Czech book project

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

One of the projects that we’ve just begun to address has been waiting two years. The Czech Slovak library has roughly 7500 books that were frozen post flood. They estimate that 20 % of the books are damaged beyond repair and will need to be replaced.  Nancy and I went up to meet with Dave Muhlena to get an idea of the range of material and extent of the damage to the books. We took a random sample of 19 books which I brought back to the lab to work on. This children’s book was in such bad shape I thought it would be a good example. These images are of the book in it’s post flood condition before it’s been worked on.

To flatten this book I humidified it, interleaved with 10 pt. card and put it in the press overnight. The moisture relaxed the paper and the card interleaving absorbed the excess. The pressure of the press reshaped the warped pages to lie flat again. I lined the pastedowns and endsheets with paste and thin japanese paper so I could reattach them to the text block. I made new endpapers and a new case for the cover and reattached the cover image to the front of the book. This was the result:

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.”

Banner Repaired

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Blog IMG_0858This banner from the African American Museum was signed by Jesse Jackson. The signature and surrounding illustration were sprayed with some sort of fixative which didn’t end up being very sound. The large part of the banner was fine but the areas with the fixative were detached and curling up away from the image, taking with it the signature and image.

Blog IMG_0853After consulting with Gary we decided the best course of treatment would be using diluted lascaux adhesive. I applied this with a tiny brush and tacked down all the small curling flags. It was very time consuming but for the most part successful. The image and signature remain intact.

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Czech Pipe

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blog IMG_0564This carved wooden pipe from the Czech Slovak Museum was covered in mud and dust. Since it has so many small crevices it was very hard to clean. I used dampened swabs to remove the dirt. It is in three pieces and combined it took 6 hours to clean.

Below is the before (left) and after (right) cleaning of the pipe stem.
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Suitcase Saga Part 4: Conclusion

Thursday, December 12, 2009

After lots of fussing and fiddling the suitcase is finally done. I removed all the rust from the exterior and cleaned up the metal. The interior was trickier. I removed the paper lining and lined it with a heavy japanese paper and wheat starch paste. Underneath the paper the metal of the suitcase was extremely rusty so I removed that rust as well before re-adhering the new “lined lining”.  It wasn’t possible to remove the mold stains from the paper lining so this suitcase has ended up with a much more colorful interior than it ever had in it’s pre-flood life!

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New Volunteer Elizabeth

Friday, November 20, 2009

Blog IMG_0021Elizabeth Boyne has joined us in the lab as our newest volunteer. We have no shortage of projects. She started with cleaning and flattening newspapers from the Czech Slovak Museum but will most likely clean a collection of busts from the African American Museum and assist with cleaning and flattening manuscript files. Elizabeth is a Graduate Student enrolled in the Joint SLIS and Center for the Book program. She will be working with us in addition to working in Book Repair with Susan Hansen. We’re always excited to gain an extra pair of hands!

Where We Are Now

Monday, November 16, 2009

On October 23 we sent another round of artifacts back to the African American Museum. We also sent back the first of the manuscript boxes to be cleaned.

We hope to be out of Oakdale Hall by the end of the year and it is heartening to see it empty out a little more each time we send things back. Almost all the metal objects have been finished and we are in the process of completing the wooden items from the African American Museum. We have only a few remaining objects from the Czech Slovak Museum that need to be cleaned.

The African American Museum Manuscript box project, which consists of 105 boxes of files that need to be cleaned, flattened, and rehoused, is well underway. Twenty three boxes have been returned and there are several more in various states of progress.

The LP and 45 Collections are virtually finished, we are still researching cleaning methods for the 78s. Once we have returned the LPs we will be able to move the remaining objects at Oakdale Hall to be stored at the Library.

The fact that we are getting to the point where we can consolidate items is a pretty big deal. When the flood recovery began we were bursting at the seams wondering where on earth we would find the room to store all of these things. Now that we have some breathing room it is easier to see the progress that we have been making.

Steve Stenstrom Workshop on Shellac Finishes

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Blog shellac 004Steve Stenstrom returned to the UI to teach us about Shellac. We learned about the properties of Shellac and the different ways to use it. Steve brought us pieces of wood to work with and we all got some experience “french polishing” which consists of a cotton pad soaked in Shellac wrapped in a piece of cotton (old tshirts work the best). Using the pads we learned the basic technique for finishing a piece of wood with shellac. This will mainly be applied to the trophies and plaques we have from the African American Museum.

Read “The Story of Shellac” and learn how insects make shellac.

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Presenting to the Iowa Special Libraries Association

Monday, November 9, 2009

On Nov. 6 Beth and I gave a presentation to the Iowa Special Libraries Association in Lindquist Hall. It was one of our first experiences presenting the flood project. It was a good feeling to see how interested people are in what we have been doing. The talk was scheduled to be an hour which seemed like an incredibly long time to have to fill when we started but I didn’t realize until we were putting our presentation together how much we’ve actually gotten accomplished. It’s hard to take a step back and see the big picture sometimes so explaining it to others gave us a new perspective and it was very encouraging.

Storage is as important as treatment

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

dessicant bagThe objects we have received since the flood span a wide range of materials. Since we couldn’t work on everything immediately, one of the first things we had to address was proper storage. The wooden objects were set out to dry as were the baskets and miscellaneous plastic, ceramic, glass items. The metals however presented a problem. They were rusting and since we weren’t able to get to them immediately we needed to arrest the deterioration somehow.

After doing some research and consulting with Steve Stenstrom, an objects conservator, we bought large plastic tubs in which we could create a micro-environment for the metal objects. This allowed us more control over the condition of their surroundings. We put packages of plastic tub with metal objects and dessicants dessicant in the tubs with the metals to absorb any moisture which might contribute to the deterioration of the metal. The dessicant packets were switched out periodically and we were able to slow the process of rusting until we had a chance to stabilize the objects.

The items in the tub to the left are already cleaned and waiting to go back home to the African American Museum of Iowa.