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I wonder about the value of the recommendation to “replace plastic leaders
with paper leaders” (Capturing Analog Sound for Digital Preservation;
1.1.2.3.3 Leader).

I think that the concern about “electrostatic charges” may be overstated
(and probably has its origins from another era, perhaps when PVC was used a
leader tape base).  Using modern anti-static polyester leader as a
“replacement leader” (not to mention the high coercivity of magnetic tape
in general), makes the electrostatic charges from leader tape issue, I
feel, almost negligible.  Video shares many of the same preservation issues
as audio and I’m not aware of this “paper or plastic” question ever coming
up in that field; video preservation specialists use polyester leader and
have done so successfully for decades.  Is there a distinction between
magnetic audio media and magnetic video media (or even data storage tape,
another magnetic medium that uses polyester leader) that I’m overlooking
that would require paper tape to be used in audio?

Certainly too other arguments could be made for not using paper leader: it
is less durable than polyester, it will absorb moisture, and -particularly
with non-buffered paper, it becomes brittle and therefore may fail to
maintain the tension on the tape pack (when tacked down at the head or
tail) needed for long term storage.

Feel free to set me straight.

Best,

Danny


Daniel Sbardella
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
40 Lincoln Center Plaza
New York, NY  10023

212.870.1609