Effective Date: 
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
  1. Introduction
  2. General Requirements
  3. Standards for Filming and Storing Public Records
  4. Standards and Technical Reports

1. Introduction

Micrographics, as part of a comprehensive records management program, is a vital tool used to manage efficiently the large volume of information generated and stored by North Dakota state and county offices. The standards for microfilming public records in the state of North Dakota encompass all micro photographic systems used by state agencies, including:

  1. All micrographic services provided by the Media Services unit of the Information Technology Department;
  2. All micrographic services performed by private vendors for state and county office. These services include creating, processing, and duplicating microfilm; and
  3. All microfilming services performed on equipment owned or leased by any state or county office.

Standards used by ITD Media Services are derived from standards developed by the Association for Information and Image Management, the American National Standards Institute, and the Thomas Handbook of Quality Control for the Microfilm Industry. Standards for microfilming North Dakota Public Records have been developed by ITD Records Management, pursuant to North Dakota Century Code (Sections 54-46-10, 54-46-12, and 54-46.1-06).

Pursuant to North Dakota Century Code (Chapter 54-46.1), all state agencies, vendors, and service bureaus must follow the appropriate standards when performing micrographic services for state records.

All microfilm equipment utilized for filming public records, whether owned or leased by a state agency or by any vendor, must meet all minimum requirements as outlined in this publication.

Contact ITD Records Management to register and obtain approval for microfilm projects.

2. General Requirements

Records Must Be Included on a Records Retention Schedule

All records to be microfilmed must be included on a records retention schedule developed in cooperation with ITD Records Management. Only documents included on an approved records retention schedule will be authorized for microfilming. Contact ITD Records Management to obtain information on developing a records retention schedule.

Microfilming Projects Must Be Approved

A Microfilm Feasibility Study (SFN 2000) must be completed and submitted to ITD Records Management for review and approval prior to the start of any microfilming projects.

Document Preparation

Document preparation means organizing the records in the exact order in which the documents must appear on the microfilm. It is your agency’s responsibility to complete all document preparation. If the documents are not prepared properly, they will not be scanned. You must contact ITD Media Services to obtain instructions before preparing documents.

Document preparation must be completed as follows:

  1. Complete one Microfilm Divider (SFN 2053) for each file to be filmed. All information used to locate a file should be entered on the Microfilm Divider in the “Description” field.
  2. Remove all staples, paper clips, tape, etc., from the documents. Folded papers must be unfolded.
  3. Remove all duplicate information from the files or it will be filmed, which will increase the cost to your agency.
  4. Documents larger than 11" x 17" must be cut to a maximum of 11" x 17."
  5. Documents on less than 20# paper must be photocopied on 20# paper no larger than 11” x 17.”
  6. Light print on older documents must be photocopied using a darker setting.
  7. All perforated edges on all sides of a document must be removed. Examples are papers removed from comb and e-z coil binders.
  8. The records should be stacked face down in the boxes in the order in which they are to be filmed, with dividers at the start of each separate file.
  9. With documents facing down, all pages should be aligned on the right of the paper.
  10. The text on all documents should be facing the same direction (toward the top).
  11. Smaller documents must be copied to an 8.5” x 11” paper.

If you have any questions about preparing documents for filming, contact ITD Media Services.

Compliance with Standards

All microfilming must comply with Section 3. Standards for Filming and Storing Public Records.

3. Standards for Filming and Storing Public Records


The integrity of public records which have been microfilmed must be maintained by ensuring that the microfilm records serve the purposes for which the original records were created. ITD Media Services will check all microfilm for quality and to ensure that all the standards are met. Before destruction of the paper records, the office responsible for the records being filmed must review the microfilm and verify that the documents are satisfactorily reproduced on the microfilm. Microimages must contain all of the significant details shown on the original documents.

Film Type

  1. Silver Halide Films (Silver Gelatin Films): The film stock used to make microphotographic copies of long-term, permanent, or archival records must be safety-base permanent record film as specified in ISO 18906:2000 and ISO 18901:2010.
  2. Non-archival films: Films which do not meet all requirements of ISO 18906:2000 and ISO 18901:2010 are not considered to be archival microfilms. This includes dry silver microfilm and "updatable" microfilm.

Storage of Original Film (Requirements)

  1. Reels and Cores: Microfilm stored in roll form must be wound on cores or on reels of the type specified in ISO 6148:2001 or ISO 24537:2007. The materials used must be non-corroding, such as plastic compounds or nonferrous metals.  Steel material used for storage purposes is permissible, provided the reels are protected by lacquer, enamel, tinning, or some other corrosion-resistant finish. Plastics or lacquers that might give off reactive fumes, peroxides, or exudations during storage must not be used. All material used to retain the film must meet the specifications of ISO 18911:2010 and ISO 18902:2013.
  2. Storage Containers: The microfilm must be stored in a closed container made of an inert material such as metal, plastic that does not give off reactive fumes, peroxides, or exudations during stor­age, or acid-free paper. All paper containers, such as microfiche envelopes, aperture card stock, etc., must be acid free and must comply with all specifications of ISO 18902:2013.
  3. Mixing of Film Types: Silver-gelatin microfilm must not be stored with other types of film because gases given off by the non-silver gelatin microfilm may damage or destroy silver-gelatin microfilm.

