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FYI
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RIT Studies Increasing Shelf Life for History Preserved on Tape:
Image Permanence Institute receives grant to enhance magnetic
tape storage

The sights and sounds of recent history come alive again by
pressing the "play" button thanks to the preservation of these
moments on magnetic tape. Researchers at Rochester Institute of
Technology are working to assure these audio and video
recordings remain a viable resource to future generations.

The Image Permanence Institute (IPI), part of RIT is School of
Photographic Arts and Sciences, received nearly $400,000 to
support its three-year study, Preservation of Magnetic Tape
Collections. The grant is made possible by the National
Endowment for the Humanities.

"As a research lab, the Image Permanence Institute is dedicated
to preserving that part of our cultural heritage captured on
recording media," explains James Reilly, IPI director. "With
this research grant, we will be able to focus on the
deterioration of magnetic tape and work on creating techniques
to help libraries, museums and archives save their collections."

With the development of audio tapes in the late 1940s and the
first video recorders in the mid 1950s, magnetic tape became a
valuable tool for recording important national and world events.
But storage of magnetic tape is not permanent. Most magnetic
tapes deteriorate within 10 to 30 years. The Library of Congress
Report on the State of America Television and Video Preservation
(1997) summed up the state of magnetic tape records as
precarious.

Preservation methods developed within IPI labs will be tested on
established collections at a half dozen prominent institutions.
These participants include Columbia Library, Kennedy Library,
the Motion Picture, Broadcast and Recorded Sound Division of the
Library of Congress, State Archives of Michigan, and Northeast
Historic Film.

IPI, the world is largest independent laboratory devoted to
research in the preservation of information recording material,
is co-sponsored by RIT and the Society for Imaging Science and
Technology (IS&T). IPI research is an important source of new
preservation technology for libraries, archives, government
agencies and museums around the world.

For more information on IPI, visit <URL:http://www.rit.edu/ipi>.