Microform is the reproduction of documents in highly miniaturized form through photographic means. While it was proposed as far back as the 1800s, it only began to be put in practice in the 1920s, but then became a common means of document storage and retrieval in libraries, government offices, and other places needing to store large volumes of written material. The main public library of most cities includes extensive microform collections of newspapers from that city and elsewhere, often extending for more than 100 years of daily issues; this many issues in paper form would be much too bulky to store in the library, and would crumble well before a century of decay and handling, anyway.
Accessing microform takes some skill and patience to get the media properly aligned and focused in the reader machine and to manage to find the particular desired item in a large collection. In recent times, with increasing digitization of the sorts of resources traditionally stored in microform, use of that medium is declining; it is more convenient to access documents and newspapers through a computer than a microform reader.
Science fiction of the mid 20th century often had future people accessing literature through "book films", sometimes with portable readers.
Types of microform
- Aperture card (microform embedded in punched card)
- Microcard (miniaturized prints on paper)
- Microfiche (flat sheets)
- Microfilm (reels of film)