- How do I preserve my A/V collection?
- Should I wear gloves when handling A/V materials?
- What should I do if my A/V item is damaged and needs repair?
- Can I bring my A/V item to the Library of Congress for preservation?
- How do I find a reformatting service?
- How should I pack A/V items for storage or shipping?
- Where can I find preservation supplies?
- What kinds of plastic storage supplies are okay to use?
- If I have to store my A/V collection in the basement or attic, should I put them in plastic bags or bins?
- What should I do if my A/V items get wet or moldy?
- How do I copyright my work?
- Can I donate my A/V collection to the Library of Congress?
- Should preservation be a consideration as I think about donating my collection?
- What is the best type of CD or DVD to use for long term storage of files?
- How long can I expect my CD and/or DVDs to last?
Audio-Visual collections include a wide range of formats (e.g., optical discs, tapes, films, records, cylinders) and materials (e.g., plastics, metals, wax, shellac). The most effective and economical preservation measures for all types of materials are preventive: good care, storage, and handling.
For further information, see Caring for Audiovisual Material (Connecting to Collections).
Before handling any collection item, thoroughly wash and dry hands.
Wear fitted, clean, lint-free cotton or nitrile gloves when directly handling motion picture film (instead of just handling the reel). Always wear gloves (nitrile or if unavailable, vinyl) if there is reason to suspect a health hazard (e.g., mold). Generally speaking, however, wearing gloves is not necessarily recommended for handling materials as they reduce tactile sensitivity and increase dropping risk. For more information, see "Misperceptions About White Gloves ," pp. 4-16 from International Preservation News [PDF: 1.08 MB / 52 pp.].
Jump to specific tips for handling A/V materials.
Consider having the recording reformatted for continued access and then storing the original (and the copy) in good storage conditions. Do not attempt to playback damaged tape or film, which will further damage the tape or film and also the playback equipment.
For more information, see the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative and Caring for Audiovisual Material (Connecting to Collections).
Congress stipulates that the Library preserve and maintain the collections of the Library of Congress only.
The Library of Congress cannot recommend or endorse service providers.
Look for a full service laboratory that specializes in transfer/reformatting of the original medium and which serves, among others, archivists or cultural heritage organizations. Useful keyword searches could include several of the following suggested terms: motion picture, film, recorded sound, tape, archival, restoration, reformatting, transfer, and the technical term for the specific format to be transferred/reformatted (e.g., super-8, 16-mm, DAT, Edison cylinder, etc.).
- Audio Preservation & Restoration Directory (Association for Recorded Sound Collections)
- Video Preservation: Video Migration in the Preservation Laboratory (Stanford University)
- Moving Image Collections (Georgia Tech Interactive Media Technology Center)
There are specific tips for different kinds of objects, but the overall goal is to use appropriate materials and minimize risk of damage. See Handling, Packing, and Shipping [4.73 MB / 32 pp.] (National Park Service, Museum Handbook I).
Grooved discs and cylinders require special attention to prevent distortion from heat exposure and from their own weight. Boxes must be able to bear the weight of the discs; line all six interior sides of the box with shock-absorbing packing material; pack discs in the box vertically with a full-size rigid upright support (e.g., double-corrugated cardboard cut to the same size as the album cover) every few inches to keep the discs upright; clearly mark upright orientation on box exterior.
Jump to specific storage recommendations by format.
- Preservation/Conservation Suppliers And Services (Amigos Library Services)
- Conservation Suppliers (Conservation Online)
- LAPNet List of Disaster Supplies (Los Angeles Preservation Network)
- Supplies and Services List (Guild of Book Workers)
Polyethylene, polypropylene, or polyester (polyethylene terephthalate or PET) plastic zip bags, sleeves, or bins without any additional slip or coating agents are considered stable and inert plastics.
The original rigid plastic jewel cases offer good protection for optical discs and do not need to be replaced with a different storage system.
Avoid polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other unknown plastics.
If I have to store my A/V collection in the basement or attic, should I put them in plastic bags or bins?
Do not store your A/V collection in the basement or attic.
Polyethylene or polypropylene bags or bins are useful as a secondary protection against water damage (first protection is avoiding areas of higher water risk), but do not offer protection against the deteriorating effects of environmental extremes found in basements and attics. In addition, the combination of a plastic storage container in an area of high humidity increases mold risk.
Take necessary safety precautions if the water is contaminated with sewage or other hazards or if there is active (wet or furry) mold growth.
Jump to an overview of What to do if collections get wet.
For further information, see Emergency Guidelines for Art Disasters [PDF: 224 KB/ 12 pp.] (New York Museum of Modern Art), which covers optical media, magnetic media, and film, among other types of materials.
The United States Copyright Office handles copyright registrations.
The Library's Acquisitions office handles donations of books and other materials.
Yes. Donating your collection item or collection is a very personal decision. Donors often select a recipient that is meaningful to them, such as an alma mater, local institution, or another organization with which they have close ties. Apart from the conditions you may wish to set on how your gift may be used, donors should always inquire after the long-term preservation of their gift and might consider selecting a different institution if the first cannot adequately provide for the upkeep, preservation, and access of the collection.
The Library of Congress cannot recommend commercial products or suppliers.
Tests indicate that the dye material and the reflection layer both affect the durability of the optical storage medium and that the gold colored optical discs are the most durable, estimated to last more than 100 years. The dye (phthalocyanine) in these discs is still, as a dye, susceptible to damage by light and inappropriate ambient temperature and relative humidity.
For more information, refer to the CD Longevity Research currently underway at the Library of Congress. Other studies include the article Electronic Media Collections Care for Small Museums and Archives (Canadian Conservation Institute [CCI]) and the article CD and DVD Longevity: How Long Will They Last? by Andy Marken.
The exact material composition of optical discs is proprietary information and likely differs for each brand, but if stored in good conditions, optical discs are likely to outlast the optical disc playback equipment.
See extensive related information at Digital Preservation (Case Western Reserve University Archives).