I would like to suggest the re-installment of at least one of the older-model microfilm readers. As of recently, there were three newer machines (with scanning capabilities) and the one older machine. That machine was recently replaced with a newer model, exactly like the surrounding three. The older machine was great because you could print directly from it rather than leaning over to one of the computers, go through all of the "scan to PDF" rigamarole, and then walk over to the printer to retrieve the document. It even cost less to print from the old machine (8 cents per page as opposed to 11 cents on the newer ones). The old machine also had the reel number counting feature which the newer machines don't have. The number counter was great because it let you know where you stopped on the reel so that you could pick up where you left off next time. On the newer machines, you have to fast forward blindly until you get there, often stopping at the wrong place many times before arriving at the right spot. I am an alumni (class of 2001) and have been utilizing the readers on the third floor regularly for the past 3 years. The VCU library has been a wonderful place to research my particular interests (jazz history and African-American culture during the 1950s-1960s). My experiences as a researcher are, of course, based most soundly on the sources themselves, but are also greatly affected by the access to those sources, an accessibility that has been hampered, not improved, by the obsoletion of the old microfilm readers. Thanks for your time!
From: Ben, Alumni
Nell Chenault, Access Librarian and Head, Media & Reserve Services replies…
We are pleased that you utilize VCU Libraries’ microform resources for continued scholarship, and we welcome your constructive comments about our equipment resources. Our recent microform station upgrades came as a response to user concerns with the operation and poor quality prints of the old reader / printers and research options offered with scanning. While the new microform scanners have lost the simplicity of a quick print, the user gains quality, flexibility and efficiency in other areas.
We are glad to let you know that VCU will be reducing printing costs for the Fall 2006 semester. These new fees will bring the price below the former microform printing price, a value we are sure the VCU community can appreciate.
In addition to printing on-site, users now have the option to save the document – a feature that is popular with VCU users for image clarity and as a way to avoid printing prices altogether. Users may choose to email the document to themselves or a colleague or save to disk, jump drive or VCU’s Blackboard Content System. File type options include pdf or any image format such as jpg or gif. The text recognition feature of pdf’s allows word search of your document. There is also an improvement in reading and viewing with zoom or high resolution images.
The new stations also offer operational advantages including easier film carrier loading, no paper jams and elimination of toner replacement. As an advantage during heavy use periods, these new stations rarely breakdown. The smooth transport system reduces scratches and tears, thereby extending the life and quality of our microfilm collection.
We are investigating the loss of the counter feature for repeat microfilm users. The film revolution counter is no longer offered by Konica Minolta; they suggested a sprocket counter. We will look into adding this feature in the future.
If you are having difficulties with utilizing any of the features on these new stations, please do not hesitate to ask for assistance from the Media and Reserve Services staff.