The Microform Collection

Lower Level, Shields Library

Microform (or microcopy, the former term) means any photographic reproduction of any material in a size too small to be read without magnification. It provides a way for the library to collect and maintain materials too fragile, bulky, old or valuable to collect in the original forms, for example, newspapers, rare books, or old magazines. The Microforms collection is located on the Lower Level of Shields Library. Equipment for reading all formats is available in the lower level. Self-service and mediated printing are available in the library.

Assistance with finding microforms or using the reading equipment is provided by the staff of the Periodicals/Microforms desk. Reference Librarians at the Government Information Reference desk assist users with reference questions involving the contents of collections or using Government Information in microform. A number of major microform sets and series are being converted to digital format. Examples are Early American Imprints, Early English Books and the New York Times. Our staff can assist you to access the various formats.

Different Microforms

Microforms in Shields Library can be in one of four forms. The form can be identified by the symbol following the call number in MELVYL or the card catalog.

35mm film on reels. All newspapers, some large sets of rare books, some magazines and other materials are on microfilm. The symbol mf, appearing below the call number, indicates microfilm. e.g. AC 1 U62 mf
4 X 6 or 3 X 5 film sheets. Each sheet holds 40 to 98 pages. Most technical reports, government documents, and dissertations are in microfiche. The symbol mf, followed by a number, usually mf11, appearing below the call number, indicates microfiche.
3 X 5 opaque card. Now an obsolete form, it was formerly used for technical reports and some collections of rare materials. mc is the symbol for microcard.
6 X 9 opaque sheet. Now an obsolete form, many older collections of rare books and government documents are in microprint. The symbol mp, appearing below the call number, indicates microprint.

Access to the Microform Collections

Our online catalogs list microform holdings for periodicals, newspapers, microform sets, and individual works by author, title and subject. Searches in the UCD Library Harvest Catalog may be limited by microform format.

Many large sets can be accessed either by the name of the set or the individual works in the set. In other cases, only the set is included in the catalog and you must use a guide to locate individual works. Consult with a reference librarian for assistance in locating the guides to collections. Guides are available in the appropriate subject reference department or in the Microform collection, and reference librarians in these areas can assist with the indexes.

The call number for microforms will include mf, mf11, mp or mc in the last line of the call number. Most works are assigned a Library of Congress call number. Newspapers on microfilm are generally filed alphabetically by title.

Reading and Reader-Printer Equipment

Reading machines are available to view all microforms. Readers for microfilm, microfiche, and microprint are located in the Microforms Reading Room on the Lower Level of Shields Library. There is also a workstation in the Lower Level where patrons may print for a fee or download scanned pages to their USB storage device without charge. UCD affiliates may request to reserve blocks of time on the microform workstation using our online reservation system. When not reserved, the microform workstation is available first come, first served with a 2hr time limit while others are waiting. Assisted scanning can be arranged at the Shields Library Circulation Services desk.

What is Available in Microform?


From 1978 to 2003/2004, the library maintained a microprint copy of all masters theses and doctoral dissertations. For more information see our Dissertations page.


UCD has long runs of many newspapers on microform. A partial list includes:

  • Chicago Tribune (April 23, 1849-current)
  • Christian Science Monitor (January 1956-current)
  • Daily Democrat (1878-1881, 1886-1891, April 1972-current)
  • Davis Enterprise (January 1898-current)
  • Financial Times (January 1981-current)
  • Los Angeles Times (December 4, 1881-current)
  • New York Times (September 18, 1851-current)
  • Pravda (January 1977-current)
  • Sacramento Bee (February 3, 1857-current)
  • Sacramento Union (March 19, 1851-1854, January 1869-current)
  • San Francisco Chronicle (January 16, 1865-current)
  • The Times (London) 1785-current)
  • Wall Street Journal (July 1889-current)
  • Washington Post (July 1904-1958, 1961-current)
  • Winters Express (1887-current)

Electronic versions of many newspapers, and printed indexes to selected newspapers, are available; see our Newspaper pages (for more information.


