Microfilming Department


The Microfilm Department, which is associated with our publications and printing division, occupies two inter-connected rooms in the block behind the new administration building, and is equipped with a microfilm camera, an autoprocessor, a reader-printer, and two microfilm/fiche readers, which were obtained in 1985 with the assistance of the UNDP assisted project, Preservation of Cultural Heritage. In December, 1986, two newly appointed and staff were given training in the operation and maintenance of the the microfilm equiptment at the Fuji Photo Film Caompany and the Toyo Bunko Library in Japan. Later that year the department began systematically filming all old manuscripts in the National Library’s collection under the guidance of Dr. Yoshiro Imaeda.

By the end of 1988 approximately 25% of the National Library manuscripts had been processed, and the department began to concentrate on microfilming rare and precious manuscripts held in monastic libraries. First priority was given to works held in monastaries and temples in and around Thimphu and Paro, since these were easy to collect and return. By the mid-1990s most of the important books in the National Library had already been microfilmed. In 1993, the Library considered purchasing of portable microfilming equipment, so that the filming of manuscripts held at more remote locations could be done on site. However, this proposal was shelved with the eventual approval of funding for a more comprehensive library development project.

Microfilming activities were almost suspended for several years while staff concentrated on implementation of the first phase of the Danida project, but resumed in 2001 when the documentation survey phase began. Details of the Library’s microform holdings, formerly recorded in a handwritten register, were transferred to a computer database.

Advantages of Microfilm

Microfilm cameras have very high resolution lenses optimized for copying documents. Microfilm itself is a high resoulution, extreemly fine grained black and white film on a stable base which is specially processed to ensure that it does not deteriorate. Microfilm can be preserved for a very long time in stable conditions and it is quite easy to print out copies from microfilm or to transfer the data from the film to a digital format. Being an analouge format, prints can be made directly from the original microfilm - it does not rely on any digital file format or magnetic or optical media which may change over the years, become outdated or unreable.

So, next to hand-made Bhutanese paper itself - which can last for well over a thousand years under proper conditions, microfilm is a very reliable and compact media for long term archival storage of documents.

During 2005-2006 the microfilm equiptment had to be put into storage due to lack of available space during the demolition of the old administration block and construction of the new administration block facility. Work of the department was consequently inhibited. Now that the construction has been completed the microfilm department facilities will shortly re-open and it will resume it's work with new vigor.

Soon we hope to begin the publication of rare texts from the library of Ashi Kezang Choden which the department hods on three rolls of microfilm. List will be prepared of all the books and documents held on microfilm for archival keeping. A printed catalouge

Microfilming Facility & Service

The National Library offers a free microfilming service for institutions and individuals within Bhutan holding important rare texts and documents. We actively encourage anyone holding such documents to bring them to the library for microfilming in order to ensure the long term preservation of the contents of these documents should anything happen to the original. Upon microfilming the original text or document will be returned to the provider along with one microfilm copy, and one copy will be held in our Archives in safe and secure controlled storage conditions.