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Microfiche is a thin photographic film, usually four by five inches, which is capable of storing information in miniaturized form. This technique is used in preserving fragile materials such as archival documents, journals, books, newspapers and magazines, as well as a method of saving space in libraries and other archives.
Microfiche is easy to use and does not require specialized knowledge or software to use it. The documents are photographed and stored in the small space of the microfiche card. The images are too small to be read by the naked eye. In order to read the information on the microfiche, a special device is used to greatly magnify the contents. Like microfilm, microfiche is available as positive and negative images, although negative images are more common.
There are many advantages when microfiche is used, like easy storage. Many documents can be stored in a small space, as a single sheet can store numerous images. It also provides an easy and convenient way to access grouped documents. Updating is also easy, as a new sheet can be added to the file at any point of time, and this helps in keeping the documents organized. This is one of the biggest reasons for using it for archiving photos, newspapers, journals and other documents. Microfiche is a flat film sheet and does not require the spinning of film onto reels, as in case of microfilm. Microfiche also takes less space and has fewer storage requirements compared to microfilm.
One of the major disadvantages of using microfiche is the portability factor. It requires special devices for reading and duplicating the cards, and the special equipment is expensive. Microfiche is also more expensive than microfilm to produce.
With the advent of digital storage options, microfiche is not as prominently used as in the past.