We are pleased to announce that the UI Libraries has received a National Endowment of Humanities (NEH) $300,000 grant award for a three-year preservation and access project to provide conservation treatment and to digitize 150 oversize scrapbooks in the Keith/Albee Vaudeville Theater Collection.
A page spread from a scrapbook in the Keith/Albee Vaudeville Theater Collection
Since its acquisition in 1976, the Keith/Albee Vaudeville Theater Collection has remained the leading vaudeville archive in the country. Documenting the activity of a prominent vaudeville theater company through more than 40 years of business, the collection is rich not only in newspaper clippings and other publicity, but in managers’ reports and financial records as well. As such, the Keith/Albee collection is more than scattered playbills and more than the personal archives of individual performers. This collection is context. The collection’s focus on the business of vaudeville provides an understanding of the industrial evolution of a major form of popular entertainment. In the end, the collection allows researchers to track the conditions that contributed to the decline of live entertainment and the rise of film—currently a field of intense scholarly interest. As a result of its strong research value, the Keith/Albee collection has been source material for a number of books and dozens of articles, reaching scholarly and popular audiences alike, throughout the past thirty years. As the study of the history and evolution of early, popular American entertainment grows, interest in the Keith/Albee Vaudeville Theater Collection is expected to grow likewise.
A look at the type of damage to some of the scrapbooks in the Keith/Albee Vaudeville Theater Collection.
In its current condition, the collection cannot sustain increased handling—let alone the handling it receives now. All of the scrapbooks’ substrate pages are brittle; only the amount of brittleness varies as does the amount of resulting loss and damage. A recent collection survey indicated that 56 percent of the scrapbooks have incurred some degree of loss or damage as a result of brittle paper and normal handling. More than 60 percent of the scrapbooks that have incurred enough damage to have their use limited or restricted entirely. Doing so would make approximately one-third of the collection off-limits to researchers. With this grant the Preservation and Conservation Department will be able to preserve this collection while increasing its access to researchers.
A special congratulations to co-authors Bethany Davis, Digital Processing Coordinator, and Patrick Olson, Special Collections Librarian for their excellent work and dedication to crafting a successful application to one of the most competitive grant programs.
Brittle fragments of paper collect in the spine area of a scrapbook from the Keith/Albee Vaudeville Theater Collection.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library recently acquired this sweet chunky 19th century religious text and brought it into the lab. The binding had broken away from the text block after the first signature because it was so large. The cover was consolidated and the hinges were repaired with colored Japanese paper.
The book had broken away from the cover.
The hinges were fixed with colored Japanese paper
Hidden behind the binding and now revealed because of the failure was a nice piece of cotton cloth used as a spine liner. The spine was relined with gelatin sized Japanese paper for strength and the book was reassembled. Once assembled the paper hinges were tinted with paint to match the original leather. A four flap enclosure was made and the book was off to the NCSML to become part of their growing collection.
A scrap of cotton was used as a spine lining
Tinted hinges to match the original leather
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a generous grant to the Art Conservation Department at Buffalo State College. This funding will provide expanded development of Library and Archives Conservation training.
Frost will provide student instruction and advisement in the expanded program. He will travel to Buffalo twice a semester and provide a summer course in historical book structures. Students will have an opportunity for internships and exchange with the University of Iowa Libraries Conservation and Preservation department.
Frost continues to volunteer at the University of Iowa Libraries and also welcomes UICB/SLIS applicants within the American Institute for Conservation Mentor Program.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Take a look at a couple of the newest enclosures our very own “box lady” Linda Lundy has completed. Linda has been working on some items from the Iowa Womens Archive (IWA). The latest items come from Anna Marie Mitchell.
Custom enclosure for Mitchell Diorama
Here is some info on Anna Marie Mitchell from Karen Mason, Curator of the IWA.
Anna Marie Mitchell of Forest City, Iowa, was a missionary for the Lutheran Church in Japan from the 1950s to the 1980s. In addition to this doll, housed in a wooden box made in Japan, she donated to the Iowa Women’s Archives a diorama of a typical Japanese home that she used when she was on furlough to show Americans what a Japanese home looked like. Anna Marie Mitchell donated extensive photo albums of her years in Japan, as well as reports of her work, to the Iowa Women’s Archives.
