Audio: NPR Reports on the Lifespan of CDs
…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.”
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.