UI Libraries receives Carver grant to renovate exhibition space

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Exhibit Hall 1960In April, the University of Iowa Libraries was awarded $500,000 by the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust in support of the renovation of the Main Library Exhibition Space. Very exciting news!

Our current space was constructed in 1951 and has not changed much since then. Over the years, using the space as an exhibit became more and more challenging. Plus it was a space that people walked through to get from one side of the building to the other making it very difficult to engage anyone in an exhibit.

Due to the Learning Commons project which was completed in 2013, the current exhibition space is now a self-contained area. Anticipating the exhibition possibilities that the Exhibit Hall 2014 ConceptLearning Commons renovation would open up, we began working with consultant Liz Kadera on a gallery and exhibition space presentation. We were delighted that our new Library Director John Culshaw liked our concept drawings and pulled a team together to draft a proposal to present to the Carver Trust.

The renovation will create a more suitable and secure space dedicated to displaying books, manuscripts, maps, documents, artworks, and more from the Libraries collections.

Construction is planned to begin this fall with a proposed completion date of spring 2015.

First image courtesy of the UI Archives, 1960. Second image courtesy Liz Kadera, 2013.

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

An Ailing Herbal Comes to Conservation Lab

This book first came to the attention of Martin Rare Book Librarian Donna Hirst when a patron requested to see some of the herbals in the collection. The poor book had been overlooked, though at one time it appears to have seen a lot if use. Or maybe just a lot of neglect. Donna Hirst sent this to the lab for Conservator Emeritus Gary Frost to shore up. While Gary treats this book and gets it to a more handleable condition, I will shadow him and attempt to discover a little bit about this book—where it may have been bound, how typical of an example it is, its condition and what is to be done about it.

The book is a 1626  Frankfurt imprint of Pier Andrea Mattioli’s herbal, originally written in Italian nearly 75 years earlier as a commentary on Diosordies’ De Materia Medica. In 1556 an illustrated edition was published and began to be translated into other languages and widely published. An herbal is a book on plants usually with visual and written descriptions, as well as medicinal, horticultural, and preparatory information.  This particular book is large and has color illustrations, but without much notation.

As you can see from the following images, the book has a rather sorry appearance. The spine has gone concave and is partly exposed. The alum taw (the book covering material) is soiled and has torn along the board edges. Part of the rear board is long missing. The spine liners of parchment are curling away and one of the endbands is gone. Many interior pages are ripped, soiled and have large losses, especially in the first and last few signatures.

Although the initial reaction may be one of disgust or sorrow for the book’s condition, it seems to be the original binding and the condition itself can reveal much about the book’s history. Stay tuned!

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.

It’s A Clover Mite!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The “bug guy” stopped by this morning. It is, indeed, a clover mite. Had we just consulted our marking/binding supervisor, Deb, we could have skipped consulting with our pest control contractor. When I told her about the clover mite, she said, “oh, yeah, my grandkids love them. They like to squish them and see the sidewalk turn red.” It’s all in knowing whom to ask! Probably most gardners would know that our bug was a clover mite.

The biggest danger to our books is that these bugs do easily squish and leave a red stain. We are monitoring the books. So far, nothing. Since they don’t breed in or munch on books, the books will go back to the processing area tomorrow.

Our pest control contractor told us that there are lots of these clover mites just outside the dock door and outside the south Main Library entrance. They either came in along with our box of books or rode in on the student who found them.

A careful observer — which I, obviously, am not — can see these little critters in the flowers just outside the library.

It Might Be a Mite

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

We had a little bit of excitement this afternoon. A student worker had a small red mite fall out of a book he was processing. We called the “bug” guy who will visit us tomorrow. We’re hoping it’s a clover mite. Apparently, they are plentiful this year. The clover mite does not like books but will leave a red stain if smushed. In the meantime, we’ve bagged the books from that particular shipment until we get confirmation of what we are dealing with.

