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Cylinder, Disc and Tape Care in a Nutshell

Handling - Storage - Cleaning - Packaging, Containers - Playback Equipment - Bibliography - Supply Sources


Do not touch the playing surface/s of any recording.
Clean hands before handling recordings.


Handle all grooved discs (78s, 45s, LPs, and acetate discs) by their edge and label areas only. Handle compact discs by outer edge and center hole only.

Tape (Open Reels)

Handle by the outer edge of the reel flanges and center hub areas only. Do not squeeze flanges together -- it will damage tape edges.

Tape (Cassettes,
Audio and Video)

Handle by outer shell, only. Do not place fingers or any other materials into openings.


Handle by inserting middle and index fingers in the center hole, then gently spread them to just keep the cylinder from slipping off. Do not touch the grooves of wax cylinders; they are very susceptible to mold. Wax cylinders should be at room temperature before touching; the thermal shock from the warmth of your hand can cause cold wax cylinders to split.


Keep all discs and tape both open-reel and cassettes standing upright, on edge. Store cylinders standing on their ends. Do not lay any recording flat, not even audio or videocassettes.


Keep all storage and use areas clean.


(materials to be preserved for a minimum of 10 years, ANSI IT9.13, 1996) Storage areas should be kept at a constant 65 to 70° F and 45 to 50% Relative Humidity (RH). Widely fluctuating temperature or RH severely shortens the life span of all recordings. Environmental conditions shall not fluctuate more that ±10 F or ±10% RH over a 24-hour period. Keep recordings away from light, especially sunlight and unshielded fluorescent lights.

Long-term Storage

(Materials having permanent value) Storage areas should be kept at a constant 45 to 50° F or colder (do not store magnetic tapes below 46° F as it may cause lubrication separation from the tape binder) and 20 to 30% RH for magnetic tapes (open reel and cassette) and 45 to 50% RH for all others. Widely fluctuating temperature or RH severely shortens the life span of all recordings. Environmental conditions shall not fluctuate more that ±5° F or ±5% RH over a 24 hour period. Store in dark areas except when being accessed, being sure to keep recordings away from UV sources (unshielded fluorescent tubes and sunlight.)

Tape Demagnetization

In general, demagnetization is not a problem in most situations. For an added margin of safety to prevent demagnetization keep all tape (open reels and cassettes) away from potential sources of demagnetization, such as loudspeakers, most of which have sizable magnets in them. Do not set tapes on top of or leaning against any equipment which can be a source of either magnetic fields or heat. Be careful about operating machines with electric motors (e.g., vacuum cleaners) next to tape storage areas.


Recordings are surprisingly heavy. For example, LPs average between 35 and 45 pounds per shelf-foot; 78 rpm and acetate discs are even heavier. Because of their shape and the design of their packaging, recordings will concentrate their weight in the centerline of a shelf, which can cause some shelving to collapse. Make sure that the shelving you choose is solid and well constructed.


Must be shelved vertically. Ideally, disc shelving should have full-height and full-depth dividers, spaced 4 to 6 inches apart, and secured at top and bottom. Less than full-height dividers may contribute to warpage. Interfiling discs of different diameter may also cause warpage.

Tapes (Open reel)

Boxes should be stored vertically. Dividers are not essential, but the boxes must be secured with a bookend and not allowed to fall.

Tapes (Cassettes,
Audio and Video)

Cassettes in water repellent plastic containers should be stored vertically "on edge," not flat.


Stored standing "on end," like a drinking glass.

Winding tapes

Contrary to what your local video-store may say, tapes, including cassettes, should not be stored in the rewound or fast-forwarded position. Ideally, play a tape completely through, then store it without rewinding. Rewind it just before playing it again.


Most record sleeves should be replaced with a high density polyethylene such as DiscWasher V.R.P., Mobile Fidelity Original Master Sleeve, or Nagaoka No. 102 Anti-Static Record Sleeve. If an original paper sleeve contains text or graphics, the Nagaoka sleeves are thin enough to fit inside the paper sleeve.

Some plastic or plastic-lined sleeves should not be used. As a rule of thumb, "bad" sleeves are clear and have a sticky or tacky feel whereas "good" sleeves are frosted in appearance and have a slippery feel.

Tape (Open reels) Replace any reel which has a slotted hub. Only reels with unslotted hubs are acceptable for storage. Reels with slotted hubs may be used as take-up reels.

