Joan Yasui at the Oregon State Fair (1959)

Magnetic Tape Crisis

Chairs: Melitte Buchman and Peter Brothers

The Magnetic tape Crisis Committee is being created to promote awareness and to develop concrete tools and strategies to cope with the growing crisis faced by videotape collections. Magnetic tape that exhibits decreasing ability to maintain information over time includes both older analog tapes and more recent digital formats. All of these assets are at risk due to both their physical makeup as well as ongoing playback obsolescence. Emphasis of the group will include severely at risk artist made tapes, tapes from especially endangered eras or manufacturing procedures identified as subject to rapid decay, and more recent tapes that are at risk due to technical issues and/or scarcity of playback machinery.  The committee will organize at least one meeting at the annual conference, propose plenary and panel sessions to the Conference Committee, develop online resources for sharing concrete information about such issues as prioritizing tape stocks, and maintain an e-mail list that allows committee members to engage in on-line discussions..


Identify issues that endanger the preservation of content currently on magnetic tape;  encourage public and institutional awareness by disseminating information and documentation highlighting the growing crisis of potential content loss of records on magnetic tape; and, review, develop and disseminate tools or guidelines to assist collections dealing with the content loss crisis.