Community, outreach, education, and events Category


Visiting Vietnam Institute of Oceanography Library

Monday, February 13, 2012

Preservation team standing outside the Vietnam Institute of Oceanography

Preservation team

Linda Pikula and I met with Yen and Van to discuss preservation and possible digitization of select portions of their library collection at the Vietnamese Institute of Oceanography Library. The biggest challenge is that the library is quite close to the ocean where ships dock. These ships bring in a lot of dust and pollutants which end up on the books. Airconditioning is too expensive and the heat and humidity is a challenge. Humidity ranges from 50-85% and temperature ranges from 70-108F degrees. To keep the area reasonably cooled they keep the windows open (when it’s not raining!). The windows are across from each other so they do get a good cross breeze.

The good news is that I saw no evidence of mold (fungi). But we do want to reduce risk of mold and insect damage. First simple solution that comes to mind is to install ceiling fans that can be kept running during the day to help keep good air circulation and to cover the windows with a sheer curtain to cut down on pollutants and dust while still allowing good air circulation. I was assured that these two suggestions are within their budget.

Our trip is sponsored by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (UNESCO, IOC) and their OceanTeacher Program.

Illustration of type of sheer curtain material to use for window treatment

Illustration of sheer curtain material that could be used for window treatment

Window in library showing good cross aircirculation

Window in library


Preparing for Disasters

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

An important part of preparing for disasters is to practice and experiment before a disaster. An excellent drill is to get books wet in clean tap water and then air dry them. Get a broad range of books wet and see what happens as they dry. A couple of the books that we worked on at OceanTeacher Academy got so wet and heavy that the text block started to tear away from the cover. When that happens, it’s best to separate the text from the cover and dry separately.

Another book had pages that started to stick together. Using a simple beveled kitchen tool with rounded corners was used to separate the pages. The tool was gently inserted between the pages and then gently wiggled to separate the pages.

Sometimes a word was lost when a tiny piece of the page stuck to the other page. With just a word lost here and there, it was still easy to read the text. However, an important consideration is to think about how long one should spend on a book. Is the book worth spending 2-3 hours, separating each page? Or can it easily be replaced?

Since we are simulating a disaster, we are using tools easily at hand and not tools from a conservation lab


Big Book Explained

Thursday, January 13, 2011
Binding a 10,000 page book is no small task! You can’t get your hands around all 10,000 pages at once so the book needs to be assembled into smaller units and then bound together using a specially constructed press to hold everything in place, nicely squared up, until the book text block is dry. Then there is the special challenge of making and attaching a book cover. The binding and cover must be strong and flexible so that the book can be opened and read. Finally, the book must be supported while reading, which can be done by using blocks to support the “shorter” side and adjusted as the reader turns the page. It generally takes about 3 hours to bind a 200-page book. This book took 24 hours spread over 4 days with a ½ day devoted to making a special press.

The text below describes the process that Bill Voss used. Feel free to skip the explanation and go straight to the slide show below at the end of the blog!

After research and consultation with others, Bill decided to use what we call a “perfect” binding, which is done by fanning the spine of a text block of loose sheets, applying PVA glue and then fanning the other way and applying more glue.

Since a two foot thick text block can’t be fanned all at once, Bill broke the text into 20 sections of five chapters (500 pages) each and glued them separately. A special press was constructed which would allow the sections to be jogged and hammered square to each other while under pressure. This press consists of a three sided box and press boards constructed from melamine particle board so as to accommodate the dimensions of the sections, which are a standard 8 ½ x 11”. After each section was glued up it was placed vertically between boards and pressed with clamps.

When all the sections were dry, kerfs (narrow channels) were sawn into them so that two sunken cords could be glued into the spine across its width to further strengthen the binding. All 20 sections were then assembled together in the press and clamped tightly while the cords and subsequent linings (kozo, cotton acrylic cloth, paper) were applied to the spine. Finally a large case was constructed and attached to the text block.

The finished binding is somewhat unwieldy, but can still be carried and opened to any point by a single person and can be supported while open by the simple expediency of placing a sufficient number of boards under one of the covers while the other cover rests on the table.

Kudos to Bill Voss, Bu Wilson and Dave Morice (Dr Alphabet) for working together to create, publish and bind the “Poetry City Marathon”.


Colfax flood

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A team from the University of Iowa and the State Historical Society of Iowa spent two days early this week assisting Colfax Historical Society members with evacuating collections from their flood-damaged museum.

The museum was in the middle of a new building project next door to the current museum when the flooding hit. The older building, which housed the collections, took on at least four feet of water while the newer building, which is on higher ground, took only a few inches. The team was able to dry out the new building and use it to temporarily store the retrieved collections. Several volumes of the Colfax Tribune and other paper items are now drying in UI Libraries’ book freeze-dryer.

