Most of the records currently housed in the lower vault are audio tapes created by the Oregon Legislative Assembly. These tapes provide a verbatim record of the discussions held in committees and on the floor of the House and Senate. The tapes provide a more complete record than minutes, which only summarize the proceedings. This information can be valuable in determining "legislative intent" often considered in court cases. The tapes begin in 1957 and continue to the most recent legislative session. For a complete listing of these recordings, consult the Guide to Legislative Records. Consult the Legislative Assembly Web site to hear audio of recent sessions.
Early recordings are on reel-to-reel tapes recorded at various speeds. Some recordings from the 1967 and 1969 sessions are on ROLS dictation tapes, an obscure, proprietary system. The Archives currently lacks a machine to play these recordings. Most of the newer recordings transferred from the Legislative Assembly are on cassette tapes.
Use and preservation of all of these tapes
continues to challenge the Archives. The quality of
the original recording setup and tape makes the
discussions on some tapes difficult or impossible
to understand. Cassette tape is clearly not
archival quality and typically degrades quickly.
However, like other archival repositories, the
Archives has no easy solution to the problem of
long-term preservation of these tapes. The
alternatives continue to be expensive and