Audiocassette Tapes

An extremely popular portable audio format, standard or “compact” audiocassettes came of age in the 1960s and were commonly used well into the 2000s.  The microcassette, a smaller profile but utilizing the same tape, was also very popular with journalists and interviewers needing enhanced portability.


Audiocassettes are a fairly hardy format, although they can suffer from sticky shed syndrome, like their polyester-based open-reel cousins.  The shell, rather than the tape, is the liability, and often replacing the shell can revive the playback of a stubborn tape. Note that microcassettes can be played back if re-shelled into a standard audiocassette shell. Audio cassettes should be stored upright, on the long spine where the cassette case opens (opposite the spine that typically carries the label). Place the ID label on the spine of the case facing up unless it has critical information written on its exterior, that is, not on the insert card but on the outside of the case itself.  If the case’s spine does have writing on its exterior, place the ID on the face of the cassette case. Magnetic media can generally cohabit with paper without any issues. Store in cool storage, such as provided by the LSC, but do not freeze.

At-Minimum Housing

Stand upright in the original case.

Typical Housing

Stand upright in specialty audio cassette cases or boxes.

High-End Housing

Ensure each tape has a case, or replace if necessary. Affix a second label to the face of the cassette capsule (shell).

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