ViPIRS Quarter Inch Open Reel Survey Instructions
To begin data entry, click on “new input record” button in database’s start window.
Survey Input Form window will open. Begin survey.
> Media Type: Select media type “open reel”.
> Collection: Enter the collection which holds the item.
> Unique ID: Enter any unique identifier used for the item.
? Using duplicate barcodes apply two on the item as follows:
o Place one barcode on the upper left hand corner of the front of the tape container.
o On Side 1 of tape reel, place second barcode in the top center of the reel away
from the exposed tape pack and making sure that the barcode does not cover
– Close container and scan the barcode located on the container.
(You may find it more efficient to barcode an entire batch of ?” open reel tapes in
Start Visual Survey: Click on “start visual survey” button. Timing begins.
> Biological contamination: If present, select type of biological contamination.
? Fungal: Check the interior of the container and the edges of the tape for patterned
black, brown, or mustard-colored contamination and for fuzzy or thread-like growths.
? Pest: Check for evidence of pest (insect, rodent, etc.) infestation such as sightings of
the pests themselves, insect/rodent droppings, urine stains, tracks, and gnawing
NOTE: If a tape shows evidence of fungal contamination, such as mold, immediately
stop the inspection and consult with your supervisor. Quarantine the tape in an
appropriate storage location for further consultation with the archive‟s curator; the item
will most likely have to be sent to an outside lab for professional mold removal and
> “Waxy” or “dirty socks” odor: For polyester-based tapes only, select yes or no.
– Open tape storage box to inspect enclosed tape.
Hold up opened tape container with one hand a slight distance away from your nose.
– With your other hand, make a couple of quick fanning gestures over the opened tape
container towards your nose.
– Don‟t breathe in too deeply, but quickly observe whether tape is emitting a "waxy,"
"dirty socks," or "astringent/pungent" odor.
– These odors are indicative of a condition called binder hydrolysis, more commonly
known as “sticky shed syndrome,” a condition that places the item in a higher risk
> Vinegar odor: For acetate-based tapes only, select level of vinegar odor.
– Observe whether tape is emitting an odor of vinegar, indicative of a condition
commonly known as “vinegar syndrome.”
> Container: Select container type.
An archival quality container:
– Is constructed of acid-free paper or preferably, inert, flame-retardant plastic
– Has hub support
– Protects the tape from contamination
– Is in sound physical condition and free of damage
CONTAINER REHOUSING: If a tape is in a damaged container (or does not have one),
rehouse the tape in an archival quality container. If the original container has
important labeling information on it, return it to archive so that information can be
retained for cataloging purposes.
> Manufacturer: Record company name of tape manufacturer.
> Stock Brand: Record stock brand of tape.
“3M” is the manufacturer and “Scotch” is the stock brand name
of this ?” open reel tape
> Stock Number: Record stock number of tape.
“175” is the stock number of this ?” open reel tape
> Record Date: Record date as documented on item as MM/DD/YYYY. If there is more than stone date, record the earliest. If the date is non-specific, enter it as the 1 of the nearest month (06/01/1995 for “Summer „95” or “June ‟95”). For a date given as only a year, enter stJanuary 1 of that year (01/01/1995 for “1995”). If date is not documented on item, leave
> Known Running Time: Record running time documented on item in minutes. If seconds
documented on item are less than 30, round down to preceding minute (e.g., 15:29 = 15
minutes). If seconds documented on item equal or exceed 30, round up to next minute (e.g.,
15:30 = 16 minutes). If running time is not indicated on container or cassette, leave field
> Substrate: Select tape substrate.
– Substrate information is often recorded on tape‟s storage container.
– Hold up tape to the light. If you can see through it, it is acetate. If you cannot see
through it, it is polyester.
If fibers are present in the base material, the base is paper. –
> Thickness: Select tape thickness as documented on item.
