News from the Nuclear Information Section
International Nuclear Information System (INIS)  &  IAEA Library

No. 13, September 2012


Digital Preservation

From the creation of INIS in 1970 until 1996, over 312 000 non-conventional literature (NCL) reports received from Member States and some international organizations were collected and converted to microfiche. The microfiche collection contains over 1 million items, with an estimated 17 million pages of full texts.

In 1997, the INIS Secretariat replaced the microfiche based production system with an imaging system designed to process and disseminate all NCL documents in electronic format. The in-house digitization of the microfiche collection started in 2002 after the acquisition of a Sunrise 2000 microfiche scanner. Initially aimed at fulfilling document delivery requests, the digitization of the full collection became an actual topic in 2003, after a release of the new INIS on-line database that supported direct access to full-texts.

INIS decided to outsource a substantial part of the microfiche scanning in order to support the existing in-house digitization capabilities. Contracts were issued after a formal invitation to bid with the amount of microfiche scanning requests dependent on available funds. Some funding for this project was provided by the Nuclear Knowledge Management Unit (NKM) of the IAEA. Throughout the years, three different contractors were engaged.

Efficient coordination and a well defined strategy are necessary to ensure the success of such a project. It was especially important to avoid duplication of work and to take into consideration the different digitization initiatives by the IAEA Member States. For this reason, INIS chose the country of publication as the main selection criteria and an extensive coordination effort with the respective Member State followed each decision to digitize their respective parts of the INIS based microfiche collection. In order to support national document and knowledge preservation efforts, the INIS Secretariat provided Member States with DVD country sets of their digitized non-conventional literature (NCL). The following table gives a detailed overview of INIS microfiche digitization activities since its inception in 2003.

Digitization of the INIS NCL Collection on Microfiche

Year PDF Pages Size (GB)
2003 566 49 574 3.7
2004 19 962 1 325 217 36.5
2005 36 935 1 577 365 32.1
2006 23 163 1 367 637 33.3
2007 9 313 668 769 16.3
2008 25 675 1 228 057 29.7
2009 81 221 3 939 811 77.3
2010 33 881 1 969 110 45.9
2011 24 027 511 990 16.2
2012 20 434 843 579 40.7
Total: 275 177 13 481 109 331.8

Close to 80% of the INIS microfiche collection has been digitized since the beginning of the project. An estimated 3.5 million pages still need to be processed before project completion. Depending on available resources, this major project is expected to be completed within the next two years. The ultimate goal is the complete integration of the microfiche-based NCL into the INIS Collection with on-line access to full texts provided via the Google-based INIS Collection Search.

The INIS Collection Search (ICS) offers Internet users free and open web access to INIS Collection. It currently holds over 3.5 million bibliographic (metadata) records and over 450 000 full text NCL documents, of which over 320 000 are available to the public. This collection of documents on the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology is now fully indexed and searchable online using Google-based technology. Around 50 000 searches and 3000 downloads are performed monthly. A direct link to the INIS Collection search is available from the INIS home page ( or directly from

In addition to the digitization of its microfiche collection of NCL, INIS is also involved with the digitization of old IAEA publications. Examples of INIS in-house efforts include the digitization of the IAEA Bulletin in all available languages, including by INIS bibliographic metadata (; the digitization of Member States' Technical Reports and Proceedings Series, done in cooperation with the IAEA Library; digitization of reports from the International Nuclear Data Committee Collection (INDC); and the digitization of out-of-print IAEA publications.

Germain St-Pierre
Digital Preservation Technician, INIS