Microfilm readers

Image
Digital microfilm readers at Central Library

When doing historical or genealogy research, you might find that the document you need is only on microfilm or another microformat.

What is microfilm?

Microfilm contains tiny images of historical newspapers, magazines and other documents. Microfilm readers enlarge the images so that they can be read. You can print these images from the machines at the library.

Some magazines and newspapers are only available on microfilm at the library, but many are also available through the library’s online databases. These databases can sometimes be a better choice for your search.

What kinds of things are on microfilm?

Microfilm collections at the library include historical newspapers and classic magazines. There are also other microformats for vital records and government documents.

You might be able to borrow microfilm from libraries in other parts of the country through interlibrary loan. Sometimes this is the only way to read small local newspapers that could have obituaries or other bits of family history.

Using microfilm

If you aren’t looking for anything specific, you can browse historical periodicals of an era you are interested in and get a feeling for the concerns and attitudes of the day. You’ll find advertisements alongside articles.

If you’re looking for a specific article, you’ll need to scroll through the reel to the correct date. If you don’t know the exact date for the article that you are seeking, you might need to use an index to look it up. Usually this index is a book or an online resource.

Indexes are available at the library locations with microfilm readers. Library staff can help you with these.


Microfilm collections

There are microfilm readers and collections at two locations. 

Central Library 

  • Large collection of several hundred titles
  • Save, print or email images
  • Edit images by cropping and enhancing

Gresham Library

  • Small local collections related to the area such as the Gresham Outlook
  • Printing only

Borrow microfilm from other libraries through interlibrary loan.