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Psalter-Spiel

Friday, August 29, 2014
By Gary Frost

Psalter-SpielThe UI Libraries Preservation & Conservation Department continues assistance of the celebration of 300 years of book printing in the Amana Church community. The retrospective exhibit of the imprints, from 1714 to 2014, has been arranged and installed with the help of the conservation staff. Now we are printing the commemorative keepsakes for the various celebration dinners and conferences.

Printing of the keepsakes is underway at the Homestead Print Shop and Post Office. The Print Shop and Post Office is itself a historical exhibit. The recreation depicts printing and communication methods of the 1950’s in the Amana Colonies. The relatively late period depiction enables the inclusion of the Linotype composing machine; not until the mid-twentieth century did the German printers finally accept keyboard composition, modern types and English language.

The keepsake items feature proofs from the stereo-plates of the 1854 setting of the Psalter-Spiel. This hymnal and recitation book was produced from the beginning of the Church of True Inspirationists with the last edition from the 1854 plates printed in 1910. The plates appear to have been cast in Buffalo, New York replicating hand-set composition prepared just prior to relocation of the villages from Ebenezer, New York to the Amana Colonies.

Printing in the Inspirationist community has a long and impressive legacy of book printing. The UI Libraries Preservation & Conservation Department is proud to contribute the persistence of the craft of printing from metal type in the Amanas.

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Iowa Collections Emergency Response Team Training

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Selecting tools for trunk kitYesterday twenty-five individuals from around Iowa gathered at the Camp Dodge Gold Star Military Museum in Johnston to begin training as a member of the Iowa Collections Emergency Response Team (Iowa CERT). Many of Iowa’s documentary collections are scattered in museums and libraries throughout the state. These diverse collections together form an invaluable statewide historical resource. Small institutions in particular often do not have the staff or financial capacity to respond appropriately when the collections are threatened. This training will build a network of experts throughout the state who can respond quickly to emergencies of different sizes and types. The assembled team is comprised of geographically-distributed staff from libraries, museums, archives, and other collecting institutions. The training is partially funded by an Historical Resource Development Program grant awarded to the Iowa Preservation and Conservation Consortium (ICPC). Training is coordinated by the University of Iowa Libraries staff, Nancy E Kraft, Brenna Campbell, and Elizabeth Stone.

First day of training concentrated on learning how to organize, plan, and respond to disaster. Each team member received a trunk tool kit with basic tools for responding to a disaster – hammers, screw drivers, pliers, caution tape, etc.

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UI Libraries receives Carver grant to renovate exhibition space

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Exhibit Hall 1960In April, the University of Iowa Libraries was awarded $500,000 by the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust in support of the renovation of the Main Library Exhibition Space. Very exciting news!

Our current space was constructed in 1951 and has not changed much since then. Over the years, using the space as an exhibit became more and more challenging. Plus it was a space that people walked through to get from one side of the building to the other making it very difficult to engage anyone in an exhibit.

Due to the Learning Commons project which was completed in 2013, the current exhibition space is now a self-contained area. Anticipating the exhibition possibilities that the Exhibit Hall 2014 ConceptLearning Commons renovation would open up, we began working with consultant Liz Kadera on a gallery and exhibition space presentation. We were delighted that our new Library Director John Culshaw liked our concept drawings and pulled a team together to draft a proposal to present to the Carver Trust.

The renovation will create a more suitable and secure space dedicated to displaying books, manuscripts, maps, documents, artworks, and more from the Libraries collections.

Construction is planned to begin this fall with a proposed completion date of spring 2015.

First image courtesy of the UI Archives, 1960. Second image courtesy Liz Kadera, 2013.

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Drying a Wet Book

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Interleafing a Wet Book
As a Preservation Librarian, I should know better than to read a book while taking a spa bath. Last week I did just that and dropped my book into the tub. Oops! Luckily I caught it before it was entirely submerged.

Pressing the Damp Book

I took immediate action. I grabbed some copy paper from our home printer and folded the paper in half and interleafed every few pages to start soaking up the water. Then I put the book into a “press” by using a cutting board and cast iron skillets. The press helps by putting a little pressure on the book to blot up the water and to keep the pages somewhat flat. The next day I pulled out the wet interleafing paper and inserted new but in slightly different spots.

