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Subject: Exercising audiotapes

Exercising audiotapes

From: Inci Bowman <inci.bowman>
Date: Tuesday, May 16, 1995
I thought the following report on "exercising" tapes by Sarita B.
Oertling would be of interest to the members of this list.

    This spring, the Blocker Collections History of Medicine staff
    developed and implemented a procedure for the conservation of
    approximately 240 audiocassette tapes housed in Moody Medical
    Library, The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
    We found discussions on Conservation DistList, e-mail
    correspondence with Jim Lindner of VidiPax, the Magnetic Media
    Restoration Company, and a book by Alan Ward, A Manual of Sound
    Archive Administration, (Aldershot, England: Gower Publishing,
    1990) helpful in determining the best method for our needs.  We
    hope that the following brief report on our procedure for
    "exercising" tapes will prove useful to those who are
    responsible for audiotape collections.

    An important recommendation in the conservation of audiotapes is
    to "exercise" the tapes, which involves rewinding to the very
    end of each tape at normal playback speed.  This restores even
    tension in the tape and changes the direction of the curvature
    of the base so that potential distortions, which may adversely
    affect sound quality, are eliminated.  Clean equipment in good
    condition is heavily stressed in all the discussions and
    literature.  It is also recommended that the heads, pinch roller
    and capstan are cleaned and demagnetized at an interval of 10-20
    hours of use.

    We employed a new, middle-priced Double Cassette Deck in
    "exercising" the tapes.   The work was prioritized, beginning
    with the oldest tapes in the collection, which date from the
    late 1970s.  All tapes were rewound at the normal playback
    setting, and this was easily done by the staff while working on
    other tasks.  At an average rate of 10 tapes per day, the work
    was completed in 24 working days.  A commercially available
    cleaning and demagnetizing cassette containing small brushes, to
    which a special solution is applied, was used.  The removable
    brushes were cleaned periodically with soap and water, dried,
    and then reinstalled into the cassette.  The tapes are kept in
    archival boxes specifically designed for audiocassette storage
    and maintained in a controlled environment (50% Relative
    Humidity, 72 degrees F), with the rest of the historical
    collections.  We plan to repeat the process every two years or
    whenever the tapes are played, although the recommended interval
    for "exercising" audiotapes varies from six months to three
    years.

    Your comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Sarita Bullard Oertling
    Library Assistant III
    Moody Medical Library
    The University of Texas Medical Branch
    Galveston, TX 77555-1035

Inci Bowman, Curator
Moody Medical Library
U.T. Medical Branch at Galveston

                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 8:92
                   Distributed: Sunday, May 21, 1995
                        Message Id: cdl-8-92-003
                                  ***
Received on Tuesday, 16 May, 1995

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