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Posts by The University of Iowa Libraries


‘Hawkeye’ yearbook, documenting 100 years of UI history, now online in Iowa Digital Library

The University of Iowa Libraries has recently completed a project to digitize the entire run of Hawkeye yearbooks, comprising more than 38,000 pages documenting UI history from 1892 to 1992. The digital collection, with its vast assortment of yearbook photographs and illustrations enhanced by full-text search functionality, is available at http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/yearbooks.

University Archivist David McCartney said the yearbooks are the go-to source for many, if not most, reference questions concerning twentieth century campus life. Online access makes it an even richer resource for alumni and the general public.

The yearbooks are the latest addition to the Iowa Digital Library, http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu, which features more than 450,000 digital objects created from the holdings of the UI Libraries and its campus partners. Included are illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, fine art, political cartoons, scholarly works, audio and video recordings, and more.


Barrett research with Libraries’ Special Collections reveals secrets of old paper

Research by a University of Iowa led team reveals new information about why paper made hundreds of years ago often holds up better over time than more modern paper.

Led by Timothy Barrett, director of papermaking facilities at the UI Center for the Book, the team analyzed 1,578 historical papers made between the 14th and the 19th centuries. Barrett and his colleagues devised methods to determine their chemical composition without requiring a sample to be destroyed in the process, which had limited past research. The results of this three-year project show that the oldest papers were often in the best condition, in part, Barrett says, due to high levels of gelatin and calcium.

“This is news to many of us in the fields of papermaking history and rare book and art conservation,” says Barrett. “The research results will impact the manufacture of modern paper intended for archival applications, and the care and conservation of historical works on paper.”

Barrett says one possible explanation for the higher quality of the paper in the older samples is that papermakers at the time were attempting to compete with parchment, a tough enduring material normally made from animal skins. In doing so, they made their papers thick and white and dipped the finished sheets into a dilute warm gelatin solution to toughen it.

“Calcium compounds were used in making parchment, and they were also used in making paper,” Barrett says. “Turns out they helped prevent the paper from becoming acidic, adding a lot to its longevity.”

Barrett acknowledges that some may wonder why research on paper longevity is worth doing today, when art or text on paper can be scanned at high resolution and viewed later on a computer. He notes that close analysis of the papers themselves can often shed new light on a particular historical episode or figure. For example, when letters from a particular writer are found on especially poor quality paper given the writer’s time and place, it may indicate something significant about the writer’s financial situation. When a book was printed on very high quality paper for its period and location, it may suggest something new about the publisher’s intended audience and marketing strategy.

“Both instances provide evidence wholly lacking in digital scans of the same pieces of paper,” Barrett says. “Paper does more than support words or images. It can bring alive its own moment in history or show us how to make longer lasting paper in the future.”

Even in a digital age, some materials will still be created and preserved on paper. For instance, Barrett and his UI papermaking team worked with National Archives staff in 2000 to produce special handmade paper that now sits beneath the Charters of Freedom at the Archives Rotunda in Washington D.C.

“The information lying dormant in paper in important books and works of art needs to be preserved for researchers in future generations to uncover and utilize,” Barrett says. “Just as important, paper originals — that can be read without hardware and software — will continue to be essential backups to digital scans long, long into the future.”

Barrett’s group included Mark Ormsby, physicist at the National Archives and Records Administration Research and Testing division; Joseph Lang, UI professor of statistics and actuarial science; Robert Shannon at Bruker Elemental; Irene Brückle, professor at the State Academy of Art and Design in Stuttgart, Germany; Michael Schilling and Joy Mazurek from the Getty Conservation Institute; Jennifer Wade at the National Science Foundation; and Jessica White, a UI graduate student who is now proprietor of the Heroes & Criminals Press.

The Institute for Museum and Library Services, the University of Iowa, and the Kress Foundation provided funding for the research. The UI Libraries is hosting the newly launched website http://paper.lib.uiowa.edu/ which details all the project goals, procedures and results. The UI Center for the Book is a part of the Graduate College.


A faster and more predictable Interlibrary Loan – UBorrow

Together with 12 other university libraries in the Midwest and the Center for Research Libraries, the University of Iowa Libraries is proud to announce a new service called UBorrow that offers fast access to over 90 million books. Books requested via UBorrow typically are available within a week and are checked out for 12 weeks, with a four-week renewal option.

Iowa faculty, students and staff can search UBorrow directly. A UBorrow search option is also available in Smart Search and InfoLink.  UBorrow checks the UI Libraries’ catalog for an available copy before checking other libraries’ catalogs in real time and placing a request directly with the other libraries. If a book is not available through UBorrow, faculty, staff and students can still place a traditional interlibrary loan request and UI Libraries staff will try to obtain it from another library.

Who is loaning the books in UBorrow?

