Conducting Library Research

Microfilm and Microfiche

Most libraries have microfilm and/or microfiche records. This technology puts a large amount of print material, such as whole newspapers and magazines, on durable strips of film that fit into small boxes or on a set of plastic sheets the size of index cards. Two weeks of the New York Times, for instance, can be put on a spool of microfilm designed to be fed through a manually operated machine designed so that readers may progress at a pace that suits them. In many cases full-sized pages can be selected, copied and printed.

In addition to newspapers and magazines, many libraries have other primary source material in microform format. For example, the American Culture Series reproduces books and pamphlets published between 1493 and 1875. Colonial-era religious tracts or nineteenth-century abolitionist pamphlets can be examined without having to travel to a museum or view a rare books collection. Likewise, the American Women's Diaries collection provides rare firsthand glimpse of the past through reproductions of diaries kept by women living in New England and the South, as well as pioneer women traveling west.

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