UK Archiving


Archival quality microfilm offers reassurance that the image on the film will be legible far into the future. No other media offers this level of confidence and re-assurance. We define archival microfilm as that which meets the demands of either the National Preservation Office Guide to Microfilming (aka Mellon Microfilming Project Guidelines (prevalent in the UK) or the RLG Standards (in the USA).

The main advantages of microfilm are:
It has a potential life of 500 years, way beyond any other comparable format.

Microfilm is robust, reliable, cost-effective and provides a solid foundation for scanning to other media.

Microfilm does not require sophisticated equipment for reading and access.

We are very confident that archival microfilm has a continued place as the mainstay of preservation media in the future.

Our Microfilming Service
Since our foundation we have established ourselves as a centre of microfilming excellence. All microfilm produced by us is 35mm, of archival quality and silver halide.

By observing every relevant BSI/ISO Standard, including the requirements of the National Preservation Office Guide to Microfilming (aka Mellon Microfilming Project's Guidelines) on Archival Microfilming, we are confident that our microfilm is of the highest quality in the UK.

Visit our gallery for an illustrated guide to the microfilming process.

UK Archiving employs staff trained in conservation to carefully prepare all collections prior to filming. All our processes and materials conform to preservation standards.

Preparation includes:

  • Pagination check
  • Cleaning, dusting and ironing (Current Newspapers Only)
  • Identification and location of missing issues and pages
  • Repairs (with the approval of the commissioning body)

In some cases we advise that certain volumes be dis-bound to create the best possible reproduction of the original. UK Archiving can supply customers with made-to-measure acid-free storage boxes for their collections, constructed in the bindery of the National Library of Scotland.

UK Archiving works with specialist cameras and equipment designed for the archival microfilming of paper-based collections, guaranteeing the best possible image of every collection. We are able to work with all sizes and formats, and with collections that have damaged or have tight binding. We meet every quality standard for density and resolution.

The equipment used is designed for archival microfilming. All our cameras, processor, duplicator, densitometer, ultra-sonic splicer and microscope are regularly maintained and calibrated. Book cradles are used at all times to minimise damage and collections are filmed under glass. We have a programme of replacement and assessment of all equipment we use.

We test the chemistry of our processor once per day. Residual Thiosulphate test (also known as a Methylene Blue test), to BSI 1153:1992, and a Quality Control test are carried out by Kodak on a monthly basis.

In everything we do, we are guided by the fact that we are responsible for preserving the nation's heritage by producing a high quality product.

Storage of Film
Microfilm is supplied on chemically inert archival reels with built in trailer-locks to prevent film being wound off the reel thereby jamming the reading machinery. Film is stored in archival boxes which are acid and lignin free and is held on the reel by paper tags that are also acid-free.

When we preserve an item on archival microfilm we create three reels of film.

Master Negative
This is the most important film, in that it gives the newspaper a preservation life of at least 500 years. Our Master Negatives are stored by the National Library of Scotland on behalf of the nation in a store that meets the requirements of BS 1153:1992

Copy (or Printing) Negative
This second negative film is made from the Master and is stored at our premises in West Edinburgh.

Working Positive
This is the film used by our customers.

The process of creating a Master Negative, Copy Negative and Working Positive is the only acceptable process for the creation of microfilm with archival quality.

UK Archiving is a founding member of the Disaster Recovery Programme run by Kodak. This scheme allows for any film produced by us and damaged in a disaster to be transported to the USA, recovered and repaired and returned to the UK. Kodak supplies expert staff and meets all costs, except the transportation of the reels to the USA.