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AMIA-L  January 2006

AMIA-L January 2006

Subject:

Re: Vinegar syndrome audio tapes

From:

Hannah Frost <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association of Moving Image Archivists <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 17 Jan 2006 09:27:05 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (82 lines)

Mike,

I encountered a 1/4" audio tape with VS when surveying a collection a 
few years ago. I don't recall for certain, but I believe it was an 
off-brand, not Scotch 111. The smell knocked my socks off when I 
opened the bag (yes, it was stored in a plastic bag inside the 
original cardboard box); the A-D strip turned yellow. I had it copied 
for preservation; the transfer was problem-free. I believe the tape 
was removed from the audio storage area and stored elsewhere (some 
odd-sized, remainder shelf space in a books storage area) as a 
precaution against the spread of VS to other acetate-based tapes.

This decision of whether to begin to store VS-afflicted materials 
separately is not insignificant for some collecting institutions, 
because it effectively creates another collection to manage, and a 
list of things to do: acquire adequate shelf space in appropriate 
environmental conditions, update location info in catalogs & finding 
aids, plan for frequent condition monitoring, etc. Whether your 
organization is big or small, and has great or few holdings in media 
formats, these are just some of the issues to consider.

Hannah Frost
Media Preservation Librarian
Digital Library Systems & Services
Stanford University Libraries





At 08:13 AM 1/17/2006, you wrote:
>Hi,
>
>We have just found a collection of Scotch 111 tapes with vinegar
>syndrome. The tapes test between the 1 to 1.5 levels using the IPI A-D
>strips (the color reference provided with the strips does not seem very
>accurate and it is difficult to be precise). This is below the
>autocatalytic point and below the critically endangered level, but the
>tapes clearly have the problem nonetheless. The collection consists of
>76 tapes recorded by ethnomusicologist Alan Merriam in 1951 in the Congo
>and accessioned here in 1966. The tapes have been stored in Scotch 111
>cardboard boxes, no plastic bags, in the ATM vault which maintains
>temperatures around 68F with 45% RH. These levels have become more
>consistent over the past few years--for the previous 30 years I can't
>say, but I think storage conditions were close to this although less
>consistent. Before the 1985 move into our present space conditions were
>probably not very good. We have tested 8 reels and they all show roughly
>the same level of VS. We have transferred around 35 reels so far--all
>smell like vinegar, but all are playing back fine with a little edge
>curling on a few of them. We are taking a few precautions--the playback
>machine (Studer 810) is situated by itself away from other things in the
>studio, we are wiping down the entire machine periodically, and we are
>careful about putting our MRL tape up on the machine even though it is
>polyester. ATM staff are meeting today to talk about how to store the
>collection.
>
>We have over 2,300 reels of 111 at the ATM and don't know how many of
>those are a problem, but I'll probably put together a survey. We've
>transferred many tapes on 111 over the past few years and haven't
>noticed VS until now. We have considered it stable and it has not given
>us many problems.
>
>The Music Library at IU has collections of Sarkes Tarzian tape
>exhibiting vinegar syndrome as well, with some tapes testing around 1
>but others testing at about 1.5. We also have this tape brand and
>suspect that it has VS.
>
>I would appreciate hearing from anyone else who has encountered vinegar
>syndrome problems with audio tape.
>
>Mike
>
>---------
>Mike Casey
>Associate Director for Recording Services
>Archives of Traditional Music
>Indiana University
>
>(812) 855-8090
>[log in to unmask]
>
>Co-chair, ARSC Technical Committee

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