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Finding & Using Microforms

What are microforms?

Microforms are special formats designed to save space as well as to economically preserve the content of decaying paper materials.

There are two main types of microforms: microfiche and microfilm. Microfiche is a rectangular sheet of film containing rows of pages in reduced form. A typical microfiche can hold 100 pages of text. Microfilm is rolled film (on a plastic or metal reel) with a single row of pages in reduced form. An average roll of microfilm holds hundreds of pages of text.

Biddle Law Library has a strong collection of microform titles, including major collections of U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs, U.S Congressional hearings, legal newspapers, early state court decisions, and UN, EC and GATT documents.

How do I find microforms in Biddle?

There are two ways. You can find microform materials using the online catalog or just by browsing.

LOLA, Biddle’s online catalog, has records for microforms as well as hard copy and electronic materials. Search by keyword, title or author. Microform materials will have “Fiche” or “Film” at the beginning of the call number.

Where are microforms kept in Biddle?

Microforms are stored in the Microforms Room (T-216), located on the second floor of Tanenbaum Hall. From the main entrance to the Library, go to your left and then make another left.

How is the Microforms Room arranged?

Microfiche and microfilm are stored separately in the same broad categories, with fiche in the center of the room and film along the wall to your left. The cabinets are further divided by call numbers, such as “Per” for periodicals, “Fed” or “State” for federal or state materials, and general call numbers as indicated in the online catalog.

Steps to using microfiche in Biddle:

  1. Using LOLA, identify what you need. Note the call number and go to the Microform Room.
  2. Pick up a “microfiche in use” card from the top of one of the cabinets.
  3. Locate the title and fiche card you need. While pulling the fiche out of the drawer, slide the “microfiche in use” card into the same place.
  4. Take the fiche to the microform reader/printer just outside the Room.
  5. Turn on the reader using the switch on the front of the machine. The printer switch is on the right side.
  6. Pull the gray fiche tray out and to the right. Pull it out far enough for the glass to pop up. Place fiche in tray.
  7. Push the tray in and move it left or right until the image appears on the screen; use the “image rotation” knob if necessary to turn the image.
  8. To print, line up the desired page within the marks on the screen which indicate the target zone for copying; press the “print” button. If the copy is not satisfactory, contact the Reference Librarian or switch to the other machine.
  9. When finished, turn off the machine, pull back the tray, and pull out the fiche.
  10. Place the fiche in the “Return Microfiche Here” box inside the door of the Microforms Room. Please do not re-file the fiche.

Steps to using microfilm in Biddle:

  1. Using LOLA, identify what you need. Note the call number and go to the Microform Room.
  2. Locate the title and roll of film you need.
  3. Take the film to the microform reader/printer just outside the Room.
  4. Turn on the reader using the switch on the front of the machine.The printer switch is on the right side.
  5. Push the gray fiche tray to the left.
  6. Please: 1) make sure the film comes off the top of the reel and 2) be certain that the reel has been placed all the way onto the reel shaft.
  7. The “loading key” may need to be pressed more than once to take up enough leader tape.
  8. The large knob at the right controls the direction and speed of film movement.
  9. Use the “image rotation” knob if necessary to turn the image.
  10. To print, line up the desired page within the marks on the screen which indicate the target zone for copying. Press the “print” button. If the copy is not satisfactory, contact the Reference Librarian or switch to the other machine.
  11. Do not advance the film so that it detaches from the left-hand spool or it may be impossible to rewind the reel.
  12. When finished, rewind the film, turn off the machine, pull the reel off the machine and return it to its box.
  13. Place the box next to the “Return Microfiche Here” metal box inside the door of the Microforms Room. Please do not re-file the film.
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