30 March 2011

Maryland State Archives - 100% Digital

Maryland Archives went digital, no more microfilm printers

I noticed when I was at the Maryland Archives yesterday that the microfilm printers were not being used. I thought, "Great! Now we can get something done." Then we noticed a sign. It went something like this:

Due to cost of microfilm printer maintenance this service has been discontinued and printing must be done from the computers in the search room. Type in a film number to see if it has been digitized. If not, file a digitization request which will be completed in approximately 1 hour...

We went to the front entrance desk to set up our printing account. You get a Patron # and choose a pin. Every time you find a page you want and click print you will type your Patron # and pin. It subtracts from a pre-paid amount which can be added to the account in multiples of $5. One of my research partners and I shared an account. Each copy is $1. Those who are familiar with the archives will remember microfilm copies were 50 cents and while this %100 price increase may seem steep to some I felt it was a small price to pay for the modernized system.

I was unable to find any press releases or information about the digitization process at the Maryland State Archives website or anywhere else online for that matter. I hope readers and bloggers who read this will help spread the news about the changes.

Even though most of the digitized records are not online, to me, this seems like a huge step towards getting it there. The records that are online are mostly browsable only, with no index provided. Finding the records you want takes a lot of patience both with the website and with browsing the records. You can use the same page to find the film numbers you need for your search at the archives to find any online copies of the records you want. From the main page, clicking "Family Historians" and then clicking "How to find specific records" will take you to the best place I know of to find what the archives has.

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