Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Proper Storage for Your Old Cassettes

Three of the audio studios at George Blood Audio and Video.

(The fourth entry in a six-part series on audio preservation.)

As part of our June and Art collection, we have four audio cassettes of oral history that my mother recorded in 2003.  Also, we have a strong interest in preserving the audio cassette of our wedding ceremony from 1987 (not technically a June and Art item, but we’d like to think it’s an important part of our family history, too!).  We can’t just put the originals of these tapes anywhere, can we?  They’re way too important!

I asked Cassandra Gallegos, Preservation Administrator at George Blood Audio and Video, for advice regarding how to best store the precious original tapes:

“Tapes should always be stored in a case of some sort. I recommend an inert plastic case that closes securely.  The enclosed cassette should be stored on its longest side with the spine facing up.  This will help keep water out of the case if it gets wet. 

“The recommended storage conditions for magnetic tape are 65°F with 40% relative humidity.  Of course, in practicality, it is hard for even the most advanced archive to remain at these conditions.  Slightly above and below these parameters is perfectly fine.  Luckily these more relaxed conditions are the optimal comfort level for most people.

“The rule of thumb is to keep the cassettes in a cool, dry location away from direct sunlight or contaminants.  Storing in archival boxes or drawers will help protect them from dust, temperature and humidity fluctuation and sunlight.  If nothing else, keep the tapes out of the attic or basement!”

© 2010 Lee Price

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