For those who absolutely refuse to move to modern technology, are you aware you can order the 1940 U.S. census on microfilm? It isn't shipping yet, but the National Archives Trust Fund is now accepting orders.
Of course, the more than 18 terabytes of data is already online, free of charge. Anyone can view and even download by page or by an entire enumeration district at a time. However, if you or your society or your library really wants a copy on microfilm, get your checkbook out. The 4,646 reels of microfilm will be available later this year for "only" $580,750.
Yes, that's well over a half million dollars. Then add in enough storage cabinets to store 4,646 reels. I'm guessing that is an additional few thousand dollars. Of course, you will also need quite a bit of room for all those cabinets plus heat and air conditioning. Oh yes, microfilm readers are more expensive than computers, especially if you want to print the images. Microfilm viewers with attached printers are very expensive but computers with printers can be purchased for much less. If you don't already have enough microfilm viewers, plan on buying a few more if you can find a vendor that still sells viewers. (Several vendors do sell microfilm viewers but the most popular models are those that include built in scanners to convert microfilm images to digital images.)
All in all, spending well over a half million dollars for something that is already available free of charge strikes me as a waste of money. Using the online version is also easier and faster than using microfilm.
However, if you really, really want microfilm, you can learn more at http://estore.archives.gov/Category/105_1/1940_Census.aspx.
If you prefer, you can also purchase the entire 1940 census as digital images for the bargain price of $200,000.
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