Custom box for Mitchell doll
Custom box for Mitchell doll
Friday, August 2, 2013
Submitted by Lindsay Shettler
The theatre photographs from the Frederick W. Kent Collection of Photographs are currently being stabilized, digitized, and rehoused for Special Collections. The theater photographs are organized by year and production. The first batch of photographs are pre-1936, many of these prints have unknown dates ranging from the late 1800′s up to 1936. The different photographic technologies and techniques used during the turn of the century help us determine this specific era.
Old photo from Kent Theater Collection
The two large photo albums that I worked on were with the pre-1936 collection; each album held about 300 prints. These needed to be stabilized and rehoused before scanning. The stabilization included removing the screw posts and casing, cleaning and mending the prints, and interleaving every single page with unbuffered tissue. Custom 4-flap enclosures were created to house the prints in the original order.
The prints from 1936 and after are mounted to board with tape rather than in album form. The prints are removed from the board and cleaned. The adhesive does not completely come off the resin-coated prints and need to be removed with ethyl alcohol and cotton tipped applicators. Once the tape is fully removed the prints are ready to be scanned. After digitization the photos will return to the Conservation Lab for rehousing and then finally returned to their home in Special Collections.
Kent Theater Collection Photos in a 4-Flap Enclosure
Kent Theater Company Old Album Cover
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
We box a lot of things in the Conservation Lab. Linda Lundy, our resident box maker extraordinaire, has making clamshell boxes down to a science. Every once in a while something a little more complicated comes along, but there is no stopping Linda!
The Engineering Library brought us such a case recently. A student group has a tradition of having buttons made for their events. The Engineering Library wanted to show off their collection and store the buttons in something better than a plastic baggie.
Linda created a great display and storage solution for them. She created two partitioned trays for the buttons to rest in. Behind each button there is a small piece of foam so the button can be attached for display and storage.
Linda then created a clamshell box for both of the trays to live in. The resulting box was beautiful, useful for storage and doubled well for display!
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
This spring and summer in Iowa City has brought lots of different types of weather and with that lots of different events to be prepared for. We were in a severe drought for most the winter and early spring, then the rains started. At the end of May as the river was rising outside our back door the library and the University began to put its flood preparation plan into place. In the Main Library that meant covering floor drains, moving supplies around, and moving high priority books out of the basement.
Since the Flood of 2008, the library has moved all of the special collection material from the basement. The only remaining books are on compact shelving. It was determined that we would need to move all of the items on the lowest shelves to higher ground. With the help of library staff volunteers under the direction of Circulation Staff we were able to move the books to the 4th floor.
But just as we thought we would be in the clear more storms rolled in! During a particularly bad storm all library staff and patrons were moved into the lower level to ride out a tornado warning. As we began to filter back into our top floor work areas we realized that we had sprung a couple of leaks.
Thanks to careful planning and lots of help we sprang into action and grabbed our trusty disaster cart. We were able to remove books from shelves and look them over for any signs of water. We placed tarps over the area and called in facilities services. Though the library didn’t end up taking on any water from the river it was a great feeling to be so prepared and not rushed.
Although we are looking at weekly forecast full of rain, we are confident that our preparations and readiness will keep our collections dry!
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
The University of Iowa’s Special Collections was fortunate to receive Chef Louis Szathmary’s library of cookbooks throughout the mid-80’s. Among the items were a number of handwritten cookbooks that Szathmary had collected over the years. In the Spring of 2012 conservation and digital preservation students began scanning the manuscripts. The first item, Josiah Ingall’s account book, went digital on March 13th, 2012. The goal was to crowd source the transcription of the pages and create legible, accessible, versions of the cookbooks, some of them dating from as far back as the 1600’s.
A little over a year later, the project reached the 100 mark with the digitization of the ‘Household recipe book of Mrs. Howard of Staines, Middlesex and Salsfield Court, Nr. Westerham, England’. This number represents hours of work in addition to 12,674 images totaling 249,361,919,444 bytes! Each item is assessed before scanning, treated if necessary, scanned, processed, and rehoused in a 4-fold-flap. The DIY transcription project is also moving along at a good pace with 33,222 pages transcribed to date.
If you’re interested in browsing the digital collection go to: http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cookbooks
Or, if you’d prefer to try your hand (or eyes) at manuscript transcription, visit the DIY transcription site at: http://diyhistory.lib.uiowa.edu/
Lastly, if you’re feeling super adventurous, try out some of the recipes yourself, also found at the DIY site. There’s everything from dandelion wine to cures for the plague (which hopefully you don’t have).