Use of Original Film

  1. The original camera film containing images of long-term, permanent, or archival documents must never be used for reference purposes. Only duplicate microfilm should be used for reference purposes.
  2. Measures must be taken to keep microfilm clean and unscratched during the inspection and duplication processes.
  3. Original film, images, or titles must never be altered or obliterated by hole punching, scratching, etching, or any other means. Adhesive labels and film pens will not be allowed.

Inspection of Original Film

At approximately two-year intervals, a one percent sample of rolls of microfilm and microfiche selected at random must be inspected. For each biennial inspection, a different lot sample must be chosen, with some overlapping to determine if any changes have occurred since the previous inspection. The film must be inspected for mold or fungus, excessive brittleness, film curl or discoloration, adherence of the emulsion to the base, evidence of adhesion, the presence of blemishes or defects in the film as a result of aging, and any evidence of vinegar syndrome. A rereading of resolution targets and a re-measurement of the film density must be done. Storage containers must be inspected for evidence of rust and corrosion. If deterioration of any sample is found, a complete inspection of (1) all microfilm of all formats located within that box and (2) all microfilm processed during the same time period in which the deteriorating film was processed must be performed.

Deteriorating Film

Deteriorating microfilm must be promptly removed from the storage facility. If all images are still legible, a silver-halide duplicate must be created from the original and refilled in place of the original. If images have been destroyed, appropriate measures must be taken to insure the safety of all remaining images and to reasonably recreate any lost documentation. All silver-halide duplicates must meet all appropriate standards before they will be accepted by ITD Media Services in lieu of the original.


Methylene Blue Test Required

Silver-gelatin film used to make microphotographic copies of long- term, permanent, or archival records must be processed so the residual thiosulfate ion concentration is within archival limits. Thiosulfate is a chemical used in developing microfilm. When not adequately removed by washing during processing, such residue can consume the emulsion of the film and result in permanent damage.

All microfilm processing facilities utilized by state and county offices must perform methylene blue testing to measure the residual thiosulfate on microfilm developed on each processor. The methylene blue testing method measures the concentration of a blue dye that is formed during the testing procedure. The amount of dye indicates the amount of residual thiosulfate remaining on the film.

All methylene blue testing must conform to the specifications of ISO 18917:1999. Residual thiosulfate ion concentration must be greater than zero but must not exceed 1.4 micrograms per square centimeter in a clear area. A "clear area" is that portion of the film which has been processed, but not exposed to light. This clear area must conform to the specifications for Dmin as indicated below in the Image Density section.

All methylene blue tests must be done within a week of process­ing.

All microfilm processing facilities, including privately-owned vendors, utilized by state and county offices must submit evidence of methylene blue testing to ITD Media Services for each processor used to process microfilm containing public records. Test results must be submitted for each week in which any long-term, permanent, or archival records are processed.

If an agency contracts with a vendor for micrographic services, that vendor is considered the primary vendor. If the vendor utilizes another service to process the microfilm, it is the responsibility of the primary vendor to provide ITD Media Services with methylene blue test results to attest to the archival quality of processing.

It is the responsibility of the state agency (and the micrographics vendors, if used) to show complete compliance with ISO 18901:2010.

All methylene blue testing must be conducted under valid testing conditions. In order to conduct a valid test for archival quality, all testing must proceed as follows:

  1. The results must be verifiable by a third party, if verification is requested within the two-week period.
  2. The time of the test must be selected at random. Testing must take place during different times of the day and on different days of the week, with variations between the time and volume of film processed and the replacement of chemistry and other consumable supplies, such as water.
  3. The testing must be performed using the practices normally followed for operating the processing equipment such as changing of chemicals and water, and routine cleaning of the processor.
  4. The testing must be performed at least one time between any chemical changes.

Unsatisfactory Methylene Blue Test

If the methylene blue test results yield a thiosulfate ion concentration of greater than 1.4 micrograms per square centimeter, all microfilm containing images of long-term or archival documents will be rejected from the date of the last acceptable test to the date of the next acceptable test. Please note that fine grain film must yield a thiosulfate ion concentration of less than .7 micrograms per square centimeter. Film which fails the methylene blue test must be refilmed at the expense of the processing laboratory.

Image Reduction Ratios

Cameras and Film Writers: A reduction ratio for roll microfilming of documents of 32 to 1 or less is preferred. A reduction ratio of greater than 32 to 1 may be used only if the micrographic system can maintain a satisfactory resolution as specified below at the greater reduction.

Image Resolution

All microfilm systems filming public documents must be tested for resolution. This test must use a camera test chart as specified in ANSI/AIIM MS23-2004 or AIIM MS17-1992.

All micrographic systems used for microfilming documents must produce a resolution with a minimum of 125 lines per millimeter (lines/mm). The resolution is determined by multiplying the number identifying the smallest pattern which can be distinguished or resolved by the reduction ratio of the microfilm.

