What should I do if I can no longer playback my A/V item?

If the item can't be played due to lack of the appropriate playback machine, the recording can be reformatted for continued access.

If tape or film can't be played back because of damage, professional audio-visual preservation service providers may be able to render the media playable in order to reformat to digital. A quick Internet keyword search reveals a range of providers that can digitize tape and film. Look for a provider that specializes in archival or preservation transfer of the specific original format. Avoid providers that outsource the reformatting work overseas. Do not attempt to playback damaged tape or film, which will further damage the media and also the playback equipment.

Depending on the nature of damage, damaged records or cylinders may be digitized by an imaging technology called IRENE, a service offered by the Northeast Document Conservation Center.

If an audio or visual optical disc can't be played back or playback is faulty, it may be possible to recover the disc by "ripping" the data to a computer hard drive and then burning the files onto a new optical disc (choose a reliable brand). Rip at the lowest possible speed. If possible, increase the tolerance level on the ripping software. Research different ripping/burning software options and choose one that is well designed. There are also service providers (find with a keyword Internet search) that specialize in this kind of recovery work.


Last Updated: Mar 02, 2021
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Preservation Directorate
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. SE
Washington, D.C.  20540-4530

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