A microform document archival
method that consists of 16mm film
which has been laid out in little 4-by-6-inch sheet
s instead of being linear
the way microfilm
is. Microfiche is not terribly high quality, but is very cheap to reproduce and is suitable and popular for storage of newspaper
s, and map
s. Most newspapers have their back issue
s available in binder
s of microfiche; most libraries will have a small collection of such binders, and a few of the distinctive microfiche machines.
The microfiche machines basically consist of a little tray you put the microfiche sheets onto, a plastic/glass screen that clamps down on top of the microfiche when the tray is slid into place, and a big boxy monitor thing that basically consists of a lens, a mirror, and a screen; the microfiche sheets are lit from underneath, and their content is projected onto the screen. Some of the cooler microfiche viewers even have the ability to switch lenses and zoom in on the material being viewed, which is a very useful feature to have.
"Fiche" is apparently French for "card-index".
( Albert Herring says "Fiche" is French for any sort of record sheet. Or an electrical plug, or the 3rd p. sing. of the verb se ficher, meaning not to give a damn. )