One of the most important parts of the digitisation of analogue recordings is to clean and maintain your playback equipment. Tapes which are sticky leave lots of gunk that builds up over the rollers, tape lifts, and heads. The playback head needs to be spotless to have the best opportunity to capture the full signal. Archival best practice means we’re trying to do everything we can to get the best signal on playback, so we clean our machines between every reel.
In the worst cases we even bake the tape overnight at 50°C in a conservation (not domestic!) oven. This drys out the moisture to give an opportunity for improved playback the next day. The British Library have many years of experience baking tapes and for this project provided all the UOSH hubs with a tried and tested food dehydrator. 12 hours on the mushroom setting works wonders!