October is American Archives Month. Do you have home videos? Do you want to know how to preserve them? Check out (former) Curator of Audiovisual Collection Curator Paul Eisoeffel’s 6 tips on how to take care of your home videos.
- Most importantly, videotape is not an archival medium. It’s not meant to last, but rather to be convenient to use and playback. Even when stored correctly, videotape may degrade over time, making it unplayable.
- Have your videos transferred to a digital format by a reputable lab. This is the best way to preserve their content, and it makes it easier for you to view and share that content.
- Store your videotapes in a cool, dry place, away from sources of fumes and water. Unfinished attics and basements are usually not good venues.
- When viewing videotapes, avoid using the forward and reverse scan features. And always rewind the tapes to the beginning when done.
- Describe the scenes in your videos. Get family members and friends to help if necessary. Number the videotapes and list them on separate paper. This makes sure that the content is understood by later generations.
- Pop out the tab in the back of videotapes, to prevent accidental erasure.
(Updated October 12, 2023)