Audiovisual media refers to any format that is used to house audio or video content, such as an audio cassette, DVD or VHS. AV media is fragile and must be handled carefully. Even very minor damage can cause significant break down or loss of information.
Audiovisual (AV) media should be identified and stored appropriately. Identification details should be passed on to us if transferred. Different types of AV media should be identified with as much detail as possible, format, brand etc.
A high level of care is required to preserve your audio and video recordings for the future. If a suitable level of care is not possible, we should be informed and transfer to us may be necessary.
If there are any collections or items of media that you are particularly worried about, a visit from a member of Archives’ preservation team can be arranged to assess whether immediate deposit is required.
The following guidelines cover best practise when handling and storing AV media. However, there are many generations and types of media and if any questions are left unanswered please contact us for advice.
Keep AV media in a cool stable environment. High heat, relative humidity or dramatic fluctuations in either, can cause damage to the media. Ideally the temperature would be between 8-10 degrees Celsius and the relative humidity between 25-30%. If storage of this kind is not available, it is most important to avoid areas with high temperature or humidity. If this is not possible we can be contacted to discuss how to manage or transfer this media
Never touch a surface where information is recorded. For example, the surface of a CD or DVD, the grooved area of a vinyl disc, or exposed magnetic tape of an audio or video cassette
Make sure your hands are clean and dry before handling any media
Do not flex or bend any items and store them in an upright position with each side fully supported. Nothing should be stacked on top of or lean against AV media
Such as vinyl discs, 78s .
Mechanical discs are very vulnerable to temperature and warp easily if stored incorrectly
They should be stored in a low, stable temperature without being exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period
Special care should be taken to store these pieces of media in an upright and supported position
Mechanical discs are very easy to damage when playback equipment is not used correctly. If a staff member is not confident using the equipment they should seek advice before attempting playback
Such as CD, DVD, Blu-ray.
Stickers or labels should not be used anywhere on the disc itself
If some sort of labelling is required on the media confine any writing to the central plastic hub where no information is stored
Remove discs carefully from cases by first pushing down on the centre hub of the case before gently lifting the disc out. Bending can damage the disc
Ensure the disc is correctly placed in the tray of any piece of playback equipment before closing
Writable CDs, DVDs, CD Rs or DVD Rs have a short life span so should not be used to hold unique data for a long period
If a DVD or CD contains data such as audio and text files the data should be transferred to a digital storage medium such as a hard drive.
If a CD is an authored audio CD or a DVD is an authored video disk, meaning they are written in such a way as to be able to be played back on consumer audio CD players or DVD players then transfer of a disc image may be needed. In this case these items can be transferred to us without first attempting to transfer their data onto digital storage
Magnetic tape recordings
Such as Cassette, open reel tape, video cassette
Magnetic media is prone to chemical instability and if you are unable to store these media in a cool, dry environment then contact us for advice and/or transfer of media
Rewind or fast-forward a tape fully before storing it for a long period of time.
Always stop a recording before rewinding or fast forwarding
Do not leave recordings in “pause” mode for long periods
Avoid placing media directly beside magnetic devices such as headphones
Listen for muffled or squeaking sounds or watch for a distorted picture that could indicate a cassette or tape is not playing correctly and may be damaged
Last modified on 09 March 2021