You spin me right round

Natalie Cassaniti cleaning a gramophone record

Natalie Cassaniti cleaning a gramophone record

A new machine purchased by the Library late last year has sparked curious looks from staff and visitors to our Collection Care lab.

We acquired the Loricraft PRC3 EVO Black professional record cleaning machine to prepare the Library’s gramophone record collection for digitisation.

The collection includes around 650 records. Many of these, such as the Michael Francis Bacon voice records, are completely unique as they feature one-off recordings on 5-inch aluminium discs.

Michael Francis Bacon voice records sent to Mary Catherine Bacon and Henry John Bacon

Michael Francis Bacon voice records sent to Mary Catherine Bacon and Henry John Bacon, 13 and 17 November 1936

Some of the fragile lacquer discs, shellac and vinyl records in the collection are at risk due to issues in preservation and playback. All the records require cleaning to remove the dust and grime that diminishes the sound quality when they are digitised. The Loricraft is a wet cleaning machine that cleans into the grooves of the record with a mild detergent solution, while at the same time removing fingerprints and other residue from the surface. 

Collection Care staff were given a hands-on training session by Digital Media Technical Analyst Damien Cassidy (Digitisation & Imaging), using records by Rupert Hine and the Eurythmics. We found the machine very quiet and easy to use. Both sides of the records were cleaned in a couple of minutes. The Digitisation team has so far cleaned 120 discs, including a 2GB newsreel recording of an interview with designer Florence Broadhurst in 1954.

After they are cleaned, the records are rehoused in archival enclosures, ready for digitisation. In some cases, like the Broadhurst disc, staff will photograph the record itself as well as digitising the recording.

The Loricraft machine is a useful asset in caring for the Library’s gramophone record collection and making it more accessible to State Library readers.

Lang Ngo, Hoa Huynh and Keyeele Lawler-Dormer
Digitisation team, Collection Care