One man's opinions here, but a man with a lot of records ...
1. As for cleaning, YES, do so, before playing any of them, and do not circulate them (ie let
"common folks" play them). Spring for CD versions of the material, if it's in print, to circulate.
Figure out some way to make the rest of it available in-house only. So, for a cleaning system for a
small collection, I really like the SpinClean:
Why? Because it's easy to use and doesn't cost a fortune. Perfect for a small collection and nothing
exotic, strange or sophisticated to learn.
2. As for the sleeves, just wipe them off with a clean cloth. If there's mold, there's not much you
can do about it except keep them dry and keep the moldy ones isolated from the rest by keeping all
of them in plastic jacket-cover sleeves.
3. After cleaning the records, I recommend you replace the inner sleeves. I like Sleeve City because
it tends to be a little less costly:
but Bags Unlimited makes fine products too:
I like the "rice paper" plastic kind. The cheapo paper ones I don't recommend. The heavy paper ones
I really don't recommend for LPs as it's very easy to do some serious scratching just putting the LP
into the sleeves.
4. From either of those sources, also get plastic jacket covers. That isolates whatever is going on
with one jacket from the surrounding jackets (besides mold, some jackets are made of more or less
acidic cardboard than others, so some brown out over time while others don't). Some on this list
will say, store the inner sleeved record outside the jacket within the plastic sleeve (so as not to
put any warping edge-stress on the record). That's good advice, although my experience is that most
records fit in most jackets with room to spare if you take the time to slide the inner sleeves in
5. For storing the records, both Sleeve City and Bags Unlimited sell archival LP storage boxes. I've
had good luck with Bags' plastic-ized corrogated boxes, but beware SHARP edges!
Records are really neat artifacts, but they fall right apart if handled by unskilled hands. Public
use is a non-starter since probably everything you got is out of print and there's some degree of
cost and effort to replacing it. There was a whole business model back in the day built around the
fact that people wore out records, from both rough handling and junky playback equipment. One
argument made for the higher cost of CD's was that they wouldn't wear out, which of course is not
true since they can get scratched or finger-printed to the point of non-playability. I advise
archive clients not to circulate any out of print CDs, rather use CDR copies for in-house-only
listening. This would be much less of an issue if the commercial music business were healthy and
most CD titles were readily available and in-print, but that's not the case anymore.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Grob, Julie" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, December 04, 2010 6:22 PM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Cleaning Vinyl Records
Hi audio experts,
I have acquired a small collection of vinyl records from the 1980s and 1990s for our archive. What
is the best low-tech way to clean the covers and the records themselves? They are quite dusty...
stored in a garage.
Digital Projects & Instruction Librarian
114 University Libraries
Houston, TX 77204-2000