Cleaning Solution for Audio Records, CDs, and DVDs

The following cleaning solution is used by the Library of Congress for cleaning acetate, lacquer, shellac, and vinyl records as well as CDs and DVDs. It has not been compared for its effectiveness against commercial products.


Whereas the Preservation Directorate is pleased to share this information, no guarantee is implied or intended that it will meet the needs of all users. Institutions or individuals who prepare or use the solution must do so at their own risk. The Library of Congress will not be liable for any injury to any person, animal, or ecosystem, or damage to any item resulting from the use of any of the materials, chemicals, or procedures described here.


We strongly advise against the handling of the ingredients, preparation of the cleaning solution, and the use of the cleaning solution by persons who are not trained in the safe handling of chemicals and disposal of hazardous wastes. Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn during the preparation and use of the cleaning solution.

Preparation and Directions for Use

1. To prepare 4 L (~ 1 gal) of solution, place 2 mL of Tergitol™ 15-S-7 Surfactant into a suitable container (glass, stainless steel type 304 or 316, fiberglass-reinforced polyester, polyethylene, or polypropylene) and fill with deionized water. This results in a 0.05% solution.
2. Store the solution in a non-food refrigerator to avoid degradation and transfer what is immediately needed to a spray bottle for manual cleaning or other container for mechanized cleaning.
3. Store the pure Tergitol™ in its original container (preferably under nitrogen) and in a non-food refrigerator to avoid degradation that causes an undesirable color and odor.
4. To manually clean records, CDs, or DVDs manually, spray the solution onto the surface, and wipe with an eyeglass or other similar soft wipe to remove contaminants. ALWAYS FOLLOW CLEANING WITH A THOROUGH RINSING WITH DEIONIZED WATER TO REMOVE ALL TRACES OF DETERGENT: LEAVING DETERGENT ON THE OBJECT MIGHT FACILITATE DEGRADATION OF THE OBJECT. Finally, wipe the object dry using a soft, nonabrasive, lint-free cloth.
5. To clean records, CDs, or DVDs in a mechanized cleaner, place just enough solution into the cleaner reservoir so that fresh solution is used each day (or remove the solution every day and store in a non-food refrigerator). ALWAYS FOLLOW CLEANING WITH A THOROUGH RINSING WITH DEIONIZED WATER TO REMOVE ALL TRACES OF DETERGENT: LEAVING DETERGENT ON THE OBJECT MIGHT FACILITATE DEGRADATION OF THE OBJECT. Finally, wipe the object dry using a soft, nonabrasive, lint-free cloth. This last hand-drying step may not be necessary if a record-cleaning machine with a vacuum arm is being used.

MSDSs and Other Information

The following links can be accessed to obtain a copy of the technical data for Tergitol™ 15-S-7 Surfactant, the MSDS for Tergitol™ 15-S-7 Surfactant, and the Library of Congress MSDS for the Record Cleaning Solution. Because the Record Cleaning Solution contains less than 1% of Tergitol™, it does not have to be listed on the MSDS.

1. Tergitol™ Technical Data

2. Tergitol™ MSDS

3. MSDS for Library of Congress Record Cleaning Solution



Child, Margaret S. Directory of information sources on scientific research related

to the preservation of sound recordings, still and moving images, and magnetic tape. Washington, D.C.: Commission on Preservation and Access; c1993. 14 p.

Gibson, Gerald D. "Preservation and conservation of sound recordings." In: Henderson,

Kathryn Luther; Henderson, William T. Conserving and preserving materials in non-book formats. Allerton Park Institute Conference; 1988 November 6-9; Urbana. Urbana-Champaign, Illinois: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Graduate School of Library and Information Science; 1991. 27-44.

Media Stability Studies : Resources for archivists, records managers, and individuals responsible

for storing information at www.nml.org/MediaStability

Pickett, A. G.; Lemcoe, M. M. Preservation and storage of sound recordings : A Study

supported by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Washington, D.C: Library of Congress; 1959. vii, 74 p.
Note: Bibliography; photographs; illustrations; diagrams. Reprint available from Association for Recorded Sound Collections; attn Elwood McKee; 118 Monroe St., Apt. 610; Rockville, MD 20850-2511. The basic document on the preservation and storage of all audio recordings before CDs reports on a study of preservation and storage of the more common sound recordings of the period. Conclusions include information and-or recommendations on storage environment, control of mold and fungus, furniture, and packaging.

