Although despised by researchers who must hunch over a poorly designed, ill-lit reader, microforms are essential components of any research library. Once a medium for reproducing a document, rare book, thesis, or dissertation needed by a distant scholar, microform now provides a means for preserving deteriorating materials, for making organized collections of research materials widely available at a fraction of the cost in hard copy, and for conserving space in overcrowded libraries; fortunately, many microform collections have been digitized. Scholars realize that any photographic copy must be used with due regard for the pitfalls surveyed by G. Thomas Tanselle, “Reproductions and Scholarship,” Studies in Bibliography 42 (1989): 25–54.


Guide to Microforms and Digital Resources. 2 pts. in 4 vols. Berlin: de Gruyter–Saur, 1978– . Annual. Z1033.M5 G8 016.099. (Former title: Guide to Microforms in Print.)

Separate subject and title lists of books, serials, collections, and other materials (except theses and dissertations) available in microform or digital form from publishers worldwide. The title list includes cross-references for authors and editors. The subject index, organized by broad Dewey class, is too general to be of much use. A typical entry includes author or editor, title, number of volumes, date, price, publisher, type of microform, and, for collections, a brief description. Indexed by publishers and distributors. Because microform and digital publications are rarely included in the national books in print volumes, the Guide is the essential source for locating works currently available. For fuller descriptions of collections, see Microform Research Collections (U6215).


Microform Research Collections: A Guide. Ed. Suzanne Cates Dodson. 2nd ed. Westport: Meckler, 1984. 670 pp. Meckler Pub. Ser. in Lib. Micrographics Management 9. Z1033.M5 D64 011.36.

A selective guide to microform collections, not reproductions of individual works (for those, see Guide to Microforms and Digital Resources [U6210]). Organized alphabetically by collection title, descriptions typically include publisher, format, technical specifications, size, review citations, arrangement, finding aids, and a description of scope and content. Because many do not have official or fixed titles, the best way to locate collections is through the index of authors, editors, titles of finding aids, subjects, and collection titles and variants. Although based almost exclusively on publishers’ descriptions (which are notoriously unreliable for microform collections), reviews, questionnaires, and printed guides, Dodson’s compilation is currently the best general guide to collections.

For recently published collections, see Guide to Microforms and Digital Resources (U6210). For evaluations of collections, the best source is Microform and Digitization Review (1972– ; quarterly).