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Subject: Digital Audio Tape

Digital Audio Tape

From: Barbara Sagraves <sagraves>
Date: Tuesday, May 3, 1994
I just returned from the ALCTS Magnetic Media conference and I can offer
a few words of advice.  (Walter, jump in any time.)  Contact Dale
Treleven (ecz5det [at] mvs__oac__ucla__edu) of the UCLA Oral History Program. He
can tell you about the equipment that they use (analog) and why.

Based on the discussions at the conference I would NOT recommend DAT for
long term preservation.  The reasons are many:  the tape can be altered
without detection (unlike analog); the tape is the same thickness as a
C90 cassette and thus very fragile (about .5 mil); DAT may be around for
some time unless CDR comes down in price, then you have the problem of
the technology being outdated and the difficulty of maintaining adequate
playback machines.

Concerning the fragility of DAT:  more information is being squeezed
onto a smaller space with DAT.  In that smaller space a finger print,
piece of lint, can do more damage.  The dirt hasn't gotten bigger but
the amount of information it can affect has increased.  Another
consideration is the size of the cassette which lends itself to handling
and security problems.

The best that was said about digital tape would be to have reel to reel
digital.  Access with digital is ok but not for long term preservation.
Analog is not a permanent media but it is the preferred for a permanent
archival storage copy.

Barbara Sagraves
Preservation Department
Northwestern University Library

                  Conservation DistList Instance 7:80
                    Distributed: Monday, May 9, 1994
                        Message Id: cdl-7-80-003
Received on Tuesday, 3 May, 1994

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