Citing Microfilm & Microfiche



3 October 2014

Filmed and fiched materials at a library or archive can carry two identification systems: 1) the identification created by the producer; and 2) the cataloging data created by the library.

  • If the film or fiche has been published, then it is cited the way we would cite a book. It has a creator, a title, and publication data. It likely is a multi-roll set, in which case it is treated the same as a multi-volume book. For a book, we would cite volume number and page number; for film, we would cite roll number and frame number; for fiche, we would cite card and image number. If the microfilm does not have numbered frames, then we study the material to decide how best to identify the specific item we are using.
  • If the film or fiche has not been published and it's created by that library or archive itself as a preservation copy, then we identify it as the creation of that repository, we use whatever title the repository has assigned and, instead of publication data, we cite the identification numbers assigned by that repository.

Sometimes, the film or fiche we use will be a preservation copy created by Repository A, who has given a copy to Repository B—the site at which we actually use it. That gets trickier. EE 9.38 provides a fuller discussion and examples.


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hondodfw's picture
What do you mean by "If the

What do you mean by "If the film or fiche has been published"? Most if not all articles on microfilm or microfiche at a library has been published because they are usually newspaper articles.

Greg Robertson

EE's picture

Greg, my apologies for not responding to your question. Somehow, it slipped in unseen.

EE discusses at length the differences between "published vs. unpublished" at 2.18 and 2.27. These two sections lay the groundwork for our use of filmed and fiched versions of the different types of records discussed in later chapters.

Libraries do have many types of materials in microform, other than newspapers. But, with regard to newspapers: Yes, the original newspapers are published. But if we use a microform version of a newspaper at a library, we have not used the actual newspaper. We used a roll of film or a fiche card. What is imaged on that film or card may or may not be exactly the same as the original version of the paper. It may be more or less legible, depending upon the quality of the filming.

That film or fiche may have been published by a commercial company, making it widely available at many libraries and offered for individual purchase. Or, that film or fiche may have been made for preservation purposes by the archive that holds the original papers—in which case the film or fiche is typically available only in that facility and is not widely distributed or available to us by purchase so we don't have to travel to that facility.

A citation that we create to identify the source of our information needs to do two things: (1) It needs to provide the appropriate details so that we or anyone else can reasonably evaluate the quality of the source; and (2) it needs to provide the details we or anyone else needs to relocate that source. When we use newspapers on film or fiche, citing the appropriate details for that film or fiche helps us fulfill both these needs.


The Editor