“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month,” Theodore Roosevelt
Don’t want to be that person? Then you may need to rethink your document preservation method.
Microfilm: The Best Document Preservation for Compliance
There’s no doubt that more data is being created, shared and stored than ever before thanks to digital technology. Any type of document can be generated using a multitude of devices including personal computers, mobile phones and tablets. More data creates more need for protection, security and preservation of documents that are most important to an organization. Are you using the correct document strategy to safeguard your critical documents?
Many government organizations, manufacturing companies and utilities must retain certain records for decades or even hundreds of years; historical documents, legal records, and documents necessary for the life of a product or process must be preserved. Often, document preservation in an eye-readable or analog form is necessary for legal compliance. According to a recent survey conducted by Tameran, most Ohio state and county governments are currently microfilming to fulfill a preservation mandate. They are responsible for maintaining the ability to access their records in a readable form.
Store vs. Preserve
Over the years, documents have been stored in various formats. You may store documents you are currently working with on a flash drive, thumb drive or in the cloud, but would you want to preserve your documents that way? Consider the readability or accessibility of documents preserved on perforated tape, magnetic tape, floppy disks or in file formats that no longer have software to interpret. CDs and DVDs will even soon be obsolete. The newest computers don’t often even provide for use of CDs or DVDs. Yes, there is a difference between storing and preserving.
True document preservation, whether for government or other establishments, is not in the cloud or on a CD, DVD or back-up server. Preservation needs to be in an analog form that is:
- Technology Independent
- Self-sustaining without need for constant migration
- Not vulnerable to hacking or decay
- Easily accessed – human readable and easily convertible to digital format for access and distribution
Digital formats (and digital archives), due to their very nature, cannot satisfy recommendations for document preservation as outlined by government laws and regulations that are similar to those contained in the Ohio Revised Code. Only microfilm or paper, eye-readable analog formats, have these desired characteristics.
Based on the results of our survey, county and state officials in the state of Ohio recognize a practical and statutory responsibility to maintain vital public records for a very long or indefinite period of time. The only way to assure access to documents for hundreds of years is to rely on an analog form. The majority choose microfilm, but nearly 20 percent of counties are relying exclusively on computer servers to preserve vital records.
Paper vs. Microfilm
Although paper and microfilm are eye-readable document forms, microfilm has a few important advantages over paper for document preservation.
- Microfilm has a longer life cycle (500 years) than normal paper (100 years)
- Microfilm costs less than making a paper copy
- Microfilm requires less than up 1% of the storage space that paper documents require; less storage space means lower storage costs
Tameran’s 35mm microfilm formats fit more documents per roll than 16mm microfilm further reducing filming and storage costs.
Document Preservation Issues in the National News
Current State department events have brought to light another issue with data, security and archiving compliance. According to an article in the The New York Times on March 14, 2015, government agencies are required to preserve anything that relates to official business no matter what form it is in. While President Obama’s directive in 2012 mandated that government agencies should retain and preserve email records electronically by 2016, many are still printing them out and saving the paper copies in files.
We recommend a hybrid solution of digital for document management and quick access and microfilm for preservation of vital records (such as the government emails or any documents that must be retained indefinitely).
While a digital archive can serve an important role in document management, it is not document preservation. Furthermore, when choosing between microfilm and paper, microfilm is the more permanent, compact and economical analog preservation method.
Tameran can help preserve your documents on microfilm easily and economically as part of your normal document management process by composing and developing it at the same time that documents are digitally created.
Are your documents properly preserved for the future or at risk in an outdated form or only on a back-up server? Do you satisfy a directive to preserve critical documents on microfilm? Don’t kick yourself in the pants. Contact Tameran to discuss how to preserve your critical documents.
You are also invited to download our full survey results: A Report on the Current and Future of Microfilm in State and County Government—Ohio.