Tuesday, August 27, 2013Last month Conservation Technician Bill Voss served as a Studio Assistant to instructor Shanna Leino, during a two week class at the Penland School of Crafts on Tool Making for Book Arts. Shanna is a well known tool maker and alumna of the UI Center for the Book, whose tools and binding models are featured in the Model Bookbinding Collection housed in the Conservation Lab. Projects covered during the class included making bone folders, awls, punches, leather pairing knives and bamboo tools.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Take a look at a couple of the newest enclosures our very own “box lady” Linda Lundy has completed. Linda has been working on some items from the Iowa Womens Archive (IWA). The latest items come from Anna Marie Mitchell.
Here is some info on Anna Marie Mitchell from Karen Mason, Curator of the IWA.
Anna Marie Mitchell of Forest City, Iowa, was a missionary for the Lutheran Church in Japan from the 1950s to the 1980s. In addition to this doll, housed in a wooden box made in Japan, she donated to the Iowa Women’s Archives a diorama of a typical Japanese home that she used when she was on furlough to show Americans what a Japanese home looked like. Anna Marie Mitchell donated extensive photo albums of her years in Japan, as well as reports of her work, to the Iowa Women’s Archives.
Wednesday August 14, 2013
Submitted by Susan Hansen
Larry Houston and Sarah Luko are students in the UI Center for the Book and work in the UI Libraries’ preservation department. Both possess exceptional hand skills and an exemplary work ethic; they have mastered the technique of rebacking. After gathering volumes with damaged spines, Sarah and Larry went into production mode. They worked in batches, side by side, replacing the damaged spines with new cloth and reattaching the original spine piece when possible. The dynamic duo ran out of books before the end of the work day. The final tally was 84 rebacks, a number roughly twice the expected production for two experienced student assistants. Kudos to Sarah and Larry!
Friday, August 2, 2013
Submitted by Lindsay Shettler
The theatre photographs from the Frederick W. Kent Collection of Photographs are currently being stabilized, digitized, and rehoused for Special Collections. The theater photographs are organized by year and production. The first batch of photographs are pre-1936, many of these prints have unknown dates ranging from the late 1800′s up to 1936. The different photographic technologies and techniques used during the turn of the century help us determine this specific era.
The two large photo albums that I worked on were with the pre-1936 collection; each album held about 300 prints. These needed to be stabilized and rehoused before scanning. The stabilization included removing the screw posts and casing, cleaning and mending the prints, and interleaving every single page with unbuffered tissue. Custom 4-flap enclosures were created to house the prints in the original order.
The prints from 1936 and after are mounted to board with tape rather than in album form. The prints are removed from the board and cleaned. The adhesive does not completely come off the resin-coated prints and need to be removed with ethyl alcohol and cotton tipped applicators. Once the tape is fully removed the prints are ready to be scanned. After digitization the photos will return to the Conservation Lab for rehousing and then finally returned to their home in Special Collections.
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Submitted by Jessica Rogers
We moved our Columbian hand press from the first floor of the library to the third floor, in front of Special Collections, to make more room for the Learning Commons. If you have not yet had a chance to see it, please, stop by and gaze in wonder at the remarkable craftsmanship and beauty of this historic hand press. As your eyes drift over the various decorations and counter-weights of this cast iron behemoth, take a moment to think to yourself “man, I bet this thing is really, really, really, heavy.” And it is.
Our particular Columbian was cast in 1843 at 120 Aldersgate Street, London, as stated on the brass plate which is mounted at the top of the structure. There is no indication as to when it was shipped to the U.S., where it was used, or when it arrived at the University of Iowa. It is roughly seven feet high and four feet wide (when the press bed is out) and made primarily from cast iron. Although no exact weight of the machine could be found it has been firmly established that the press is very, very heavy. Moving the press from the first to third floor took five men and a cherry-picker, a tool that is used in auto shops to lift car engines. After nearly four hours (and one almost-broken toe) the Columbian was at last settled in its new home.
The Columbian press was invented in 1813 by George Clymer, an American mechanic in Philadelphia. Sadly, Columbian presses were not as popular in the U.S. as they were overseas and Clymer moved his business across the pond where the machines proved more popular. Despite American printers rejection of his press, Clymer continued to decorate the Columbian (the name itself a tribute to Clymer’s beloved America) in patriotic symbols. In fact, Columbian presses can be most easily identified by the bald Eagle counter-weight at the top of the press. To date, there are no remaining American made Columbians and any Columbians located in the U.S. were made abroad and shipped back to American printers.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
We box a lot of things in the Conservation Lab. Linda Lundy, our resident box maker extraordinaire, has making clamshell boxes down to a science. Every once in a while something a little more complicated comes along, but there is no stopping Linda!
