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Keeping NARA’s Microfilm Readers and Printers in Good Repair

by on September 23, 2011


Today’s guest blog post comes from Rebecca Crawford of Research Services.


We know how important microfilm readers and printers are to the research you do each day at the National Archives.  That is why we do our best to ensure the machines in our research rooms are kept in good working order and available when you need them.  NARA’s current microfilm readers are almost 10 years old; we purchased the equipment for the opening of the 1930 Census in 2002. Currently, there are 24 microfilm machines in the research room at Archives I.

Researchers almost never have to wait to use a machine, either during regular business hours or during the annual Genealogy Fair.  On the rare occasion that NARA is unable to plan ahead for a large group of researchers, the wait time is less than 10 minutes.

Machine repairs occur whenever a maximum of five machines are in need of repair or before a large event. We no longer have a maintenance contract with Library Store, but in most cases, the Library Store can respond to our request for service within two business days and repair the equipment. During the last year, the Library Store fixed all machines on-site. No machines were down because parts needed to be ordered from the factory in Israel.

We stockpile several parts for the microfilm machines including bulbs and bulb sockets. With these parts, staff can quickly fix many of the minor recurring problems.  When repairs require dismantling the equipment, we request service from the Library Store.

As for our microfilm printers, machine repairs occur as needed. The printers are under contract to MEDI for repair; they usually respond to our request for service within one business day, and a repair technician is on-site within two business days.  We also make sure to stockpile bulbs for the printers for quick and efficient repairs.

Here is a list of common problems with microfilm readers and printers, with repair time estimates:

Common Problems include:

Repair Time Estimate

Blown bulbs Staff replace bulbs as needed.Parts ordered in bulk.

1 business day

Broken bulb sockets Staff replace as needed.Parts ordered in bulk.

1 business day

Belt problems Service request placed.The Library Store orders belts in bulk.Belts are readily available for repairs.

2 business days

Less Common Problems include:

Repair Time Estimate

Blown transformers Service request placed.Parts are ordered.

3 to 6 months

Bad switches Service request placed.The Library Store orders switches in bulk.

2 business days

Broken lenses Service request placed.Lenses tightened during service call.

2 business days

 


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