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Subject: Exercising audiotapes

Exercising audiotapes

From: Inci Bowman <inci.bowman>
Date: Tuesday, May 23, 1995
I appreciate Jim Lindner's comments, which help us focus on some
important issues in exercising audiotapes. I can understand his
concerns, as I was not specific in my references.  Our decisions
were not made arbitrarily, but based on what was recommended in the
literature and manufacturer's specifications.

We found the discussion in "Conservation of Sound Archives," Chapter
6 in Alan Ward's book _A Manual of Sound Archive Administration_
(1990) very helpful.  Accordingly, exercising is done not in fast
forward mode but in play mode.  "This is best achieved," notes Ward,
"by spooling from end to end at replay speed; fast-winding or
rewinding induces higher tensions and can produce unevenness in the
pack." (p. 178)  In our experience, we found that fast forward mode
produces uneven winding of the tape, whereas play mode results in
smooth winding.  And, one cannot suspect a malfunctioning equipment,
as we used a new, mid-priced Double Cassette Deck manufactured by a
reputable company.  (Upon pricing such audio equipment, we found
that prices varied from about $69 to $700 or more.)

Our historical collections (mostly rare books with leather bindings)
are housed in an controlled environment, where temperature is kept
at 70 degrees F and relative humidity at about 50%. This may not
necessarily be the best condition for audiotapes, but the
environment is stable.  Alan Ward recommends 18-20 degrees C (64-68
degrees F) and 40% RH.

As for cleaning and demagnetizing, we purchased "AudioBrush,
professional cleaner and demagnetizer," a top of the line item
recommended by Radio Shack. The special cassette with small brushes
comes with a special solution.  If there is consensus among
conservators that this device is not effective or harmful to the
tapes, perhaps someone needs to tell Radio Shack about it.

I hope others can benefit from our experience and Jim Lindner's
comments on exercising tapes, and look forward to further discussion
on the topic.  (However, I am going out of town, and will not be
able to catch up with this discussion until the middle of June.)

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

                  Conservation DistList Instance 8:93
                  Distributed: Wednesday, May 24, 1995
                        Message Id: cdl-8-93-009
Received on Tuesday, 23 May, 1995

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