Scotch ?” open reel tape box indicating tape thickness of 1.5 mil
> Equalization: Select equalization type as documented on item.
> Track configuration: Select track configuration type as documented on item.
Half-track configuration documented on tape box
> Tape Speed: Select tape speed as documented on item.
Tape speed of 7.5 ips documented on tape box
> Particulate contamination: If present, select type of particulate contamination.
? Check for evidence of particulate contamination such as dust, dirt, or any foreign
objects that can potentially cause damage to the item such as acidic adhesive tape
residue, glue, etc.
> Liquid contamination: If present, select type of liquid contamination.
> Reel Size: Select reel size.
> Reel: Select reel type.
An archival quality reel is:
– A 10.5” non-slotted metal reel constructed with a NAB metal hub
– In sound physical condition and free of damage
Archival 10.5” non-slotted metal reel with a NAB hub
> Wind: Select type of wind.
Look at tape pack for the following characteristics in order to determine whether tape has
an archival wind:
– Tape should be stored “tails out” to avoid playback distortion problems such as
print through. Tails out storage means the accessible end of the tape is the tail
(the end of the stock), with the head wound against the hub in the center of the
pack (i.e., tape must be rewound before playback).
– Open reel tapes must be stored with tape base facing out and the oxide layer
facing in (towards the center of the reel). This is the standard playback position
for open reel tape.
– Tape pack should exhibit an even and smooth wind (see below for description
and diagrams of non-archival tape packs).
– Exterior tape end should be secured to the reel with professional, non-invasive
adhesive paper tape. In traditional practice, red tape denotes tails out storage,
and blue tape denotes heads out storage.
Tape packs – the smoothness with which the tape is wound onto the hub – are not in an
archival wind if they exhibit:
* Popped strands
* Pack slip
* Flange pack
* End of tape is not secured to outside of reel
?” tape not in an archival wind with unsecured tape end
> Tape capacity percentage: Select tape capacity percentage.
– Estimate the size of the tape pack relative to total reel capacity. For example, if the
tape pack takes up ? of the reel capacity, then select 50%.
> Splices: Select yes or no. If unsure, leave blank.
– Splicing tape may be visible along the edge of the tape pack.
Evidence of tape splices along the edge of the tape pack
> General chemical breakdown: If present, select type of general chemical breakdown.
– Check for white powder and crystalline residue on the edges of the tape, and
examine tape for brittleness.
> Tape deformation: Select type of tape deformation.
? Breakage is a cut, tear or missing portion of the tape ? Cinching (or Folds) are sections of the tape within the pack that have wrinkled or
folded onto itself causing buckling and in severe cases can give the appearance of
? Cupping occurs when the tape curves into itself creating a U-shaped deformation
? Edge damage is a physical distortion of the top or bottom edge of the magnetic tape
which is usually caused by an uneven pack wind ? Gapping (or “Windowing”) is a buckling of tape strands that appear as gaps or
“windows” in the tape pack resulting from major tension loss ? Stretching is a form of deformation in which the tape is elongated either in width
and/or length usually caused by an improper wind or from use on faulty recording
and playback decks.
? Curling occurs when a tape coils or twists back onto itself when unwound
? Spoking, a tension problem, is identified as a “spoke-like” pattern radiating out from
> Oxide flaking: Select yes or no.
– Oxide flaking can be evidence of binder/base adhesion failure. The binder is the
portion of the tape that affixes the magnetic particles responsible for the capture of
the analog signal to the substrate. Binder/base adhesion failure is identified by
sections of the tape that appear to be flaking.
– Wearing lint-free cotton gloves, carefully hold the reel by the hub, not by the flange,
and begin to turn reel. Allow a few outer wraps of tape to hang loose past the leader
and examine for flaking; binder/base adhesion failure is also identified by sections of
the tape that appear as a different color where the binder has come off.
How to properly hold tape reel
> Adhesion: Select yes or no.
