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We describe the use of phosphor image plates for recording spectra in the vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) and for determining accurate relative and absolute intensities. We investigated the spatial uniformity, noise, linearity of the response to VUV light, fading characteristics, saturation characteristics, reproducibility of the image when scanned multiple times, and long-term stability and lifetime of the plates. We find that the plates have a linear intensity response with a dynamic range of more than 4 orders of magnitude. We also show that they have potential as an absolute detector for VUV radiation.