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johnross Tech: HELP ... tape boxes? (26) RE: Tech: HELP ... tape boxes? 11 Jan 09

Bob and others:

There are established standards for digital transfers from analog originals. One of the best guides is called "Sound Directions: Best Practices for Audio Preservation," from Indiana University. It's available online at

The basic issues include repair and preparation of the analog originals, cataloging and preservation of accompanying "metadata" along with the digital copies, digital audio file format, bit rate of the digital copies, and storage of the analog originals.

It's important to learn from other archives' experience, because somebody has already made most of the obvious mistakes. For example, many people have copied tapes to DATs, which turned out to be less stable than the old reel-to-reel tapes.

As for tape boxes, there are several possible sources. Somebody has already mentioned Bags Unlimited; others include US Recording, who will sell a case of 180 empty boxes:, and several archival supply places, who want a lot more for acid-free, archival quality boxes.

Don't use film cans for audio tape. They won't let moisture and other nasties escape, and the tape can eventually deteriorate. Acetate or Mylar tape is a very different kind of material from motion picture film.

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