It will take several days to complete the evacuation of the entire collection and the UI/ State Historical Society team will continue to provide advice to museum staff.

The Colfax Historical Society has several other smaller buildings that were also damaged by the flood. Donations may be sent to Colfax Historical Society, PO Box 123, Colfax, IA 50054, to the attention of “Flood Recovery.”


Outing to a Conservation Lab and Archives

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

This afternoon we went to Bruges to visit the conservation school which is a part of SYNTRA West. The students and teacher provided many demonstrations. We learned that wet paper needs a support when handling the paper or it will tear. We also saw several different ways of making boxes and were given a pattern that we could use.

After our visit we went to the National Archives building to observe the graduation ceremonies for the first class of conservation students. The course is two years long and costs about 3,000 euros.

We concluded our evening with a lecture by the Archivist. He showed us many different documents and explained about the archives program.


OLLI Creating Post-Bound Digital Photo Album Class

Friday, April 16, 2010

This is the fourth class that we have taught for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. It’s a lot of fun introducing students to the joys (and trials) of working in a conservation lab. All the material is pre-cut for the class participants ready for them to assemble. Well, almost ready to assemble. They still have to cut the cloth down to size, miter the corners, attach the cloth and pastedown, and make a hinge. Bill Voss has made jigs of various sizes to assist with spacing of hinge strips and mitering. The album has a fold-in hinge so that the posts are hidden.


Print-on-Demand Lecture

Monday, March 22, 2010

This afternoon, Brian Baird, Vice President for Library Services, Bridgeport National Bindery, presented an overview of print on demand operations from the factory floor including an early review of the PUR (new adhesive) technology. It appears that high speed copier books are now approaching a large portion of the print acquisitions. Academic and university presses have shifted to POD and a whole range of publishers, large and small are using the technology. The shift does not necessarily pose concern from the preservation perspective….but it is worthy of attention. There is indication that the library binding streams will be converted to POD methods. At issue is continuing improved performance for print books, especially those wrong grain and paperback bound coming from POD production. Brian is also tracking the self-publishing industries such as LuLu, Amazon BookSurge and Lightning Source and described the current photo book craze.


Maximizing Poster Space

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Blog IMG_0897 I have a cool tip that I thought I’d pass along. Last week we decided to take a poster to the American Library Association preservation section meeting describing how the flood and other recent events have impacted our department. Hauling a poster through the airport and onto an airplane is no picnic. I decided that the poster needed to fit in my suitcase (14″ x 20″) for hassle free transport. As you can image this makes for small pictures and text.

Preservation Assistant Bill Voss devised a way to maximize the small space so we could have larger Blog IMG_0905 photographs and text. I’m not sure which was more interesting to our audience — the message or the poster design!

Bill took the printouts of the images and text and mounted them on folded thin board. He added velcro dots to hold the folded board and mounted the board to the poster. Everything opens up and tucks inside the folded poster. When ready to display, just fold the boards against the velcro and voila! An attractive, interesting poster.


Flood-Damaged Phonograph Records Sent Home

Friday, December 18, 2009

A much awaited event finally arrived. We returned close to 1,500 sound recordings to David Muhlena, Library Director for the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids. Cleaning the records was very labor intensive. We began our work in July 2008, working in the Paper Lab cleaning off the worst of the mud, mold, bacteria, and river debris. In September 2008, we brought the records to the conservation lab for a more thorough cleaning. We’re estimating that actual hands-on cleaning time was around 750 hours. We’re not done yet. We only returned the LPs and 45s, we still have the 78s to clean.

We could not have competed this project without the donation of archival tan board for the three flap enclosures by Archival Products, Des Moines, Iowa and funding for new sink/water system from the State Historical Society of Iowa Historical Resources Development Program (HRDP).

The local media has been very supportive in covering our flood “mile markers.” It’s always good to get the message out that many flood/water damaged items can be salvaged and to remind the public that recovery from a disaster such as the Iowa Flood of 2008 takes time.


Endless Possibilities Grand Opening

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blog IMG_0510Last night I attended a reception for the grand opening of the African American Museum of Iowa’s permanent exhibit “Endless Possibilities” which traces the journey of Iowa’s African Americans. This event was also a farewell to curator Susan Kuecker who is moving to Pittsburgh.

Susan and I have crossed paths many times, sitting on the same board, giving presentations, sharing Blog IMG_0501preservation concerns. Since the flood I’ve gotten to know Susan even better and am impressed with all the work she’s done post flood. This exhibit is a fine example of her ability to bring a story to the public.

It was a lot of fun to go through the exhibit and see all the items that we had worked on put into context. There was no signage indicating what had and had not been in the flood. I doubt very much that anyone Blog IMG_0502going through the exhibit could discern which was which.

If you have been reading the blog, you should recognize the gourd, basket, money (the long thin metal),
suitcase, and buttons as items that we have cleaned.