The 13 CIC libraries as well as the Center for Research Libraries will be lending books through UBorrow. The CIC consists of University of Chicago, University of Illinois, Indiana University, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, and University of Wisconsin-Madison. The proximity of these partners, as well as commitments made by each library, allow books to be delivered through UBorrow far more rapidly than when they are requested via traditional interlibrary loan.


Books are on the Move…

As we prepare to renovate the Main Library – to build the Learning Commons on the first floor and create staff space on the fifth floor, we will be moving books and shelving in the building.

We will be shifting the entire collection in the Main Library. A stream of books from the Z call numbers has begun moving from the 4th floor to the 2nd floor west shelves just vacated by the Art Library.

Once all equipment and shelving is in place, the pace of the book move will accelerate and books will be moving to and from different parts of the 4th and 5th floor collections simultaneously.

At this point we don’t expect anything to be off the shelf for more than a few hours and we will send out regular updates on the move status and other logistics as the project progresses.

If you have questions or need help locating materials, please contact the information or circulation desks on the first floor.


Famine in Historical Context

Looking for primary resources for your speech or paper, but don’t have lots of time? This month’s focus is on locating primary documents that report on famine, food security, and humanitarian aid.

Learn transferable skills that can be applied to nearly all topics. These mini-workshops are like veggies for your brain!




Keeping Current is Easy, Nov 17

Want to know as soon as an exciting new article is published? Tired of skimming the websites or paper copies of multiple journals to see what is in the new issue?

This hands-on session will show you how to create a single destination for information from your favorite journals, databases, websites and blogs using RSS feeds and auto-alerts.

Thursday, November 17
 Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, East Information Commons

Register online: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/hardin/regform.html or by calling 319-335-9151.



On the Move in the Main Library

If you’ve been in the Main Library recently, you’ve noticed some activity. We’re getting ready for beginning of construction that will transform the first floor of the Main Library into a learning commons. There have been movers pushing carts of books around and now student employees are dismantling bookshelves on the east side of the second floor and the old graduate student carrels on the east side of fourth floor. As you can guess there is a certain amount of noise involved in these projects. If you are looking for some quiet study space, check out:

  • west side of the second floor (where the art, music and East Asian collections are located)
  • north study lounge on the second floor overlooking the north entrance and the exhibition hall
  • east side of the third floor in the journal stacks
  • west side of the fourth floor
  • fifth floor

If you have some other suggestions for good study space in the library post it on our Work Smarter, Not Harder tumblr page.


Princeton University’s policy on Open Access

There are various types of “open access” policies that are expanding on college campuses. Now, Princeton University has taken a different view – they have “banned” their faculty from granting copyright to publishers. Read the full story through the link below.



Looking for a few good people… for the Iowa City Book Festival

The Iowa City Book Festival would like three interns to help with every aspect of planning and promotion of the 2012 Festival. Interns must be in Iowa City for the summer of 2012.

  1. Programming intern will assist the Programming Director and committee in all aspects of developing the festival program – researching potential authors, researching publishers and publicists, attending committee meetings and taking minutes.
  2. Marketing intern will assist the Marketing and Communications Director and committee in all aspects of the marketing and publicity work for promotion – generating, organizing, and implementing various promotional plans, social media generation, media contact research, distributing promotional materials.
  3. Fundraising intern will assist the Executive Director and committee in all aspects of fundraising for the ICBF – writing grant applications, working with donors, corresponding with local businesses, planning and implementation of fundraising events.

Some duties will be based on experience and skills of the intern, others on the need of the committee. Scope of responsibilities is to assist in planning and organizing for the Iowa City Book Festival.

** Please keep in mind that from Friday, July 6 through the weekend of July 13-15, a schedule of longer hours will be required.

Applicants should be aware that not all duties will be equally challenging, but all will be duties that are regularly performed by committee members during the process of planning the ICBF. Upon completion of the 2012 ICBF, the confident and successful intern will receive letters of recommendation from the ICBF planning committee.


  • Current enrollment or acceptance at the University of Iowa
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Excellent computer skills and online research abilities

The ICBF committee expects the intern to work five to ten hours a week for the remainder of the Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 semesters, then ten to twelve hours per week in the summer which includes attending committee meetings. The intern will receive supervision and evaluation from Kristi Bontrager, Director, ICBF; Karen Fischer, Programming Director; and Allison Means, Marketing Director.

Please submit your resume to Kristi Bontrager, Director, Iowa City Book Festival (kristi-r-bontrager@uiowa.edu).


“You Say Khaddafi, I Say Gaddafi”

This month’s focus – foreign media coverage of Libyan leader, Mu’ammar Al-Qadhafi, past and present.

Develop your research skills and put a little power in your papers. Learn transferable skills that can be applied to nearly all topics.