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Digital Media Separation (Inventory)

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
    1. 1. Open the collection record in CMS.
    2. 2. Determine the identification number.
    3. 3. Label media.
      1. Floppy disk
      2. Optical media
    4. 4. Create a media log record.
    5. 5. Fill out a digital media separation form.
    6. 6. Shelve the media.


When digital media is encountered during accessioning of archival collections separate boxes of media are prepared for transfer.

When commercial software is present do not enter it in CMS or label it. Send commercial software as is to Digital Preservation.

Digital media separation procedures are detailed in this document. The workflows may vary based on media types encountered but the general steps are as follows:

  1. Open the collection record in CMS.
  2. Determine the identification number.
  3. Label media.
  4. Create a media log record.
  5. Fill out a digital media separation form.
  6. Create a shelving card and shelve the media.

1. Open the collection record in CMS.

  • Open CMS and locate the collection that you will be working with. Navigate to the electronic records view through the collection management screen.

2. Determine the identification number.

Use this process when you are not using barcodes to label media.

Create an identification number for a digital media object using 4 elements:

  • A letter (M is used for collections.)

  • The collection number from CMS

  • A dash

  • A sequential number of the object padded to 4 digits

    • When there are no media objects in the collection log the sequential number will be 0001. Objects already recorded in the log will be listed in the right hand column. The sequential number will be the next number that hasn’t been allocated. For example, the tenth object in manuscript collection 1087 would be labeled: M1087-0010.

The id numbers Digital Preservation uses are only for differentiating one disk from another. Sequence is only relevant for counting a number of disks. This method of id may be deprecated.

3. Label media.

  • For floppy and zip disks, print the number in ink on a new label and affixed it to the media. Labeling media with a P-Touch is best.

  • For Optical media (CDs, DVDs), print the number on the media’s plastic hub using a using a medium point Sharpie pen. House CDs or DVDs in a sleeve or case if they are not housed. Rehouse CDs or DVDs that are sleeved/cased together into individual sleeves or cases, unless the case is designed for multiple CDs or DVDs.

  • Make sure no label adhesive sticks to moving parts of the media. Many media types have shutters, gates, or spools that need to move freely to work. Covering a shutter or other moving part with a label can damage the disk and the drive used to read media.

  • Check in with Digital Preservation staff to discuss labeling other media types.

Digital Preservation staff can label commercial software with a simple collection name.
Crouch for Stanley Crouch papers.

Floppy disk

Optical media

4. Create a media log record.

Enter the following information in the media log page for the collection.

  • id

    • Enter the identification number for the media.
  • media format

    • Enter or select the appropriate media type (for example: 5.25 inch floppy disk, 3.5 inch floppy disk, CD-R, DVD-R, zip disk, hard drive, flash drive).

    • See Identifying Digital Media for media types.

  • floppy density

    • Select the appropriate floppy disk density from the drop down if available. Leave blank for other media types.
  • manufacturer

    • Enter manufacturer of the media if known.
  • serial number (hd)

    • Enter the serial number if the media object is a hard disk drive. Leave blank for other media types.
Label transcript is an optional field. If you want to transcript a label you can enter text as it appears on the label. You can enter [illegible] for words you can’t decipher.

An example of a completed record for separation:

5. Fill out a digital media separation form.


  • Fill out a media separation form to document where in the collection a media object came from.

  • Enter the object’s identification number and collection. Circle the format on the form. Enter the correct format after the word Other if the format is not listed. Print the form on BLUE paper (for visibility) and place it in the object’s previous container.

Digital Separation Sheet

6. Shelve the media.

  • Place completed boxes on shelf 02 in 205. The shelf is closest to 205A.
  • Email and confirm boxes are shelved.