Microforms: Home


Microform is a generic term that refers to materials, whether transparent or opaque, that require magnification in order to be read.  At the Marriott Library we use the term to refer to three different formats:  microfiche, microfilm and microopaque.  The principal attraction of microforms is their compact nature -- the full text of a 700-page book can be printed on a single sheet only three inches high and five inches wide.  Although that is an extreme example, you get the general idea -- microforms take up a lot less space than the same works printed on paper.  It shouldn't surprise you, then, to learn that the Marriott Library actually has more items in microform than it does in paper.

Our microform collection covers a wide variety of subjects, but the largest component consists of publications of various agencies of the federal government.  To explore the collection, click on the tabs towards the top of this page.

History of Microfilm

For some background on the history of microfilm, visit this online exhibition:


Most of the library's microfiche collection is located in cabinets at the south end of Level 2, at the beginning of the book stacks, and is self-serve (though we are happy to help you find what you need).  Most of the microfilm collection is housed in the ARC [Automated Retrieval Center], the library's on-site high-density storage facility, and each reel must be requested individually.  Once retrieved from the ARC (usually within 10 to 15 minutes) microfilm is delivered to the Reserve Desk on Level 2.  Most of the microopaque collection is also housed in the ARC.

Some of our microforms can be found in the Microforms Reference Collection, just to the right of the microform readers in the Knowledge Commons.  These are generally titles that were issued in binders or other permanent housing designed to sit on a bookshelf.


Due to the greatly reduced size of the image, special equipment is required to read microforms.  While more and more of what we have in microform is becoming available online, it will probably be quite some time before much of it is available for the Kindle or other portable readers.  For those items that aren't readily available in another format, the Marriott Library has five machines available to the public that make it possible to read and to save digital images from microforms.  Four of these machines are located on the south side of the Knowledge Commons on Level 2, and the other is in the Special Collections Reading Room on Level 4.

Konica Minolta MS6000 MKII (two in the Knowledge Commons, one in Special Collections)

These machines will read both microfiche and microfilm.  For just reading, there is no need to use the attached computer.  In order to do scanning and saving or printing from microforms, you will need to log on to the computer, where we have three software packages intended for the purpose:  Adobe Acrobat Pro, OmniPage and IrfanView.

e-ImageData ScanPro 2000 (in the Knowledge Commons)

This machine will read all three of our microform formats (microfiche, microfilm and microopaque).  It requires users to log on to the attached computer, even just for reading.  Information on using this machine can be found in the guide below.



ScanPro User Guide

For assistance

Robert Behra's picture
Robert Behra
Faculty Services Coordinator
Research and User Services
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah
295 S 1500 E
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0860

Office: 2110K

fax: 801-581-3464

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