Volunteer Begins Working File Project

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Our publicity has been paying off! Marilyn Maynard, a local Iowa Citian, read about our recovery efforts in the Press Citizen and thought she might be able to contribute. She is currently working on a project designed to clean and copy the working files for the African American Museum.

The files were in a large filing cabinet and are dirty and warped with water damage. Our volunteers will be dry cleaning them with eraser crumbs to prepare them for photocopying. The folders are being replaced and the information hand copied onto the new folders. 

This is a large scale project and would possibly have been dropped if it wasn’t for the help of volunteers like Marilyn simply because it would be too expensive. The fact that we have people willing to take on some of these projects allows the museums to put their money to use in other places and makes it possible to save more of these collections than we would have otherwise. 

Some other workflows we hope to get going with our volunteers are cleaning, flattening, and rehousing newspapers from the Czech Slovak Museum and cleaning, and rehousing court dockets for the Johnson County Historical Society. 

Disaster Planning E-Forum a Success!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Walter Cybulski, Preservation Librarian at the National Library of Medicine, and I led a two-day e-forum lsitserv discussion on disaster planning and response. We weren’t really sure how it would work but were willing to give it a try. It was exhausting but well worth it. 

We shared sites for resources; discussed mutual aid agreements, “disaster response” exercises for training, and tips on dealing with a disaster; had lots of ideas and pointed to templates for crafting a disaster response plan; talked about how to deal with water leaks and the virtues of cleaning or not cleaning mud from books before packing up; pondered whether to store record album covers and discs together or separately; had a rather lively discussion about mold clean up; and identified funding for recovery and working with FEMA as an area that needed further action at the national level.

We had 549 subscribers and posted close to 100 emails. The e-forum was free and sponsored by the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services, a division of the American Library Association.

For the archives of this discussion go to: http://lists.ala.org/sympa, click on ALCTS (spelled out) under the ALA Division heading, then choose alcts-eforum@ala.org

More Civil War Letters

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Here is another Civil War letter similar to the one posted below, only here the additional challenges were that the letter required some flattening of the wrinkles and folds before mending and the repair tissue had to be tinted.

This letter was pressed overnight between moistened blotter paper to flatten it.

Then the Walters repair tissue was tinted to match the original.  The tissue was brushed with a thin wash of acrylic paint and allowed to dry overnight on polyester sheet.

Once the tissue dries, mending proceeds as before.

To see a scan of the completed work in our digital collection, click here:


Preparing Civil War Letter for Scanning

Thursday, January 15, 2009

One of the collections that the department is currently digitizing is a collection of letters and diaries relating to the Civil War.  While most are in good condition, a few are so torn that they require considerable mending before they can be scanned. 

For our mending, we use Walters repair tissue which we have previously prepared.  It is made by brushing adhesive (half paste, half methylcellulose) in a thin layer onto kozo repair tissue which is then layed down on a sheet of polyester and allowed to dry. 

 For mending tears, small strips of the Walters tissue are torn from the sheet using a needle tear or a water brush tear.  The strips are positioned over the tear with the dried adhesive side down and reactivated using a moist cotton swab or water brush.  They then dry under blotter or Remay and small weights.  Infills are treated similarly, with patches adhered to the edges of both sides of the paper loss.


To see the finished product, scanned and uploaded into our digital collection click here:


Moving The Music Library

Monday, January 5, 2009

Since we don’t know how long the music library will be inaccessible or even if the building will remain, the music collection needed to be moved. The Music Library began it’s move to the Main Library today and will probably take two weeks. The preparation for this move actually started in November. In order to make room for the music collection, the Chemistry collection on 2nd floor Main had to be re-located to the Hardin Library for Health Sciences. The circulating music book collection is going into the spot vacated by the Chemistry collection.

The rest of the collection (rare books, recordings, etc) will be taking over the 5th floor study lounge, so it can be locked and monitored. The music library staff will be on the 5th floor with that collection. We will be losing some additional seating in the Main Library an already tight situation.

The bid to move the chemistry collection and the Music Library was awarded to Carney-McNicholas, an Ohio based company. This is the company that moved the Des Moines Central Library and has worked on a number of colleges and universities moves.

Goodby Ventilation Equipment

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

All are in agreement that we no longer need the additional ventilation equipment. Early arriving staff will finally be able to enter the building through the west door. It’ll be good to be back to “normal” — at least for the Main Library staff. We’ve had the equipment around so long that someone personalized the air tube outside the administration offices. I have been entering my work area for several weeks by walking under this tube. Taller people have had to duck.

Overlooked Files

Thursday, August 28, 2008

We’re very lucky to have Facilities Management for our area stationed in the Main Library. When we need to discuss something we can go down to the basement and talk directly to the staff. When Mike Lee discovered he had some wet files, we were happy to be able to offer him some assistance. We stuck them in the freezer until we had time to dry them out. Gary Frost has discovered a rather painless way to dry out these files. In the fume hood in case there is any mold and so air will vent out and a fan blowing on the files. He changes the position of the files every once in a while. Although our jobs require that we are creative in our problem solving, we’ve become even more so after the floods.

HVAC Augmentation

Monday, August 4, 2008

We were lucky in the Main Library. We have three air handlers and have managed to keep two of the three working. With one out, we needed a way to keep air circulating everywhere. Plastic air tubes were placed strategically throughout the building to augment our HVAC system. Air is brought in and then circulated through our system. We needed this extra boost for the health of staff and collections. Stale air can be a real problem. We were also able to maintain a temperature and humidity that is typical for our building — 70-80 degrees and 50-60% relative humidity.

Dumbwaiter and Phone Bill

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Our morning newspaper reminded us that the flood happened a month ago today. It seems like yesterday and also months ago.

My binding supervisor called letting me know that she has been getting sick everyday she comes to work but thinks she has it figured out. Right near her desk is a little dumbwaiter that was used a long time ago to bring books up and down. This little area was never cleaned out. Probably has a ton of mold and other ucky stuff in it. I called our facilities manager, Gary Grout. He got right on it. The area was cleaned out by BMS CAT by early afternoon. Gary told me that during the early days of cleaning out the UI Main Library, everyone said we need to remember this little room. Then everyone forgot about it later. Now I don’t feel quite so bad for forgetting about the bubble wrapped items. We all said we need to remember to do this and then we all forgot. It’s really hard to keep all the details up front and moving forward.

After the phone call, I started back to work on my email. (The never ending email.) I found an urgent email from my cell phone company, stating that I had a $410 bill!!! Ouch! I wasted no time in calling Verizon to see about changing my plan since I see no end to cell phone calls. As soon as I mentioned “flood,” they started working with me to reduce my bill. My “overage” got whittled down to $30. Whew, what a relief.

We’re slowly getting back on track with our home life. Did lots of laundry and some cleaning.