skip to page content | skip to main navigation
Media Preservation
Disaster Response Special Projects FAQs Contact Us
Technical Services > Preservation > Media Preservation > Optical Media

Treatment and Repair
Materials Prep and Housing
Disaster Prep and Response
Preventive Preservation
Collection Assessment
Conservation OnLine

Binding & Finishing
Conservation & Book Repair
Media Preservation

Guidelines for Storing, Handling, and Marking Optical Media
Optical media materials, such as CDs, CD-ROMs, and DVDs, are commonplace throughout SULAIR collections, representing a rich variety of resources available to the libraries’ users. With their surface of smooth plastic and shiny metal, optical discs appear to be highly durable, stable objects. According to manufacturers and some independent researchers, with proper handling and storage, high-quality optical media may be expected to last several hundred years. In fact, the expected lifetime of the physical media exceeds well beyond the useful lifetime of the disc drive or software necessary to play them back.

Despite their rugged appearance and built-in error correction measures, optical media materials are susceptible to damage resulting in the inability to retrieve the data they store. Some of the practices optical discs are routinely subjected to in the library setting, such as marking with ink and the application of labels and barcodes, can lead to irreversible damage. And while some of the optical media materials in SULAIR collections may be easily duplicated or replaced, many are either costly to replace or altogether irreplaceable.

For these reasons, the SULAIR Preservation Department encourages the University’s libraries to take steps to prolong the useful life of optical media materials in the collections. General guidelines have been prepared to support this effort. The information, drawn from a number of sources, is aimed at providing proper care and handling procedures applicable to the wide range of optical media formats.

Note: The Preservation Department does not necessarily endorse the use of optical media for the long-term storage of information of permanent value. More stringent protocols are required for the management of archival information stored on optical discs. If you seek advice on the selection of media for information storage or on the long-term management of digital information, the Media Preservation Unit is available for consultation.




Last modified: June 23, 2005
©2005 The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]