Despite increasing interest in new technologies, preservation microfilming remains an established and valued strategy for producing copies of deteriorated paper-based collections.
Since the late 1980s, a national Brittle Books Program, funded through the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), has been in place, using preservation microfilming to produce master microfilms of deteriorated books. Overall, microfilm is an important preservation strategy for collections that have greater informational value than artifactual value and for those with such tremendous artifactual value and/or fragility that they should not be routinely handled by researchers.
While microfilm is no longer the most user-friendly medium for access, it is the product of a tested technology governed by clear standards and guidelines. It provides a master copy from which relatively inexpensive duplicates can be easily made. And unlike digital media, which cannot be read without computer access, microfilm can be read by the naked eye with only a light source and magnification.
Properly produced and stored preservation microfilm has a lifespan of about 500 years.