The early years of some periodicals now being received in paper copy are in microform. Look up periodical or newspaper titles to find a call number and holdings for both paper and microform. Microform holdings as well as paper holdings will be listed in the Harvest Catalog and MELVYL.

UCD has several major collections of periodicals from the 18th and 19th centuries. Printed guides in the Microform Room and the Humanities, Social Sciences & Government Information Services list titles and years available. Ask at the Documents Reference Desk or the Humanities, Social Sciences & Government Information Services Reference Desk for assistance. The following are two major historical collections.

American Periodicals Series
Titles from 1741 through the early 1900s.
Call number: AS 5 A29 mf (microfilm)
Early British Periodicals
Periodicals published primarily in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Call number: AP 4 E25 mf (microfilm)

Major Research Collections in Microform

Following is a partial list of the major collections in microform.

Early American Imprints
Evans and Shaw-Shoemaker
A microprint collection of books, pamphlets printed in America from 1639 through 1829.
  • Microcopy: AC 1 E25 mp (1st series, 1639-1800)
  • Microcopy: AC 1 E26 mp (2nd series, 1801-1819) (microprint)
Early English Books
Books, pamphlets, plays, etc. printed in England, from 1475-1700. In microfilm.
AC 1 U6 mf (Series I) and AC 1 U62 mf (Series II) (microfilm)
  • Pollard and Redgrave. Short-Title Catalog of Books Printed in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of English Books Printed Abroad, 1474-1640. (Series I) Z2002 P6 1976
  • Wing, Donald. Short-Title Catalog of Books Printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and British American and of English Books Printed in Other Countries, 1641-1700. (Series II) Z2002 W5 1972
  • Accessing Early English Books. Z 2002 U586 1981
Eighteenth Century
A continuing project reproducing on microfilm works printed in any language in the British empire or anywhere else in the world, from 1701 to 1800. The project will eventually include more than 200,000 titles. UCD has works filmed through 1992.
AC1 E33 1982 E mf
  • The Eighteenth Century: guide to the microfilm collection. Microcopy and HSSGIS: AC1 E33 1982 E guide, 1984-
Landmarks of Science (Part I)
Sources in the history of science. Collected scientific writings collected and filmed. Works are filed in order by the author's last name.
Q125 L3 mp (microprint)
  • Landmarks of Science, Series I - Short Title List. Micropcopy Room: Q125 L3 Guide 1984
Three Centuries of English and American Plays
More than 5,000 plays published in England from 1500 through 1800 and in the U.S. from 1714 through 1830.
PN6110.5 W3 mp (microprint)
  • Three Centuries of English and American Plays, a Checklist. Microcopy and HSSGIS Reference: PN6110.5 W31

Social Science Collections

Human Relations Area Files
More than three million pages of anthropological research materials indexed by a detailed culture and subject classification and reproduced on microfiche.
HG2 H74 mf11 (microfiche)
Guides to classification and use are available in the Microform room.
ERIC Reports
Microfiche of the reports indexed in Resources in Education or in the ERIC database. UCD began collecting the ERIC ED reports in 1980. The subscription ended in 2004 with electronic only access.
Uncataloged microfiche.
  • Eric CD-ROM in HSSGIS Reference or Resources in Education in HSSGIS Reference.
SEC FILE (Earlier: Q-File and Disclosure)
Microfiche of company annual reports, proxy statements, 10-K and other reports submitted by major U.S. corporations to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
HG 4050 D4 mf11 (microfiche)
  • An index/guide is in the microfiche room and is usually shelved on the table near the cabinets containing the fiche.

Government Documents Collection

Major collections include:

  • Agency for International Development (AID) Research Reports
  • British Parliamentary Papers
  • Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  • Technical Reports from the Department of Energy
  • Technical Reports from NASA
  • Technical Reports from NTIS: Shields Library collects reports from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • United Nations Documents
  • U.S. Government Publications from the Government Printing Office
  • U.S. Congressional Committee Hearings