Tips and tricks on how to use a microform reader

Numerous documents belonging to Library and Archives Canada’s collection have been copied to microfiche and microfilm (some of which are available via AMICUS, and others via self-service at 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa). First-time researchers may find the equipment required to view this material somewhat confusing.

Therefore, we have prepared a quick list of Do’s and Don’ts to guide you in the proper use and handling of these machines so that your research may be profitable.

DO’s:

  • Prepare ahead of time for your visit and order material in advance, if necessary. To learn how, please consult our previous blog article: “The Top Five Things You Need to Know Before You Visit”.
  • Retrieve your microfilm from the Consultation Reading Room shelves, which are organized by the first letter of your surname, or retrieve self-serve microfilm from the Consultation Reading Room microfilm drawers.
  • Sign in with the Consultation staff in the Microfilm Reading Room for access to a microform reader.
  • Ask the Consultation Staff for assistance if you require help loading the microform onto the readers.
  • Bring your own flash drive or CD/DVD to save digital copies of the material. Printed copies may also be purchased using a copy card, available at the Consultation Office.
  • When making digital scans from microform, please complete a “photo permission” form (used primarily for statistical purposes).
  • Be aware that making copies from microform (either on paper or as digital images) can only be done during service hours.
  • Place the self-serve microfilm reels on the return shelf, located behind the Consultation staff’s desk (in the Microfilm Reading Room) when you are finished with them.
  • Return published microform (that is, the ones you have ordered via AMICUS), to the Published Material return shelf located near the Consultation Office.
  • Consult the Special Collections staff for access to the National Map Collection (NMC) microfiche.

DON’Ts:

  • Don’t place self-serve microfilm reels in your locker. When self-serve microfilm reels are not being used, they must be available for other clients.
  • Don’t disobey the Copyright Act by making digital copies of newspapers less than 100 years old. For more information, please consult the rules posted by each photocopier.
  • Don’t leave microfilm reels at your work station or on top of cabinets.

For more details, be sure to ask our on-site Consultation staff. They are ready to answer any additional questions you may have.

Happy research!

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

New Digitized Reels: Border Entry Records

We are pleased to announce that you can now access 121,302 new images of immigration records on our website, with the Microform Digitization research tool.

Before 1908, people were able to move freely across the border from the United States into Canada. Beginning in that year, entry ports were established along the border. From 1908 to 1918, and from 1925 to 1935, border entry records were compiled in a list format to record the names of immigrants.

By providing these images online, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is now offering all immigration records containing nominal information for immigrants from 1865 to 1935 in its custody. Discover these valuable resources with the Microform Digitization research tool, which allows you to browse, page by page, the border entry records.

For more information on recent announcements at LAC, visit “News”.

How to Consult Material that Is Not Yet Available Online

For Archival Material – Use Archives Search

When searching for archival material (i.e., diaries, photographs etc.), use Archives Search. You will be able to search database records, known as “archival descriptions”. Sometimes the contents of the record have not yet been digitized. When this is the case, use one of the following methods to consult the material:

For Published Material – Use Library Search/AMICUS

When searching for published material (i.e., books, newspapers, etc.), use either our Library Search or, for more search features, use our AMICUS catalogue. The search results will often be database records (known as “bibliographic records”) and not full-text online documents. There are three ways you may consult the material:

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

How to Find a Canadian Newspaper on Microfilm

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has over 2,300 Canadian newspapers dating back to the mid-1700s, which you can access on microfilm reels or microfiche cards. Begin your research with our Geographical List, which provides the titles of community newspapers held at LAC for a given time period.

For example, to find news coverage of Queen Elizabeth II touring Rimouski,Quebec, in November 1951, on her first royal visit to Canada as Princess Elizabeth, you would follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Geographical List and select Quebec.
  2. A list of localities will appear for Quebec. Select Rimouski – Sweetsburg. You will find a list of 14 newspapers for Rimouski,Quebec, with titles appearing in red. Each title is followed by a shelf number (e.g., NJ.FM.2006), a range of dates* (e.g., ja 2001–nov 2004), and an AMICUS number (e.g., AN 9745700).
  3. The fourth title, L’Écho du Bas St-Laurent, shows the range of dates 3 mr 1933–29 av 1970. This means that LAC has that newspaper on microfilm from March 3, 1933, to April 29, 1970.
  4. Now that you have found a newspaper likely to have covered the event in 1951, write down the AMICUS number—in this case AN 7419576. You will need it to order the microfilm reel for consultation.

In the meantime, if you need more information on how to use the Geographical List or how to read an entry, visit our page on Microform Holdings.

*Ranges of dates refer to newspapers held at LAC, not the period of time they were in print.

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!