…preservationists are worried that a lot of key information stored on CDs — from sound recordings to public records — is going to disappear. Some of those little silver discs are degrading, and researchers at the Library of Congress are trying to figure out why.
In a basement lab at the library, Fenella France opens up the door to what looks like a large wine cooler. Instead, it’s filled with CDs. France, head of the Preservation, Research and Testing Division here, says the box is a place where, using temperature controls, a CD’s aging process can be sped up.
“By increasing the relative humidity and temperature, you’re increasing the rate of chemical reaction occurring,” she says. “So we’re trying to induce what might potentially happen down the road. That gives us a feel for how long things are going to [take to] age.”
“Everyone always wants to know the answer to the same question, ‘How long do CDs last? What’s the average age?’ “[Michele] Youket, a Library of Congress preservation specialist] says. But “there is no average, because there is no average disc.”
Audio: NPR Reports on the Lifespan of CDs
Filed by August 23, 2014on