The worldwide stock of audio and videotapes in archival custody is estimated to be at least 40-50 million hours. Tape deterioration, most prominently binder degradation of the magnetic layer, sooner or later calls for the migration of these holdings onto new carriers. This migration, specifically the digitization of analog formats, is extremely labor intensive and will take many years, most probably decades. This time horizon calls for proper prioritizing of digitization/migration: immediately endangered materials must come first, while (yet) stable materials may wait. Consequently, valid and easily applicable methods for predicting the life expectancy (LE) of magnetic tapes are the key to a successful strategy in audio and video preservation.
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