Packing Rare Audio Content
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.
Alison Reppert Gerber
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
3400 Pennsy Drive
Landover, MD, 20785
Photo Credit: Alison Reppert Gerber
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
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.
4. Using a jeweler’s saw, cut the 3/16″ wooden dowel into 1″ pegs (or the inner depth of the box).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Glue the 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.
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.
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.
11. Carefully slide each audio record box into the larger housing for long-term storage and transport.
The Royal Historical Society of Victoria guide: http://www.historyvictoria.org.au/socguide/pdf/box2.pdf
transcription discs, storage, preventive conservation, audio, electronic media, travel