Materials, equipment and procedures Category


Being Resourceful

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ms. Yen, Librarian for the Vietnam Institute of Oceanography, needs to make the most of her limited resources. Here she has designed a simple protector for a fragile map. She used a poster, turned it over to the back side and made corners to hold the map in place. Maybe some day she will be able to give the map an archival folder. Until then the map can now be handled safely.

Corners added to poster hold map in place so map can be safely handledLibrarian is showing old poster being used as a support for a map


Visiting the Vietnam National Archives Center IV

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dr. Hue with interpreter showing mended document
Today we visited the National Archives Center IV in Dalat, Vietnam. This visit was in sharp contrast to our visit to the Vietnam Institute of Oceanography. Our visit with the VNIO was quite causal and informal. Today’s meeting was very formal, complete with speeches, a gift, and several photo sessions. Linda Pikula and I were greeted by Ms. Pham Thi Hue and her interpreter, Ms. Le Thi Lan.

After giving a brief history of the archives and an explanation of preservation methods, we were given a tour of the archives. All was quite modern with excellent shelving, smoke alarms, and fire suppresant system. One interesting thing of note is that they run the fans for the air-conditioning system but not the cooling. Temperature is kept at 21 degrees Celsius or 70 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity is around 60-70%.

Their documents are repaired by lining the pages with handmade paper and attaching the paper with cacboxyl methyl cellulose glue. In addtion to their documentary collection, they also have a large woodblock collection of the Nguyen dynasty. Just think — the characters needed to be carved in the reverse in order to print on paper. The wood block below illustrates a title page.

Wood carving showing title pageMended document showning the handmade paper backing where original is missing


Assessing Rare Books

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Inspecting a rare volume on Japanese faunaToday we worked with the rare books. Two years ago Yen prepared a list of rare books for review. Both Linda and Yen checked different sources to determine how widely the titles were held and if they have been digitized. From this list we selected only three titles (20 volumes) to inspect, given our time limitations. As a gift to the Vietnam Institute of Oceanography library, the University of Iowa Libraries plans to make boxes for these select titles. I just hope my measurements are accurate.

Measuring a book to get measurements to make a boxEach book had to be measured in several places to find the highest, widest deepest part in order to know how large to make each box. I decided to err on too big rather than too small. Plus, we decided with the 14 volume set to make all the boxes the same height and width and just adjust the depth — a shortcut that we probably wouldn’t take if we were working in a lab. We checked the measurements twice and Linda recorded the information.

The books were in mixed condition. All bindings had extensive damage. Most of the volumes had intact legible text except for one extremely brittle book. Fortunately, the brittle book is held by two other libraries and has been digitized.volume that is stained but text is still legibleA rare book that is so brittle its pages has pieces missing


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


Dealing With A Small Pipe Leak

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wiping water from shelves, starting from top
We had a small pipe leak and were lucky that it happened in the day. We covered the books with plastic and were able to shut the water off quickly. Jessica Rogers and Cassandra Elton wiped the shelves, including the lip, starting from the top and working to the bottom. If the cover wasn’t very wet, they wiped the book off and then turned the spine down so the edges could be exposed and air dried. If the pages were wet into the book and not just damp to the touch, the book was taken to our book freeze dryer. As a precaution, we set a fan to blow air into the stacks to wick up any moisture we might have missed.

Using a soft cotton cloth to dry the book coversSetting the books on the shelf to expose the edges to air dry

Placing the books into the book freeze dryer


Linda Lundy’s Incredible Boxes

Linda Lundy, a conservation staff member, has just finished over 300 beautiful, small boxes for book storage use. These boxes were made to hold a variety of small books for the university’s main collection; anywhere from poems to storybooks, even spanish to english translation dictionaries. The boxes were measured and designed specifically for shelving within the Heinz road facility. They measured at about 5″ wide and 6″ in height. Some books were smaller in size than the box size, so fillers were made for these specific circumstances. They were each labeled with the title of the book and sent to marking to make the call numbers. Linda was able to make 22 boxes within a day; the project took around one month to complete.

Linda Lundy showing off her completed boxes.

Linda Lundy showing off her completed boxes.


Odor Reduction for Books in Storage

The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Libraries have a vast collection of books damaged in the flood. Most of their collection is currently in storage in Cedar Rapids awaiting treatment. We recently received a box of books that was pretty smelly. In order to help curb the smell we developed a new way to use an odor reducer that we have been using for some time in the lab.

sealing with a tacking iron

A Technician seals the tea bag with the tacking iron.

Gonzo Odor Eliminator

Large bag of Gonzo Odor Eliminator ready to be opened.

The Gonzo Odor Eliminator comes in large bags, too big to fit into boxes filled with books.  We decided to make smaller packages of the rocks to be able to place an odor eliminator into each box of books.  We ordered large heat-sealable tea bags and set to work.  Each package of Odor Eliminator was opened and poured into approximately 12 tea bags.  Each bag was then sealed with a tacking iron.  Once sealed the bags were placed into the boxes of books to help reduce the “flood smell” on the books.

Smaller odor reducing package

Gonzo Odor Eliminator in an open tea bag.


Disaster Response Practice

Friday, May 27, 2011

The best way to be prepared is to practice. As school children we have practice drills on how to respond to a fire alarm. Constant practice turns into a habit. We all know how to respond to a fire alarm without even thinking.

Today we had a disaster response practice drill. Each team had to assess the situation, plan for the response, and then rescue and pack the items. The practice was the aftermath of a “tornado” that left books, CDs, and photographs in mud along with snakes and fish.

We practiced safety, organized supplies, determined what materials should not be saved, rinsed and packed the books for freezing, and rinsed CDs and photographs and set out for air drying.


Your Aunt’s Dinner Party

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What would you do if your aunt called you two days before her dinner party and informed you that due to a fire in her kitchen she wanted you to host her party at your house? OceanTeacher Academy students used this scenario to practice their disaster planning skills. We all have had to deal with “disasters” in our life and as a result have developed skills that can be helpful when dealing with a disaster to our library or museum collection. Questions the students had to resolve were: what was the goal in resolving the dinner disaster, how was the dinner going to be handled, what steps would be involved in holding the dinner, how would they get the food and other resources needed, and who was going to pay for the dinner?

Of the four groups, no two had the same solution. Each approach to responding to the disaster was different but creative and resulted in a successful dinner party.


Flattening A Book

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Salvaging damaged books can be very time consuming, especially if they don’t dry flat. Today Caitlin Moore demonstrated how to flatten a book. First you lightly mist a page, using a mister that sprays a very fine mist, interleave with a blank piece of paper every few pages, put a board over the book, and put a weight on the board. One must make sure that the board is slightly larger than the book.