About Author: Sara Sheller

Posts by Sara Sheller

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To “Kill” A Sample Back…

Friday, March 23, 2012
Portrait of card catalog containing sample backs

In the Preservation task of preparing journals for commercial binding, the work has always revolved around the “Sample Back.” Sample Backs are index cards that contain all pertinent information needed to bind a serial publication and keep track of its history. Sample Backs tell us the library in which the volume will be housed, the cover color the bindery should use, how often the journal is published, how often we bind it, and any changes in title. For years, Sample Backs were the best and only way to keep accurate records of the binding histories of journals, some of which have been continuously published for a century or more!
Then came the online library catalogs (cue scary music).

The University of Iowa Libraries have been using online catalogs for years, but in the case of serial publications have been reluctant to rely on them completely (one hiccup and you lose decades of materials!?!). Even in this digital age, Sample Backs remained the preferred option for keeping up with a title’s history…until now. In a combined effort with Selina Lin in the Cataloging-Metadata Department, Preservation’s Deb Miller has begun the task of entering all information not currently available in the online catalog into each serial title’s record. This makes all information needed to bind a title visible online. Once the record updating is complete, the sample back gets a purple marker across the front and a one way ticket to the recycle bin (after binding staff compares the catalog record to our commercial bindery’s database to verify that the information is complete). This process will be long, as there are thousands and thousands of titles and only so many hours in a work day.
Portrait of a sample back that has been retired

Transferring information from the Sample Back to the online record? Tedious. Easier access and freedom from those little index cards? Priceless.

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Welcome, Emily!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Portrait of Emily F. ShawThe Preservation and Conservation Department would like to welcome our newest staff member, Emily F. Shaw! Emily started on January 13, 2012 as our Digital Preservation Librarian. She comes to the University of Iowa from the University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign, where she was most recently the Coordinator for Large-Scale Digitization. She brings with her a wealth of diverse experience in Digital Curation, as well as in hands-on Conservation treatment. Her first task is to review our digital policies, practices, and workflows and make recommendations for improvements. Emily is a great addition to our department, and we’re so excited that she’s here!

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Sometimes Duct Tape Is Not The Answer

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Susan Hansen has seen and fixed a lot of books in her tenure in Book Repair, but every once in a while one stands out.

Recently, a 1958 copy of “The Silver Spoon Mystery” by Dorothy Sterling came to Susan, and she knew she could make it more stable, as well as more visually appealing. In fact, she had to.

This book was held together by royal blue duct tape, and the title was hand written on the tape in thick black permanent marker. To say these are Preservation “no-nos” is an understatement.

To stabilize the book, Susan did a reback treatment to replace the spine. During this process, Susan carefully removed the duct tape, and was pleasantly surprised to find the original spine. She removed it, and carefully scraped away the large amount of tape residue. Susan completed the reback by reattaching the original spine cloth to the volume, making the book appear much more like it would have when first published.

It’s all in a day’s work in Book Repair, but Susan’s effort has given “The Silver Spoon Mystery” a longer shelf life.