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Microform Collections in the Penn Libraries


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Microform Collections in the Penn Library

The Penn Library holds as many microform pieces as print volumes. This page describes the microform formats and their reading and printing locations in the Penn Library, and identifies major microform sets for research.

Searching for microforms in Franklin:
Microforms are cataloged in Franklin as individual titles and as unspecified items within larger microform collections.
  • Search Franklin using title, author, subject headings, keyword, etc.
  • For the narrowest search, use the All Search Limits page. Under Medium:, select Microform.
  • Watch for reel numbers and position numbers in Franklin holdings descriptions.
Using the Penn Library Major Microforms List:
Use this tool to browse or search detailed descriptions of major microform collections and titles.

Microform reading and printing facilities in the Penn Library

Every Penn Library holds microforms and appropriate equipment for reading and printing microforms. Printing costs are posted at each equipment location. Payment is accepted in cash, check, or PennCash.

Van Pelt Library's Microtext Center, first floor east in Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, is the principal microform facility. The Microtext Center is open whenever the Van Pelt Library is open, and a staff member or student assistant is on duty to assist in locating microform materials and operating microform reading and printing equipment.

Penn Library microforms may not be borrowed. To transfer a microform item from one Penn Library to another for using a specific reader or printer, please contact a librarian.

Microform formats in the Penn Library

Microforms are usually stored by format for convenience, efficiency, and preservation. Microform call numbers are constructed from the format's name followed by a serial number.


  • Microfilm: 35mm film strips on plastic or metal reels, stored in boxes.
    "Microfilm news" refers to newspapers on microfilm.
    "Microfilm cont" refers to continuing titles, e.g., magazines.
  • Microcartridge: 16mm film strips encased in plastic cartridges.
  • Microfiche: film cards or sheets, often stored in paper sleeves or plastic file-card boxes.
  • Microbook: microfiche stored in looseleaf binders or bound volumes.


  • Microprint: Card-stock sheets, stored in large cardboard or plastic boxes.
  • Microcard: Card-stock cards, stored in paper sleeves or plastic file-card boxes.