October 13, 2015

Audio: NPR Reports on the Lifespan of CDs

From National Public Radio:

…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.”

Read the Complete Article and Listen to Audio Report

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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