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Re: [ARSCLIST] rehousing audio cassettes

At 04:29 PM 2009-01-21, Jennifer Tobias wrote:
Hi everyone,
We have audio cassettes that are currently stored in the little plastic boxes that cassette tapes originally come in (I assume this is PVC.) We don't have a huge budget for rehousing tapes, and I'm trying to mediate ideal housing with realistic budget constraints- that is, I'm trying to figure out which of the low-cost options would yield the greatest benefit. That said, is it worth it to switch to polyethylene (or Mylar) cassette boxes? Does anyone have any insight into this?
Thanks for your help!

Hello, Jen,

Many cassette tapes are stored in what I believe are polystyrene boxes -- material similar to the jewel cases that are used for storing compact discs. While I have not done extensive research, I believe the polystyrene boxes are essentially safe for the duration of the life of the cassettes.

With that said, I would strongly suggest digitizing the cassettes sooner rather than later (yes this could be construed as self-serving as I offer the service), but we are seeing continued degradation of tapes over time and also one must consider that no new, really good tape players are being manufactured. I have not evaluated the Ion units that appear to offer playback and digitization in one box. They may be adequate for some applications.

Additionally, having the content in digital form will permit no-further-loss replication of the content across multiple storage locations to guard against catastrophic loss.

The soft boxes may be PVC, but I thought they were polyethylene. If they are PVC, I would be concerned but PVC tape has lasted well since circa 1944. Polyethylene might be safer than PVC, but again, I haven't researched the cases.

While not specifically addressing the cases, you may be interested in my paper on tape degradation. The first figure illustrates my concern over future digitization results as the tapes and the machines continue to degrade.

You may find that at www.richardhess.com/tape/history/



Richard L. Hess email: richard@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX
Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.

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