When determining resolution, the line-count method will be used. A microscope with a magnification of 5OX to 150X should be used when reading the camera test chart. In the line-count method, the person inspecting the film must be able to see and count five separate lines with absolute certainty. It is important that the Inspector be able to distinguish the area between the lines, and only readings with a clear and definite separation will be accepted.

When reading the camera test chart, the film must be processed to the density standards specified in Image Density.

Image Density

All micrographic reproductions of documents must be tested to ensure that they meet the photographic background densities stated below. The density target sheet should always be a white sheet of paper the same size as the documents that are being filmed.

Microfilming projects that consist primarily of colored paper must be given special consideration when selecting a density target. Agencies that have colored documents to be microfilmed must contact ITD Media Services before beginning the project. After ITD Media Services examines a sample of the microfilming project, a decision will be made whether the density target for the project will be the same color as the majority of the documents in the microfilming project. A test must be run to determine the appropriate color to be used for the density target.

  1. Microfilm: The background density of first generation negative microfilm must be maintained as nearly as practicable in the range of 0.92 to 1.20. Background density of less than 0.80 and greater than 1.30 will not be allowed unless the documents filmed fall clearly in the categories listed in ANSI/AIIM MS23-1990.
  2. Dmin: of unexposed, processed, clear based film must not exceed 0.10. When a tinted base film is used, an increase up to 0.20 will be accepted in the 0mm.

*NOTE: ITD Media Services will accept an image density in the range of 0.70 to 1.40 for microfilm that does not contain long-term, permanent, or archival records. This less-than-standard quality would only be allowed on a one-time basis, with the understanding that the next batch of microfilm must meet the established standards. ITD Media Services will notify the agency when microfilm does not meet the standards and the agency will be responsible to correct the problem before the next batch of microfilm is processed.

Identification on Microfilm

Roll Microfilm: Records must be indexed in an organized manner for efficient retrieval. Generally, the documents will be organized in the same sequence in which they are filed in hard copy form. Targeting as specified below must be filmed in the proper sequence and microfilm divider targets must be used to separate each file.

Identification on Filing Enclosures and Carton Labels

All filing enclosures and carton labels must contain the following information:

  1. Roll number
  2. Agency name
  3. Record series name or title
  4. Record control number
  5. Starting and ending index
  6. Month and year of filming and background density levels


Roll microfilm: Proper identification targets must appear on each roll of microfilm. This is necessary to ensure ready identification of and access to the information on the film and for the information to be legally admissible in a court of law.  The following targets must be used for roll microfilm in the following sequence:

  1. Target 1: Beginning of Roll Certificate (SFN 2050)
  2. Target 2: Microfilm Certificate (SFN 2049)
  3. Target 3: Resolution Test Chart
  4. Target 4: Density Target - The density target is a blank sheet of white paper
  5. Target 5: Microfilm Divider (SFN 2053) - The microfilm divider identifies separations between individual records or files
  6. Target 6: Density Target - The same density target used as Target 4 must be placed between the last document filmed on the roll and the Resolution Test Chart (Target 7)
  7. Target 7: Resolution Test Chart
  8. Target 8: Microfilm Certificate (SFN 2049) - In addition to the information in Target 2, this target should identify the ending file name or number and the number of exposures or frames on the film.
  9. Target 9: End of Roll Certificate (SFN 2050) - Fill in the end of roll number, and film this target after the resolution target

Destruction of Public Records after Microfilming

It is up to the agencies themselves to do the final verification of each document before the destruction of any records. Paper records or electronic images may be disposed after the microfilm has been verified for quality and accuracy by the state agency or county office. The following conditions must be met to dispose of the paper records or electronic images:

  1. The original microfilm and the duplicate copy are properly stored in separate locations.
  2. The destruction of the original paper records is not specifically prohibited by statute or by the agency's records retention schedule.
  3. The disposal of records is completed according to the method stated on the records disposal report.

4. Standards and Technical Reports

Copies of standards and technical reports may be obtained from AIIM - The Global Community for Information Professionals.

AIIM MS17-1992 Rotary (Flow) Microfilm Camera Test Chart and Test Target - Description and Use

ANSI/AIIM MS23-2004 Recommended Practice - Production, Inspection, and Quality Assurance of First-Generation, Silver Microforms of Documents

ISO 6148:2001 Photography - Micrographic films, spools and cores -Dimensions

ISO 24537:2007 Micrographics - Dimensions for reels used for 16mm and 35mm microfilm

ISO 18901:2010 Imaging materials - Processed silver-gelatin type black-and-white films - Specifications for stability

ISO 18902:2013 Imaging materials - Processed imaging materials - Albums, framing and storage materials

ISO 18906:2000 Imaging materials - Photographic Films - Specifications for safety film

ISO 18911:2010  Imaging Materials - Processed safety photographic films - Storage practices

ISO 18917:1999 Photography - Determination of residual thiosulfate and other related chemicals in processed photographic materials - - Methods using iodine-amylose, methylene blue and silver sulfide

Drafted By

ITD Records Management