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Packing Rare Audio Content

Purpose

In the fall of 2014, the National Museum of African American History and Culture prepared 24 audio discs of varying formats for travel in order to digitize their rare audio content. Five of these discs exhibited varying degrees of delamination and required innovative packing and long-term storage solutions. All five discs were given their own enclosure and then placed into one large box for stability and transport.

Author

Alison Reppert Gerber
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
3400 Pennsy Drive
Landover, MD, 20785
Tel: 301-238-2022
reppertgerbera@si.edu
www.nmaahc.si.edu
 

Photo Credit: Alison Reppert Gerber
Publication: 2016

 

Description

A simple clamshell-style box from archival blue board was first created. Using flexible polyethylene foam cut into circles (6″ in diameter) and wooden dowels wrapped in plumber’s tape, the disc was secured in the box while suspending the grooved portion of the disc, which was the primary area suffering from delamination of the nitrocellulose lacquer coating. By adding hook and loop closures to the exterior of the box, it could safely be transported vertically to reduce surface tension on the disc.

Materials, Tools & Supplies

  • Corrugated blue board
  • Utility knife
  • Metal straight edge/ruler
  • Low-melt archival adhesive and gun
  • Wooden dowel (3/16″ diameter)
  • Jeweler’s saw
  • Thread seal tape (aka plumber’s tape)
  • Polyethylene foam
  • Twill tape
  • Hook and loop adhesive dots

Construction

1. First, create a simple clamshell box made from archival blue board using a utility knife, metal straight edge and low-melt archival adhesive. For the 16″ transcription discs, the interior dimensions of the box should be 18″ x 18″, allowing 2″ around the disc. The depth should be 1″.  For step-by-step instructions to creating a clamshell box, you can follow these guidelines provided by the Royal Historical Society of Victoria::  http://www.historyvictoria.org.au/socguide/pdf/box2.pdf
 
2. Cut four circles of flexible, closed cell polyethylene foam measuring 6″ in diameter. Each circle should be ¼” in depth. Using the low-melt adhesive, glue one circle to another to get two foam discs measuring ½” in depth.
 
3. Assess how many center holes there are in the audio disc to be housed. In this example, there is one peg needed to properly secure the disc in the box. 
Figure 1: Transcription disc with one center hole.

Figure 1: Transcription disc with one center hole.

 
4. Using a jeweler’s saw, cut the 3/16″ wooden dowel into 1″ pegs (or the inner depth of the box).
Figure 2: Using a jeweler’s saw to cut the wooden dowel into pegs.

Figure 2: Using a jeweler’s saw to cut the wooden dowel into pegs.

 
5. Wrap each of the pegs in plumber’s tape to provide a smooth surface for the disc. Be sure to stretch the tape around tightly to achieve good adhesion. This will prevent any scratches from occurring caused by the unfinished wooden dowel.
Figure 3: Wrapping the wooden dowel in plumber’s tape.

Figure 3: Wrapping the wooden dowel in plumber’s tape.

 
6. Place the peg in the center of one of the ½” foam discs by cutting a small “X” in the center of the foam and pushing the peg through until you can just see the end. Glue the foam disc and peg onto the center of the interior base of the clamshell box, being sure to apply enough glue around the peg to ensure proper adhesion to the base of the box.
Figure 4: Gluing the foam disc and pegs into the bottom section of the clamshell box.

Figure 4: Gluing the foam disc and pegs into the bottom section of the clamshell box.

 
7. Glue the second foam disc to the interior of the lid. NOTE: When you close the box, the peg(s) attached to the base will create an indentation in the upper foam disc. Cut a small “X” in the upper foam to allow the peg to properly seat when the box is closed.
Figure 5: Overall view of the interior of the box with foam supports.

Figure 5: Overall view of the interior of the box with foam supports.

 
8. To secure the box lid, cut three (3) strips of twill tape (3″ in length). Cut a small slit in the upper edge of the top lid to allow for the tape to be threaded to the interior of the box.
Figure 6: Cut a slit in the lid and thread tape through to the interior.

Figure 6: Cut a slit in the lid and thread tape through to the interior.

 
Glue the tape to the interior of the lid.
Figure 7: Glue twill tape to the interior of the lid.

Figure 7: Glue twill tape to the interior of the lid.

 
Attach hook and loop adhesive dots to the end of the twill tape and the underside of the box to create a fastening mechanism to keep the box closed.
Figure 8: Attaching hook and loop fasteners.

Figure 8: Attaching hook and loop fasteners.

Repeat this process to the other two sides of the lid.
 
 
9. Before each box is placed into a larger box for transportation and long-term storage, attach a loop made of twill tape to the front exterior lid. This will facilitate removing each box from the larger housing.
Figure 9: Attach twill tape loop to facilitate the removal of each box from the larger housing.

Figure 9: Attach twill tape loop to facilitate the removal of each box from the larger housing.

 
10. Assess how many individual boxes you would like to store in a larger box, with six (6) being the maximum recommended. Measure the height, width, and depth of the boxes as a unit. Create a standard box with a lid based on these measurements.
Figure 10: Overall view of the outer storage box.]

Figure 10: Overall view of the outer storage box.

 
11. Carefully slide each audio record box into the larger housing for long-term storage and transport.
Figure 11: Detailed view of the interior of the outer storage box.

Figure 11: Detailed view of the interior of the outer storage box.

 

Literature Cited

The Royal Historical Society of Victoria guide: http://www.historyvictoria.org.au/socguide/pdf/box2.pdf
 

Keywords

transcription discs, storage, preventive conservation, audio, electronic media, travel
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