– Wearing lint-free cotton gloves, carefully hold the reel by the hub, not by the flange,
and begin to turn reel. Observe whether tape falls freely from the reel or if tape
adheres to itself. If tape seems to stick to the pack, this may be an indication of
“sticky shed syndrome.”
> Visual Survey Notes: Only record information that is essential in further identifying visual
inspection condition issues associated with the tape that has not already been recorded.
Stop Visual Survey: Click on “stop visual survey” button. Timing ends.
Set Visual Rating: Click on “set visual rating” button. Visual rating will appear.
Name of inspector: Enter the name of the person conducting visual inspection.
Observe the visual inspection rating. If the rating is 1, 2 or 3, the item has passed
visual inspection; proceed to playback inspection. If the rating is 4 or 5, the item has
failed visual inspection; DO NOT perform playback inspection.
1 = Excellent/no risk: Eligible for playback inspection.
2 = Good/small risk: Eligible for playback inspection.
3 = Fair/some risk: Eligible for playback inspection
4 = Poor/severe risk: Ineligible for playback inspection.
5 = Failed/extreme risk: Ineligible for playback inspection.
ADVICE REGARDING USE OF PLAYBACK DECKS: It is recommended that prior to
working on the playback inspection process, the surveyor should become familiar
with the decks that will be used. Operate decks a few times prior to the assessment in
order to become knowledgeable with the equipment. In addition to this, surveyor
should become familiar with the specific characteristics of the decks, such as
operational behavior (e.g., Does the deck make a particular sound during transport?
Does this sound occur each time it is in rewind, fast-forward, or play modes?).
Identifying such characteristics can be potentially helpful when assessing playback
condition because the surveyor may be able to ascertain the difference between a
distortion in the tape and the idiosyncrasies of the playback equipment.
PREPPING FOR PLAYBACK: Tapes should be played on decks that are clean, well-
maintained, and calibrated in order to achieve accurate playback. Make sure that a
qualified person frequently cleans the tape heads and tape transport components
(e.g., capstans and pinch rollers, etc.) of the deck in order to prevent playback errors.
Start Playback Survey: Click on “start playback survey” button in survey input form window.
1. Before beginning the survey, determine whether tape is wound heads out or
tails out. Industry practice has traditionally been to tape down the end of a
heads out reel with blue tape and a tails out reel with red tape. If this signifier
is not present load the tape on the left side of the deck, thread it through the
deck and onto the right hand take up reel, and briefly play it. A heads out tape
will play correctly. A tails out tape will play the recording in reverse.
2. After the wind has been determined, press “stop” on the deck.
3. If tape is wound heads out, keep the reel loaded on the left side of the playback
4. If tape is wound tails out, rewind it all the way back to the source reel.
4a. Remove the reel from the left side of the playback deck and load it
onto the right side of the playback deck.
4b. Thread tape end from the right side of the deck, through the deck
and onto the take up reel on the left side.
4c. Once tape is threaded, press “rewind” on the deck.
4d. Let tape rewind all the way so it is completely on the left side
source reel. Take special care near the end of the reel.
4e. Press “stop” on the deck.
5. Thread tape end from the left side of the deck, through the deck and onto the
reel on the right side.
6. Once tape is threaded, press “play” on the deck.
7. Let tape play for 1 minute. This will be the first segment of playback. Do not
start timing until the content has begun. At some point in the playback
process, remove headphones and listen for a moment to the sound of the tape
transport in the machine. Tape transport findings will be recorded after the
second playback segment.
– If tape transport begins to slow up or there are any signs of strain in
playback, IMMEDIATELY PRESS “STOP” on the deck. Let deck rest for a
few seconds, and press “rewind” on the deck. Let tape rewind to the head,
carefully remove tape reel from deck, tape down tape end and return reel to
– Note: Ideally, tape should be wound on a deck that is serviced to rewind
and fast-forward at a low (gentle) speed [often labeled “library wind”].