Careful handling and use of film and electronic collections is extremely important, as audiovisual media are vulnerable to even the smallest amount of dirt and dust. Cotton gloves must be used for handling, and the storage and use areas must be kept as dust-free as possible. The provision of service copies is an excellent strategy for reducing the handling of originals.
Cotton gloves should be worn when handling motion picture film. Always hold film along its edges, being careful not to touch the sound track or the image. Do not project film to examine it, since this can further damage already-deteriorated film. Special viewing equipment is available for inspecting film, or you can commission an outside service provider to do this. See The Film Preservation Guide, Chapter 3 (Film Handling and Inspection), for more detailed information.
Always wear gloves when handling master negatives, since oils and fingerprints can damage film. Always handle film by the edges or leaders. Pulling rolled film tight on the reel can cause abrasion of the film. Do not remove more than one microfilm or fiche from its enclosure at a time, and immediately resleeve or rebox items when you are done using them.
As a general rule, never touch the playing surface of any recording. Always make sure your hands are clean before you handle recordings. Be sure that all playback equipment is cleaned often and maintained properly.
Cylinder recordings should be handled by putting two fingers in the center hole. Wax cylinders must be at room temperature before you touch them, as the warmth of your hand can split cold wax cylinders. Do not touch the grooves of wax cylinders.
Grooved discs (LPs, acetate discs, etc.) should be held by their edges and label areas only. Compact disc recordings should be handled by their outer edge and center hole. Reel-to-reel tapes should be handled only by the outer edge of the reel flanges and the center hub. Take care not to squeeze the flanges together, as this will damage the edges of the tape. Cassette recordings (audio and video) should be handled only by their outer plastic casing; never put fingers or other materials into the case openings. Take care not to drop tapes, and don't stack tapes on top of equipment.
Always handle discs by the outer edges or the center hole; never touch the surface of the disc. Take care not to bend discs when handling them, and do not scratch the label side of a disc. When cleaning discs, wipe with a clean cotton fabric in a straight line from the center of the disc to the outer edge instead of wiping in a circular motion around the disc.