Here’s text book photograph along side photo of our little critter:

Learn more about the clover mite at: http://doyourownpestcontrol.com/clovermites.htm

A Typical Day of Flood Recovery Work

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I checked in with the conservation lab staff this morning. I happened to have my camera with me and thought you might like to have a snapshot of a typical day. This is the activity I captured at 10AM this morning.

While the ledger from the Johnson County Historical Society dries in the press, Gary begins to inspect and separate the pages from the next ledger in the queue.

While the records from the National Czech & Slovak Library & Museum are drying, Beth is mending a record cover.

Caitlin is cleaning a manuscript from the African American Museum of Iowa and Bryan is cutting board to make folders for Czech records.

Kristin is searching for the “perfect” spill guard to put around our new water system for the “just-in-case” pipe leak. The last time we had a pipe break all the water went into the Library Director’s office. Not a good thing!

Richard Smith Provides Freeze Dryer Training

Monday, March 2, 2009

Dick Smith, the inventor of the Wei T’o Book Freeze Dryer and Insect Exterminator, after checking all the controls to make sure they had survived the trip, spent the day training us on how to use the freezer. The first step is to set the controls to freeze the books. Once the books are frozen, the freezer controls are changed slightly for the freeze drying process. The drying is done through with additional fans and controlled defrost cycles. It’s similar to a home freezer. If you leave a tray of ice cubes in your home self-defrosting freezer long enough, the ice will disappear. Wet books typically dry within 2-4 weeks in a book freeze dryer.

We have probes that we set inside 2-3 different size books to monitor the internal temperature. One of our first tasks was to uncoil the probes and plug into the freezer.

ISU Preservation staff joined us for the day. They have a freeze dryer and welcomed the chance to get a refresher class from Dick.

Kraft Receives Midwest Archives Conference Presidents’ Award

Thursday, February 26, 2009

This morning at 8:30 I received the following email. Imagine my surprise! For years I’ve been a strong advocate for the preservation of all types of collections, including library, museum, manuscripts, and archives. I’ve spent time learning about the issues, organization, and language unique to each collection type. It’s really great that I’m receiving an award “outside” my profession.


We are very pleased to inform you that you have been selected as a 2009 recipient of the Presidents’ Award presented by the Midwest Archives Conference.

This award, established in 1986, recognizes significant contributions to the archival profession by individuals, institutions, and organizations not directly involved in archival work but knowledgeable about its purpose and value. Recipients are chosen by a committee comprising the three most recent past presidents of MAC from nominations submitted by committees in each of the 13 states in the MAC region.

The four of us agree that your tireless efforts following last June’s devastating floods alone merit this recognition. In addition, your lifelong commitment to assisting our profession is deeply appreciated by your colleagues. Thank you for all you have done for us in preserving and strengthening our collections.

The award committee will send you a more formal letter of notification soon, along with information about MAC’s annual meeting, which this year will be held in St. Louis, Missouri, from April 29 to May 2. We hope you can join us as our guest. Awards will be presented during the annual membership meeting at that time.

Again, congratulations! We are fortunate to know you as a colleague and as a friend.”

David McCartney
Kären Mason
Rachel Vagts
Tanya Zanish-Belcher

Bringing In Book Freeze Dryer No Small Task

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

We’ve been eagerly awaiting our new book freeze dryer, especially since our old one is on its last leg AND we have lots of frozen art books waiting to be dried out. It took 2 hours to get the Wei T’o Hussmann freeze dryer in place.

The book freezer weighs 1730 lbs crated and 1430 lbs uncrated. It stands 86″ high x 67 1/2″ wide x 36 1/2″ deep. It was too tall to make it through the doors in the upright position so it had to be turned on its side. BUT not on the side with all the controls.

So how many people does it take to get such a large freezer into the building? And how does one turn it on it’s side without damaging the freezer? I’ll let the photos tell the story! Or see it on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSelj2zmukQ
Special thanks to everyone who helped get the freezer in place.