Microfiche – The Pitch

The Project

We’re doing a project studying the medium of microfiche.  Microfiche is an outdated method of storing information – they are pieces of film which contain tiny images of documents/pictures that people wanted to save or reference in the future. They help store lots of information in significantly less space. Carleton’s library has an archive of microfiche stored in cabinets throughout Gould.

With our project, we are trying to find out:

  • How to use/read various types of microfiche like: negative fiche, positive fiche, opaque fiche, and ultrafiche (carleton has all of these).

Questions we want to answer by reading the fiche:

  • What kinds of information does Carleton have stored within its fiche collection? 
  • What are the sentiments expressed within the fiche?
  • Why is Carleton still getting the New York Times from 2020 on fiche?
  • How does the medium of microfiche get used? (engagement w the fiche and fiche readers as objects)
  • Who typically uses microfiche? What similarities are there between these people/institutions (age/purpose/size/etc)?

A link to a DH project that might make a good model for what we plan. – https://www.maltaparisharchives.org/


  • Sources: We will use fiche from Gould Library
  • Processes: OCR to extract text from pdfs, sentiment analysis, 3d scanning.
  • Presentation: We will present our results on Omeka.  We are not too worried about copyright because the information we will be publishing is just small excerpts from larger collections of published material.

We are still working on finalizing our data, but we plan to find a set of fiche that contains interesting information about the history of Carleton. Initially, we wanted to use a set of fiche located in the Digital Archives that documented metadata and artifacts associated with gifts given to the college from 1960-2000. After discussing with Nat Wilson, we came to the conclusion that we wouldn’t be able to remediate the contents of these fiche onto a public platform due to the privacy of its contents. Thus, we are back to the drawing board in finding our fiche.

Once we finalize our data, we plan to use the microfiche machines in the Gould Library to scan its contents into a pdf format and run OCR so that we can perform text analysis. Our text analysis procedures have not been finalized yet, but we envision some sort of sentiment analysis. Tangential to our analysis of the microfiche contents, we plan to 3D model a microfiche reader using Photogrammetry.

We plan to present our project on an Omeka website where the interface is interactive such that users can scroll through the fiche as you would when using a microfiche reader, and then click on the fiche to view the fiche and its sentiment analysis. With our 3D model, we plan to enable users to toggle with the reader and click on different features to see what they are and how they are used. This 3D model would be hosted on our Omeka website.


Week 8

  • Clean up and choose fiche we wish to digitize and analyze
  • Create Shell of html/css/js files for digitizing Microfiche
  • Begin transcribing data chosen

Week 9

  • Set up omeka
  • Create general cards/set up for digitization of selected fiche
  • Begin sentiment analysis of microfiche

Week 10

  • Finish Omeka site

Team Members:

  • Digitizing Microfiche
    • Darryl – visualization of the microfiche & fiche reader, backend setup of microfiche cards
    • Eric – web/presentation design
  • Modeling microfiche reader
    • Henry
    • James
  • Omeka
    • Eric
  • Writing things abt the fiche medium
    • Luisa

Create a unique tag for all posts going forward: fiche

Spooky Nuggets


  1. Team Fiche,
    This is a really fun project and I’m looking forward to seeing how you remediate this older technologically advanced (for its time) textual storage medium for the digital age. I really like the Malta Parish project you link as an example, and I particularly like that they share the FOSS tools they used and built for it on their DH documentation page. A good practice for you to consider as you go forward.

    On the presentation side, you say you will use Omeka, which is a good possibility for this type of project. Make sure you are gathering all the metadata for each fiche. There are a number of plugins that can help visualize some of what you hope for here, including UniversalViewer for display of deep zoomable multiimage items and even 3D models (see demo here) and NeatlineTime that lets you display items on a timeline.

    On the content side, Luisa mentioned a collection of college catalogues, which would be a great source for comparative text analysis from which you might find interesting results about Carleton’s history in relation to its peers.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.