Magnetic Tape Alert Project

Magnetic tape replay equipment is fading out

An initiative of the Information for All Programme (IFAP) Working Group on Information Preservation

magnetic audio and video tapes
magnetic audio and video tapes

Today’s knowledge of the linguistic and cultural diversity of humanity is widely based on magnetic tape recordings produced over the past 60 years. Magnetic audio and video tape formats are now obsolete. Spare parts supply and service is fading, replay equipment in operable condition is disappearing rapidly, and routine transfer of magnetic tape documents is estimated to end around 2025. The only way to preserve these sounds and images in the long term, and to keep them accessible for future generations, is their digitisation and transfer to safe digital repositories.

While many professional memory institutions have already secured their audiovisual holdings, or have planned to do so in time, a great part of audio and video recordings are still in their original state, kept in small academic or cultural institutions, or in private hands.

UNESCO logo

IASA logo

With the Magnetic Tape Alert Project, the Information for All Programme (IFAP) of UNESCO, in cooperation with IASA, the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives, intends to alert stakeholders of the imminent threat of losing access to their audiovisual documents. Part of this is to conduct a survey of existing audiovisual documents on magnetic tape that are not yet digitally preserved. The survey focusses on unique recordings rather than copies.

The information obtained through the survey on collections at risk will serve as a basis for the planning of adequate solutions for the safeguarding of these irreplaceable original documents in the long-term. Information gathered will be kept on the IASA website and will be used to compile a report that will be made publicly available. Names and addresses will be disclosed publicly only with permission.

To respond to the survey, please fill out the form below then press 'Submit'.

Deadline for completion: 30 September 2019


Survey of audiovisual collections on magnetic tape, endangered by the rapidly increasing unavailability of replay equipment.

1. Holder of the collection
Where the collection is held
This information is required but you may opt to keep it private
2. Content of the collection.
This survey concentrates on unique recordings. Please indicate main focuses in terms of subjects and regions where recordings were made, for example, oral/visual history, language/dialect, folk/traditional music, dances, rituals, cultural, historical and political documentation, popular music, natural sounds, radio content.
Admin note (not visible): Word limit is stated to 500 except for Chinese characters language version where it states 750. In practise the limit is capped at 750 words for all language versions
3. Number of magnetic tapes in the collection
Estimate the number (digits only, no commas) for each format in the collection.
Audio

open reel
Video
4) Is there a preservation plan in place for the transfer of contents from original carriers to a digital repository?
Preservation plan options1
transfer to digital:
transfer to digital:
transfer to digital2
transfer to digital:
5) Availability and maintenance of modern replay equipment and professional staff
equipment
professional maintenance
trained staff
6) In case of positive answers to 4 and 5: Would you be ready to assist other institutions?
assist
7) Would you welcome training in audiovisual preservation?
Choose any number of options.
training
8) Comments
Admin note (not visible): Word limit is stated to 400 except for Chinese characters language version where it states 600. In practise the limit is capped at 600 words for all language versions

Agreement

By filling in this questionnaire, I support the intention of the Magnetic Tape Alert Project that the information provided through the questionnaire will serve as a basis for the planning of adequate solutions for the safeguarding of these irreplaceable original documents in the long term.

I agree that information gathered will be kept by UNESCO and IASA and made accessible to (national) institutions, including government ministries/departments, and UNESCO Commissions.

I also agree that provided information will be used to compile a report that will be made publicly available.
(this information will not be made public)
(this information will not be made public)
Collection privacy option
Select one option before pressing the Submit button below.