Schiller, Dietrich. "Handling, storage, and preservation of sound recordings under tropical and

sub-tropic climatic conditions." IN: Fontes Artis Musicae; 1986; (33): 100-104.

Varcla, Allan. "Art of audio archiving in the '90s." Pro Sound News. 1994 Mar 15;

Note: Presents the complications in archiving that have taken place with the advent of digital audio recording technology, most notably incompatibility of systems and/or media. Presents comments on analog tapes from John Matarazzo, manager of technical services for Sony, concerning binder breakdown, crystallizing or oxidizing of lubricants, and treatment resulting in temporary stability in order to make working copies; continues with uncertainty of how well digital tapes store and critical nature of temperature and humidity in storage, with information on metal evaporated tape, with some of advantages of optical recording technology, that Open Media Framework (OMF) is addressing problem of incompatibility and back up systems. "The requirements of OMF are that we continually keep it backwardly compatible so, as we extend the capabilities in the file format and the specification, we will continue to support the things that were in there originally. That means that you can never have an OMF file that you can't go back to and open and process with the capabilities that you have at that time."


American National Standards Institute. Optical disc media : Storage. New York LANSI,

1997 (ANSI/NAPM IT9.25-1997).

Berger, Myron. "Record Cleaners and the Real World." High Fidelity 3 (7): 43-46 (July 1980)

Bouley, Raymond J. "The Life and death of CD-ROM." CD-ROM Librarian. 1992 Jan : 146-151.

"Compact disc problems." Conservation Administration News. 1989; (36): 20.

Note: Information on problems with compact disc in relation to deterioration caused by label ink, oxidation of aluminum, and storage conditions.

Day, Rebecca. "Where's the rot? A Special report on CD longevity." Stereo Review. 1989 Apr; 54(4): 23-24.

Fantel, Hans. "Pampered record can live to be 100." New York Times. ; 1976 Oct 10; D: 26-28.

Note: Reports on tests of LP record wear, and on cleaning devices and agents, measuring the increase of noise and distortion in successive plays of discs cleaned each time before playing. Concludes that such a disc almost as good after 200 plays as when new, but that a dirty, neglected disk may be badly damaged in less than twenty plays.

Fantel, Hans. "Keeping it clean : Solutions for record care." Opera news. 1977 Apr 2; 41: 38-39.

Note: Includes information on Zerostat, Staticmaster, Discwasher, Radio Shack's Hydro-Stor, Audio-Technica's AT610, Watts' Disc-Preener and Manual Parastat, Audio Technica AT6002, Vac-O-Rec, and Fidelipac's Spin & Clean Record Washer.

Foster, Edward J. "A Selected--and Selective--Bestiary of Disc-Care Accessories." High Fidelity 28

(2): 43-48 (February 1978)

Hyperion Bronzed CDs : A Note about corroding CDs manufactured by Philips and DuPont Optical

at www.hyperion-record.co.uk

Lumley, Enid. "Record Cleaning Machines." IAR Hotline 23: 7-17 (July 1982)

Lumley, Enid. "Record Cleaning Fluids." IAR Hotline 23: 1-7 (July l982)

Maier, Bruce. "In Search of the Perfect Record Cleaner." High Fidelity 22 (9) 52-55 (September 1972)

Mastricola, Scott. "Record Wear." Stereo Review 36 (6): 56-60 (July 1976)

Pisha, B. V. "Record Cleaners Revisited." Audio 54 (5): 40-49 (May 1970)

Ranada, David. "How to Handle Records." Stereo Review 47 (9): 62-63 (September 1982)

Saffady, William. "Stability, care, and handling of microforms, magnetic media, and optical

disks." Library Technology Reports. 1991 Feb; 27(1): 5-116.

Note: Bibliographic references. Reports on survey of currently available information about the stability, care, and handling of non-book media, including microforms, magnetic media, and optical disks. Organized according to media type, each including an introduction to the media and to its physical and application characteristics; description of recording technologies and technical processes; scientific information about stability; discussion of environmental and other factors which can affect the chemical behavior and physical properties of the media; and guidelines for care, handling and storage.

Woodcock, Roberick; Wielage, Marc. "Laser rot." Video. 1987 Apr : 49-52.

Note: Includes description of deterioration of signal on video discs and possible causes; gives partial list of some titles where problem has been found.


Ampex Corp. Guide to the care and handling of magnetic tape. Redwood City, CA:

Ampex Recording Media Corp.