Drying Interleafing Paper
I laid out the wet interleafing paper to dry so I could re-use. I repeated this process over several days.

Dried Book Showing a Little Edge Curl
The book is now dry but does show some evidence that it had been wet. If the book in question had been a book of value to me, I would have put the book in a zip-lock bag, stuck it in the freezer, and later taken it to a conservator.

 

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Preserving Media

Thursday, April 10, 2014
Submitted by Emily F Shaw

Stacks of different types of mediaIn addition to millions of books, journals, and electronic resources, the University of Iowa Libraries is also the permanent home for film, audio, and video collections.

Projecting an original 16mm film can be risky, and using playback equipment that is dirty or in disrepair can cause permanent damage. Protecting the original is critical; many of our media collections are unique and most are actively degrading. In order to preserve this content and make it accessible to we need to digitize it.

I recently traveled with local historian and collector Mike Zahs to visit The Media Preserve, the vendor we contracted to digitally reformat some of Iowa’s most precious “time-based” media collections.

Racks Of Magnetic Tape Playback Equipment

Racks Of Magnetic Tape Playback Equipment

The Media Preserve is staffed by enthusiastic and knowledgeable professionals with many of experience working in the film, video, and recording industries. The studios at The Media Preserve are designed to minimize risk to customer assets, such as power surges, lightning strikes, or electromagnetic interference. Their studios are fully equipped to read and play back every type of time-based media content imaginable.

 

Inspecting Film in the Preservation Lab

Inspecting Film in the Preservation Lab


For common consumer media like VHS and ¾” Umatic tapes, the digital transfer process has been engineered to allow a small number of staff to oversee the digitization of multiple assets at once, thereby lowering transfer time and cost to their clients. In addition, The Media Preserve has a film preservation lab equipped for cleaning, repair, and high-resolution scanning of film. Their film preservation staff recently digitized half a dozen of Mr. Zahs’ badly degraded 35mm nitrate films created in the first few years of the 20th century.

 

 

 

 

 

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UI Libraries receives NEH $300,000 three-year grant

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

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.

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.

Brittle fragments of paper collect in the spine area of a scrapbook from the Keith/Albee Vaudeville Theater Collection.

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A Valentine’s Day Surprise

Friday, February 14, 2014
Submitted by Brenna Campbell

Letter closedBlogAs part of our normal digitization workflow, all rare materials being scanned are first assessed for condition problems by the Conservation Department. Last week, during an assessment of the McDill family papers, we ran across this mysterious folded letter.

Written on both sides were numbered sets of rhyming couplets, which seemed to have a romantic tone. By carefully unfolding the paper, we revealed the full content of the letter; it was a proposal of marriage, complete with illustrations.

Letter unfolding 1BlogLetter unfolding 2Blog
Letter unfolding 3BlogLetter openBlog

While we had it open, we tried to reverse-engineer the letter, in order to make a model of our own. Many of the folds were torn, which made it more difficult to identify the original structure. With a little help from Google, we identified it as a “Victorian Puzzle Purse,” and learned that it was a popular way to fold a letter to that special someone.
Letter starBlog

If you would like to make a Victorian Puzzle Purse for your beloved, instructions can be found here: http://www.origami-resource-center.com/puzzle-purse-instructions.html

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Fixing a detached cover

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 book had broken away from the cover.

The hinges were fixed with colored Japanese paper

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

A scrap of cotton was used as a spine lining

Tinted hinges to match the original leather

Tinted hinges to match the original leather

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Clay Tablet Gets Custom Box

Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Submitted by Bill Voss

Clay TabletThis neo-Sumerian clay tablet, recording the sacrifice of a kid goat dates to ca. 2050 B.C. and is frequently shown to students as an early example of writing in cuneiform accompanied by the impression of a cylinder seal. Due to its frequent use it was decided to create a custom box which would keep the object secure and viewable behind a small window, but which also has the option of being further opened to allow the object to be removed from the enclosure. The tablet rests in a fitted recess in a block of ethafoam covered with cotton and hollytex (spun polyester) and can be seen through a window of polyester sheeting. To remove the object a flap secured by embedded magnets is lifted revealing the tablet as well as a second recess containing a pair of cotton gloves for safe handling.
Clay tablet nesting in boxBox completely open

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UI Conservator Emeritus Gary Frost to participate in library and archives conservation program.

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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.