfiche in their envelopes fanned out. on the right and overlapping them, a single sheet of microfiche outside of its envelope displaying rows of small back images
sheets of microcard fanned out. each is about 5" x 4" and white with rows of tiny pages printed in black ink on them.
A sheet of white microprint, about 10" x 6" with rows of little pages printed in black ink. Behind it, more of them are sticking out of the top of their red storage case.

Finding microforms

Typically, you would find microforms the same way you would find other materials: in IUCat. Some collections require additional guides to understand. For help, ask at the service desk or see our Guides to Microforms page.

Microform readers/scanners

Old microform machines tended to be awkward machines that were difficult to get good prints from. Our modern machines require a computer to use, but are much more powerful and reliable. They don't do direct printing, but create PDFs (and other formats) that you can do anything you please with, including print.

The ViewScanII is a gray box with another, narrow long box sitting on top. Off to each side of the long narrow box is a spindle which you put microfilm on.

This is one of our new ViewScan machines. If you are not affiliated with the university, you can still obtain a guest account and use them anyway.

Circulation and Inter-Library Loan

We make our collection available to other institutions through Inter-library Loan. You are welcome to use our machines for borrowed or personally-owed microforms.

Services and costs

Self-service scans are free, and IU students, faculty and staff can print using their print quotas. Non-IU affiliated patrons can purchase a print quota at the UITS help desk in the Information Commons (1st floor, West Tower).

We will also scan articles for you, if you use Request Article Delivery, a service available to IU affiliates.

For further information, please contact us at libgimms@indiana.edu.

Return to Government Information, Maps, and Microform Services.