Note: Modified reprint included in VanBogart, John W. C.: Magnetic tape storage and handling : A Guide for libraries and archives (Washington, D.C., St. Paul, MN; Commission on Preservation and Access, National Media Lab, 1995)

Ampex Corp; Ostertag, John. Product Information : 467 R-DAT Digital Audio Tape :

Competitive Performance Review [press release]. Redwood City, CA: Ampex Recording Media Corp.; [1994]. 3 p.

Note: Reviews the performance characteristics of the cited Ampex product; in doing so, includes the strongest statement yet from a manufacturer concerning use of R-DAT as an archival medium: "Ampex's position about archiving valuable source programming to R-DAT is simple. We do not recommend it." They, then, give three reasons why it is not advocated: retrievability of damaged analog vs. total loss of digital data; future access to recorders and lack of experience with media and systems; and doubtful interchangability of tape and machines.

Audio Engineering Society. AES Recommended practice for audio preservation and restoration:

Storage of polyester-based magnetic tape. New York; AES. 1997 (AES22-1997)

DeLancie, Philip. "Sticky-shed syndrome: Tips on saving your damaged tape."

In: Mix Magazine; 1990 May: 148-152.

Note: Describes the problems, the likely causes, and a proposed solution to the sticky-shed problem with magnetic tape.

Fox, Barry. "Master tapes come to sticky end." In: New Scientist; 1992 September 22; 127(1735): 15.

Note: Reports problem of deteriorating sound recording tape, result of which is that the tapes are very difficult to run and may, in serious cases, jam in the recorder. The cause is thought to be the deterioration of the polyurethane binder used to hold the magnetic material onto the tape base, probably caused by hydrolysis of the polyurethane brought about by atmospheric moisture adsorbed onto the tape surface. A method for temporarily reducing the problem so that copy recordings can be made is described.

VanBogart, John W. C. Magnetic tape storage and handling : A Guide for libraries and archives.

Washington, D.C., St. Paul, MN: Commission on Preservation and Access, National Media Lab; 1995. [4], ii, 34 p; ISBN: 1-887334-40-8.

Note: Available from Commission on Preservation and Access; 1400 16th St., NW, Suite. 740; Washington, D.C. 20036-2217. Illustrated; bibliography; glossary. Includes reprint of Ampex 'Guide to the care and handling of magnetic tape'; estimation of magnetic tape life expectancies; and a resources list for transfer and restoration of video and audio tape. Focuses on how to properly store and care for magnetic media to maximize their life expectancies. Includes technical explanations for the rationale behind recommended procedures, written specifically for those who do not have a significant background in recording technology. Topics covered include what can go wrong with magnetic media, preventing information loss, life expectancy (how long will magnetic media last), prevention of premature degradation (care, handling, storage, staging, refreshing of media), and a reprint of the Ampex 'Guide to the care and handling of magnetic tapes.'

Supply Sources
Bill Cole Enterprises
P.O. Box 60 Dept. RLC2
Randolph, MA 02368-0060
Tel: (781) 986-2653
Fax: (781) 986-2656
E-mail: bcemylar@internetmci.com
DiscWasher, Inc.
A Div. of Recoton
46-23 Crane Street
Long Island City, NY 11101
Tel: (800) 223-6009
Fax: (718) 784-1080
Gaylord Brothers
PO Box 4901
Syracuse, NY 13221-4901
Tel: (800) 634-6307
Fax: (800) 272-3412
The LAST Factory
2015 Research Drive
Livermore, CA 94550
Tel: (925) 449-9449
Fax: (925) 447-0662
Merit Champion
Attn: Artie Chaplin
40-46 28th Street
Long Island City, NY 11101
(212) 301- 0105
Fax: (212) 320-4354
Nitty Gritty Record Care Products
4650 Arrow Highway, F-4
Montclair, CA 91763
(909) 625-5525
Fax: (909) 625-5526
E-mail: www.nittygrittyinc.com
University Products
P.O. Box 101
517 Main Street
Holyoke, MA 01041-0101
(800) 628-1912
Fax: (413) 532-9281
V.P.I. Industries Inc.
77 Cliffwood Ave. No. 3B
Cliffwood, NJ 07721
(732) 946-8606
Fax: (732) 946-8578

The preservation procedures described here have been used by the Library of Congress in the care of its collections and are considered suitable by the Library as described; however, the Library will not be responsible for damage to your collection should damage result from the use of these procedures.

Revised 7/02

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