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Caring for CDs and DVDs

Libraries, archives and museums hold a range of hand-held, portable media used to store photographs, text, audio and audiovisual material, games and software as digital data. CDs (Compact discs) and DVDs (Digital Versatile Discs/Digital Video Discs) are probably the most common types of optical disc found in collections. They may have been acquired as manufactured products (CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMs) or they may have been created by individuals or heritage institutions (CD-Rs and DVD-Rs). Sometimes they are attached to books or other printed material.

The lifespan of data held on the discs is determined by the physical longevity of the discs and the redundancy of the machinery, hardware and/or software, needed to play them. The lifespan of discs is generally accepted to be less than that of traditional library and archive materials such as paper and parchment. This publication from the National Preservation Office, now the British Library Preservation Advisory Centre, outlines the risks posed to CDs and DVDs in collections and gives recommendations for their cleaning and repair.

Clicking the link on this page will allow you to download this resource as a PDF.

Date created: 2008

Author: Lorraine Finch, John Webster

Publisher: British Library Preservation Advisory Centre