What is Microfilm?

Microfilm is a type of microform, is a film reel with tiny images printed on it, typically 35mm wide. It provides space-efficient long-term storage of large images such as newspapers, maps and journals.

In the digital age, microfilm might seem outdated. However, it offers the following advantages:

  • Saves space by holding a large amount of content on a relatively small amount of storage medium.
  • It is stable with an estimated shelf-life of over 500 years (!)
  • Accessing microfilm content only requires light and magnification.

Newspapers and Equipment Available

The Creativity Commons has a USB scanner for accessing archive reel newspapers. Newspapers include:

  • Times Colonist (also listed as Victoria Daily Times and Daily Colonist)
    • December 11 1858-December 2010
  • Nanaimo Daily News
    • April 1874 – January 2016
  • Alberni Valley Times
    • 1967-1969
  • Ladysmith Chronicle
    • 1957-1970
  • BC Census
    • 1881, 1891, 1901

Using the Microfilm Station

The microfilm station is available on a first-come, first-served basis and can be booked ahead of time for up to three hours. The only cost is printing pages from your search. Results can also be saved digitally on a USB stick.

Rules for Booking Microfilm Station

  • You must have a valid Vancouver Island Regional Library card.
  • You must be 13 years or older or accompanies by an adult.

Alternate Ways of Accessing Archive Newspapers

  • You can also search online through the Canadian Newsstream database on our website. VIRL’s Courtenay branch also has access to microfilm for Comox Free Press from 1910-June 1983. Find out more about this service here.