Johnson County Record Books

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

We have conserved a number of record books from the Flood of 2008 for the Johnson County Historical Society.  Most of them have been pretty straight forward in the treatment that was needed.  We were so close to being finished with all of the record books when we came across a record book that hadn’t been sewn, but needed to be rebound.

This meant we needed to double-fan or perfect bind the book.  This process uses adhesive to keep all the pages together.  It is the process used to bind most paperback books on the market today.  It is a fairly simple process but the sheer size of the record book made it a little difficult.

The record book all glued up.
The record book all glued up.

The record book in question is 18″ tall, 12″ wide and 3″ thick, too big to fit into any of our lying presses! Bill and I jogged the textblock together and using all four of our hands clamped the book together.  I then glued the textblock together and lined the spine.  We could then move onto casing the book in.

The record book rebound
The record book rebound

Andrea’s Awesome Flood Recovery Video

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Still from Andrea's Video
A Still from Andrea's Video

Recovering from a flood can take years and can be overwhelming if you don’t have help. Luckily the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and the University of Iowa Libraries have lots of excellent help. The UI Libraries Conservation Lab continues to act as a flood recovery lab for the area museums impacted by the Flood of 2008. Many students workers and volunteers are assisting in the recovery of the NCSML books. We have sorted out the books into “rare” and “general”. The rare items receive full conservation treatment. To save time, money, and have an attractive book to put back on the shelf, we have developed a special workflow. The text block is taken out of the covers, cleaned, flattened, and edges trimmed slightly. The text block is sent off to a commercial bindery. If the cover or jacket has information or interesting artwork, the cover or jacket is sent along with the book. The cover image is digitized and used to make a new cover. Student worker, Andrea Kohashi, has explained the process in her video:

Moving out of 5th floor

Room 5065 Typewriting
Our storage in the old typewriting room.
Have you ever wondered what was in room 5065 “staff office” with the classification of the word typewriting across the door? Well, today is your lucky day. The room use to be a work space where PhD candidates’ dissertations were typed. Furthermore, this was our storage space for the items being recovered from the flood.
empty shelf in storage room
Finally the shelf is empty!
More empty storage space
Another empty storage space completed.

These shelves were piled with storage containers carrying anything from books to objects from The African American Museum of Iowa, The National Czech & Slovak Museum, and The Johnson County Historical Society. While it could be overwhelming imagining this space full; we are ecstatic to confirm that nothing pertaining to our department dwells there. You can breathe again and take in some of these pictures showing the unhabituated space.

Good-bye Caitlin, Hello Kathleen

Kathleen Tandy working
New Flood Recovery Conservation Technician Tandy Working

Good-bye Caitlin, Hello Kathleen

Caitlin Moore, our Flood Recovery Conservation Technician, is moving on to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.  We are sad to see her go but are so thankful for all the work she has done for the past three years. Good Luck, Caitlin!

We welcome Kathleen Tandy to fill Caitlin’s position as the Flood Recovery Conservation Technician. Kathleen comes to us from the State Historical Society of Iowa where she was working on conserving Civil War Muster Rolls for the State of Iowa.  Welcome Kathleen!

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.

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

OceanTeacher Academy Disaster Response Session 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

I am, once again, teaching a Disaster Planning and Recovery course at the OceanTeacher Academy in Ostend, Belgium. Today we learned about air drying books which can be very tedious and time consuming. Each book needs to have plain paper inserted between the covers and every few pages to wick up the water. Once the paper is wet, the paper needs to be changed for dry paper to continue to wick up the water to hasten the drying of the pages in the books.

We also learned that we needed to look at our building inside and out to see if there is anything that could become a disaster. Librarian Jan Haspeslagh gave us a tour of his library and pointed out things that are problems for his library. In particular, this library has drain spouts that are disconnected.

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: