As a part of the digitization project for Association of University and College Employees (AUCE) fonds, we digitized an audio cassette tape entitled “The Steward”, which is a speech recording about being a union steward. Today, we will show how we digitize an audio cassette tape.



To digitize a cassette, we use the following equipment:

  • Cassette tape deck: An ION Tape 2 PC USB cassette deck
  • Audio capture and editing software: We use Audacity, a free, open-source application
  • Computer: A Mac Pro running macOS 10.14.5


Damage repair

Before starting the digitization, we had to repair the tape as it was broken (this is common with older cassette tapes), and we took this opportunity to put the tape in a new housing (the original housing is shown above). It is important to have the tape in optimal condition before digitization and preservation.


Digitization Process

We followed the sample workflow for tape digitization in the Audacity wiki.

  1. First, the cassette deck (Tape 2 PC) is connected to the Mac to export the audio for digitization. We connected the USB cable directly to a free USB port on the Mac, and turned it on.

USB port is on the left. The Tape 2 PC also has an RCA output.


  1. Since we are using a Mac, we needed to set up an audio input to ensure that the Tape 2 PC signal could be picked up by the Audacity software. We set a sample rate of 44100 Hz and 16-bit format which is the standard for CD burning. For more information, please follow the instructions in the Audacity wiki, Mac and USB input devices.
  2. Once all the settings were made, we did a test recording and made sure the levels were correct (i.e. no clipping, a form of sound distortion). We aimed for a maximum peak of -6 dB.

The green bar should not reach more than -6 dB.


  1. Then we started the digitization. We played the cassette in the deck first and clicked the recording button in Audacity immediately after. Since we recorded both sides of the tape, we paused the recording after the first side and resumed after switching to the second side.

Cassette is played for digitization.

Audacity interface on the Mac.


Exporting a file for access and preservation

Once the tape is digitized, we exported the file in WAV format. WAV with linear (uncompressed) PCM is a preferred and recommended format for long-term preservation. Once we upload it to our content management system, we will digitally preserve it with Archivematica.

For access purposes, we converted the WAV file to MP3 format. MP3 is a compressed audio file which is widely supported and playable on nearly all devices with a more manageable file size.

Once metadata is created for the exported file, the audio will be ready to upload.

Please find the recording on UBC Rare Books and Special Collections’ Access to Memory (AtoM) database. The audio will soon be available in Open Collections!


See also

In 1973 library and clerical workers on university and college campuses across British Columbia began organizing as a union in order to represent their collective interests. Workers at University of British Columbia (Local 1), Simon Fraser University (Local 2), Notre Dame University of Nelson (Local 3), Capilano College (Local 4), College of New Caledonia (Local 5), and the Teaching Support Staff at S.F.U. (Local 6) organized over the next two years to collectively form the provincial wide and independent union, the Association of University and College Employees (AUCE).


Association of University and College Employees. Communications (2 of 2), 1980.


AUCE 1 was the first union in Canada to negotiate maternity leave benefits, a historic win for Canadians across the country and still a leave provision that is envied by many countries around the world. Over the next decade AUCE also fought for fair wages, transparent job classifications, child care, and a discrimination-free workplace for people of all genders, sexualities, races, and ethnicities.


Association of University and College Employees. [Provincial Bargaining Strategies conference records], 1982.


The recently launched AUCE Fonds digital collection is a project that was undertaken with the support of CUPE 2950 – Clerical, Library and Theatre Workers at the University of British Columbia and the British Columbia History Digitization Program. With the project having finished its first year, the AUCE Fonds project has made available 13,000 pages of more than 3,100 digital objects and digitization is continuing into the second year of the project.


Association of University and College Employees. Cap Communicator (vol. 2, no. 3), 1977.


In 1987, AUCE members voted to become a chartered local union of the CUPE, CUPE Local 2950. They are an operating local chapter today and is one of the first trade unions in the province to make its records freely available. The digitized materials include newsletters, meeting minutes, correspondence, collective agreements, and ephemera and will appeal to researchers in labour studies, women’s studies, political science, economics, and sociology.


Association of University and College Employees. [Organizing new locals], 1981.


Explore the collection through the following themes:

Materials are still being digitized and added to the collection.

For more information on the project and to view the growing collection, please visit Due to copyright and privacy concerns, some items have been redacted and others have not been digitized. Please visit the RBSC finding aid to explore the fonds in full.


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