Preserving 78-rpm records : what conclusions ? Six years of research at the French National Library
The National Library of France is hosting a research programme focused on the preservation of audio-visual and multimedia documents. Since 2007, this programme has concentrated on the chemical composition and degradation of 78-rpm records. These researches were restricted to the homogeneous 78-rpm discs that were manufactured between 1900 and 1924. This work firstly consisted of a review of the literature in order to find “recipes” or registers of raw materials used for the manufacturing of 78 rpm discs. Secondly, physicochemical analyses of the original discs were performed by GC-MS to corroborate the data found in the literature.
Since 2010, the research programme has been extended to the entire collection, both homogeneous and CPS discs manufactured after 1924. A statistical survey of the 78-rpm records collection was conducted in order to assess the extent of degradation, i.e. for the determination of the degradation patterns and evaluation of their frequencies. After this survey, a comparative study of the degradation types and the chemical compositions was undertaken in order to determine any possible correlations between them. Experimentation with artificial aging is now being planned.
The research programme ends in 2012. I will present the conclusions of 6 years of research on the preservation of 78-rpm records.