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Thousands of Microfilm Records Deteriorating

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Mobile County Probate Court is in a race against time.  Hundreds of thousands of documents that span decades that were recorded on microfilm could be lost.

Probate Court Judge Don Davis said experts have told him that the film that holds the Microfiche documents are deteriorating.  A putrid, vinegary smell permeates part of the record room where those files are kept, a sign of that deterioration.  The technology is old and even the machines used to read the documents are no longer available.

Davis is asking the legislature for the power to increase the price of document recording in Probate Court, from $2 per document, to $5 per document.  That would allow more money to expedite the process of transferring the microfilm documents to digital media.  The Judge says that fee increase would also keep Probate Court from having to charge a fee for use of its website.  That is also an option, if the legislature does not act.  Davis says he would prefer to increase document recording fees, rather than impose a charge for website use.

Judge Davis said in recent years, the recession, an increased cost for software and hardware, and upgrading computer programs have all led to an increase in operating expenses for the court.
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