The Engineering Library brought us such a case recently. A student group has a tradition of having buttons made for their events. The Engineering Library wanted to show off their collection and store the buttons in something better than a plastic baggie.
Linda created a great display and storage solution for them. She created two partitioned trays for the buttons to rest in. Behind each button there is a small piece of foam so the button can be attached for display and storage.
Linda then created a clamshell box for both of the trays to live in. The resulting box was beautiful, useful for storage and doubled well for display!
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
This spring and summer in Iowa City has brought lots of different types of weather and with that lots of different events to be prepared for. We were in a severe drought for most the winter and early spring, then the rains started. At the end of May as the river was rising outside our back door the library and the University began to put its flood preparation plan into place. In the Main Library that meant covering floor drains, moving supplies around, and moving high priority books out of the basement.
Since the Flood of 2008, the library has moved all of the special collection material from the basement. The only remaining books are on compact shelving. It was determined that we would need to move all of the items on the lowest shelves to higher ground. With the help of library staff volunteers under the direction of Circulation Staff we were able to move the books to the 4th floor.
But just as we thought we would be in the clear more storms rolled in! During a particularly bad storm all library staff and patrons were moved into the lower level to ride out a tornado warning. As we began to filter back into our top floor work areas we realized that we had sprung a couple of leaks.
Thanks to careful planning and lots of help we sprang into action and grabbed our trusty disaster cart. We were able to remove books from shelves and look them over for any signs of water. We placed tarps over the area and called in facilities services. Though the library didn’t end up taking on any water from the river it was a great feeling to be so prepared and not rushed.
Although we are looking at weekly forecast full of rain, we are confident that our preparations and readiness will keep our collections dry!
Friday, June 21, 2013
Submitted by Pamela Olson*
The Houghton almanac is dated from 1581 and includes a calendar for 24 years, tables of weights and measures, prayers, a history of England, and five bifolios of erasable pages for notetaking. It measures 4 3/8 x 3 inches with the spine at the head of the text block, and a full-leather cover impressed with a decorative block and line tooling. A stylus is housed in a groove in the back cover, and the erasable pages are made of parchment coated with gesso and animal glue, to be written upon with the stylus and erased with a damp cloth or sponge. Because this type of book was used daily and discarded when finished, extant copies are rare.
Following an in-depth discussion of the exemplar, we began making our own models as Spitzmueller presented demonstrations of creating erasable surfaces with parchment size and gouache, making the stylus, sewing the text block onto three cords, trimming and shaping the wood covers, rounding and lining the spine, attaching boards to the text block, adhering and embossing the leather cover, and making hooks and clasps out of brass. By the end of a productive week, each participant brought home their own historical model of this rare and unusual book.
*Pamela is currently in travel mode conducting research for her thesis.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013This year’s annual Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium’s Save Our Stuff! conference was held in Mason City, Iowa, Friday, June 7. SOS! is a time to get together and share successes, current projects, and creative solutions and to be reminded that no matter the size of collection or institution we have the same challenges and can learn from each other.
This year we had sessions on the restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Park Inn, dealing with mini disasters, risks and solutions for dealing with historic scrapbooks, flattening and storing architectural drawings, do’s and don’ts of digitization, restoring a greenhouse, re-housing puppets and marionettes, and preservation practices for managing storage environments.
ICPC is the only Iowa organization where staff from museums, libraries, archives, historical societies, county records, and other collection organizations work together to find solutions to preservation issues/concerns. SOS!is a great way to network and form alliances that can assist with our daily preservation challenges.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Last week I attended the American Institute for Conservation annual meeting. To keep up with my disaster response training, I went to all the sessions of particular interest to AIC-CERT (Collections Emergency Response Team) members. One session was on respirator fitness testing, including the actual fitness test. Before we could take the fitness test, we had to turn in a signed doctor’s statement of fitness. We reviewed how to put the mask on (chin in first) and clean it and then tested for a secure fit. As you can see, a bag is put over your head and then a scent is squirted into the bag. If you do not smell anything after you’ve moved your head from side to side, up and down, and read a statement, then you have a good fit. I’m happy to report that I past my test.
We also a reviewed several brands and styles of disposable N95 particulate respirators that can be purchased at a local drugstore or online. The important thing is to make sure that the disposable respirator is rated N95 or higher. The N95 mask will provide you protection during limited exposure to molds, dust and other airborne particulates (not oil). As always you should consult with your doctor before using any type of respirator and follow whatever protocol has been established for your work area.
This, my very first AIC annual meeting, was a wonderful learning experience. I was able to attend thanks to a partial scholarship from the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.