Microform Magic with the ViewScan II

Professor Frederick with the ViewScan II

If you have used the microform readers of the past, you may remember having to squint to see poor quality images and putting a substantial amount of effort into reading the material. Our new ViewScan II digital microform reader adds digital magic* to your microforms! The ViewScan II allows you to edit and crop frames, resulting in content that possibly looks better than when it was first printed back in 1900 (or whenever)!

Associate Professor of History, Jake Frederick, has been visiting the Mudd Library to use the ViewScan II quite often as he prepares for a publisher’s deadline. After trying to read a microfilm reel for years on machines at other libraries, Professor Frederick was ecstatic to discover how readable the ViewScan II made his microfilm copy of a document from the 18th century.

Here is what he had to say about his experiences with the ViewScan II:

Normally using microfilm is like trying to read badly printed newsprint in a moving car at night. It’s blurry, dark, never focuses on the whole page at the same time, and is likely to make you seasick. I have had some microfilm sitting in my office for the last nine years that I could hardly bring myself to look at because it’s usually so terrible to use. The new scanner in the library is awesome. It has literally taken away everything that made using microfilm awful. I can’t believe how much better it is.

Interlibrary Loan Assistant Andrew McSorley has noticed a number of students, many of whom have never used microfilm technology in the past, have become quite comfortable with using microforms on the ViewScan II. Andrew explained, “With the ViewScan, otherwise rare items on old-fashioned media can now be sifted through easily on state-of-the-art, intuitive technology. Basically, between ILL and this microfilm reader, there are now far fewer barriers between our students and access to just about any material they could think of.”

In addition to editing, the ViewScan II allows patrons to save microform images (from microfilm reels, microcard, etc.) to a USB flash drive, or to print directly to the nearby laser printer. If you’d like to use the ViewScan II, the Mudd has a variety of microform materials, including The New York Times newspaper dating from 1851, as well as the Milwaukee Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel starting from 1884.

Have questions about using microforms? Contact our friendly reference librarians, or ask us at the reference desk!

*No actual magic is used in this machine, however the technology is quite useful.