The Ithaca College Library has received a grant that will allow it to replace dated equipment and revitalize and improve the viewing process for microfilm.
The South Central Regional Library Council awarded the library the Regional Bibliographic Databases and Interlibrary Resources Sharing Grant. The library received the grant for the purchase of a UScan digital microfilm/multi-format scanner to support the interlibrary loan program. The interlibrary loan program allows libraries to share materials with other libraries in the region.
Microfilm are reels of compressed images that can only be viewed through a scanner. The library currently has two 9-year-old machines for viewing different microform material, Ben Hogben, manager of access services at the college, said. One machine lets users view microfilm, microfiche and ultra fiche, and the other allows users to view cartridges. These machines will soon be replaced by one machine that can scan all of those materials.
In addition to replacing the old scanners, Hogben said, the new machine will not require users to manually focus the images.
“The machines we have now are kind of a manual process,” Hogben said. “The machine that we’re replacing them with is automatic.”
The college library is a member of the South Central Library Council, an organization that promotes learning, collaboration and innovation for member libraries. The council is made up of about 70 libraries across the south central region of New York State.
Each year, the South Central Regional Library Council awards the Regional Bibliographic Databases and Interlibrary Resource Sharing Grants to member libraries to benefit regional resource sharing and information technology. Mary-Carol Lindbloom, executive director of the council, said grants are given out to promote new technology and interlibrary sharing.
“There are state funds, and they’re used to support various information technology programs and projects,” Lindbloom said. “They’re for automation projects that somehow increase access to regional resources.”
Along with the college library, two other members received this year’s grant. The council also awarded $7,000 to The International Motor Racing Research Center at Watkins Glen to digitize 20 years of racing programs and race results. In addition to these projects, the council awarded $7,556 to the New York State Historical Society to digitize manuscripts from the 18th to 21st centuries.
The college library’s new multi-format scanner will help improve the interlibrary loan program at the college, because the scanner will be able to directly send images to other libraries, Hogben said.
“The new system that we’re getting can be integrated electronically with interlibrary loan,” Hogben said. “When a library requests a document from us we can pull it up, digitize it and send it electronically.”
Materials like microfilm are an important resource for the library. Bridget Bower, an archivist at the college, said microfilm is sometimes necessary when online resources are inaccessible because of copyright restrictions.
“Not often, but enough to be a problem, there’s something [online] that’s blocked out and says ‘see original microfilm for content,’” Bower said. “So the online version that we get through ProQuest is not complete, because there were copyright constraints.”
In the archives, microfilm is also used as a tool for preserving aging materials. The college archives hold microfilm copies of the Rod Serling Scripts, The Ithacan archives and some of the college’s permanent records. Bower said microfilm keeps materials organized and protects them from damage.
“It’s a preservation move, so there’s less touching, and the paper materials are likely to survive longer,” Bower said. “If somebody wants to use Serling, I don’t have to worry about pages getting out of order, pages disappearing or pages getting creased.”