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At 04:29 PM 2009-01-21, Jennifer Tobias wrote:
>Hi everyone,
>We have audio cassettes that are currently stored in the little 
>plastic boxes that cassette tapes originally come in (I assume this 
>is PVC.) We don't have a huge budget for rehousing tapes, and I'm 
>trying to mediate ideal housing with realistic budget constraints- 
>that is, I'm trying to figure out which of the low-cost options 
>would yield the greatest benefit. That said, is it worth it to 
>switch to polyethylene (or Mylar) cassette boxes? Does anyone have 
>any insight into this?
>Thanks for your help!

Hello, Jen,

Many cassette tapes are stored in what I believe are polystyrene 
boxes -- material similar to the jewel cases that are used for 
storing compact discs. While I have not done extensive research, I 
believe the polystyrene boxes are essentially safe for the duration 
of the life of the cassettes.

With that said, I would strongly suggest digitizing the cassettes 
sooner rather than later (yes this could be construed as self-serving 
as I offer the service), but we are seeing continued degradation of 
tapes over time and also one must consider that no new, really good 
tape players are being manufactured. I have not evaluated the Ion 
units that appear to offer playback and digitization in one box. They 
may be adequate for some applications.

Additionally, having the content in digital form will permit 
no-further-loss replication of the content across multiple storage 
locations to guard against catastrophic loss.

The soft boxes may be PVC, but I thought they were polyethylene. If 
they are PVC, I would be concerned but PVC tape has lasted well since 
circa 1944. Polyethylene might be safer than PVC, but again, I 
haven't researched the cases.

While not specifically addressing the cases, you may be interested in 
my paper on tape degradation. The first figure illustrates my concern 
over future digitization results as the tapes and the machines 
continue to degrade.

You may find that at www.richardhess.com/tape/history/

Cheers,

Richard

Richard L. Hess                   email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada       (905) 713 6733     1-877-TAPE-FIX
Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.