Fixing a detached cover

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library recently acquired this sweet chunky 19th century religious text and brought it into the lab.  The binding had broken away from the text block after the first signature because it was so large. The cover was consolidated and the hinges were repaired with colored Japanese paper.

The book had broken away from the cover.
The book had broken away from the cover.
The hinges were fixed with colored Japanese paper
The hinges were fixed with colored Japanese paper


Hidden behind the binding and now revealed because of the failure was a nice piece of cotton cloth used as a spine liner. The spine was relined with gelatin sized Japanese paper for strength and the book was reassembled.  Once assembled the paper hinges were tinted with paint to match the original leather.  A four flap enclosure was made and the book was off to the NCSML to become part of their growing collection.

A scrap of cotton was used as a spine lining
A scrap of cotton was used as a spine lining
Tinted hinges to match the original leather
Tinted hinges to match the original leather

Piecing together a flood damaged map

Friday, October 19, 2012

We are nearing the end of the flood damaged flatwork for the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library.  One of the final pieces was a map that had previously been broken into 32 pieces and lined on a linen cloth.

Czech map  before
Czech map before

We carefully removed each piece of the map from the linen backing.  We then washed each piece to remove any mud and debris from the flood and to make sure all residual adhesive was gone.

Mending Gang
Mending Gang

Since the map was in so many pieces we needed to work quickly to puzzle it back together.  Bill Voss and Giselle Simon rounded out what has to be the fastest puzzle team this side of the Iowa River.

Czech map mending
Czech map mending

Bill and I made some paste and pasted our backing sheet of handmade Japanese paper to the counter top.  We then moistened each piece of the map and carefully placed it upon the paper.  We worked quickly to add all the tiny pieces of the map and then placed blotters on it to help it dry.

Once the map was completely dry it was removed from the counter and encapsulated.  Only a few more pieces of flatwork to go and the NCSML will have all their pieces back!

It’s a small world

Friday, May 18, 2012

AAMI Bible with Kolarik Bindery Check
AAMI Bible with Kolarik Bindery Check
I always love when things come together to remind us how small the world really is.  I have been working on a Bible from the African American Museum of Iowa that was damaged in the flood. The Bible was in pretty bad shape.  The binding had totally failed and it was basically just a stack of sheets.  I cleaned every page and then consulted Gary for next step.  He suggested jogging each page together and gluing using the double fan method so that the Bible could be bound once again.

As I was cleaning the sheets a cancelled check to the Kolarik Bindery fell out of the pages.  It was a check to have the Bible rebound in 1973.  This was significant to me as most of the Kolarik bindery equipment was donated to the UI Center for the Book to help establish a central location for students to study bookbinding.

While thinking about how great it was to have a book bound at the Kolarik Bindery as I was working on a book for the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, I looked down at the treatment sheet and was amazed to see that the author’s last name was Kolarik.  Suddenly it all came together – Kolarik is a Czech name.

So while working on a book for the African American Museum of Iowa, I was connected to the Kolarik Bindery and the UI Center for the Book as well as to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library!

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:

Record Return!

Preparing to move all 30 boxes on a cart.
Preparing to move all 30 boxes of clean records.

We have been working on many projects for various museums that got hit by the flood of 2008. Remember the entry way back on December 18 of 2009? We may have sounded elated about our accomplishments then, but now we are for sure! We have finally finished the rest of the flood-damaged phonograph records.

cleaning the record
Cleaning the record.
applying Disc Doctor cleaning supply to cloth
Applying Disc Doctor cleaning supply to record cleaning device.

All 1580 10-inch LPs and 78 rpms were thoroughly cleaned, sleeved and boxed. We are estimating that this process took at least 400 hours. These records were returned to The National Czech& Slovak Museum within 30 boxes.

Dave and Katie retrieving the records at the museum.
Dave and Katie retrieving the records at the library.
record and book delivery
The records and books packed up and on their way to Cedar Rapids.



Odor Reduction for Books in Storage

The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Libraries have a vast collection of books damaged in the flood. Most of their collection is currently in storage in Cedar Rapids awaiting treatment. We recently received a box of books that was pretty smelly. In order to help curb the smell we developed a new way to use an odor reducer that we have been using for some time in the lab.

sealing with a tacking iron
A Technician seals the tea bag with the tacking iron.
Gonzo Odor Eliminator
Large bag of Gonzo Odor Eliminator ready to be opened.

The Gonzo Odor Eliminator comes in large bags, too big to fit into boxes filled with books.  We decided to make smaller packages of the rocks to be able to place an odor eliminator into each box of books.  We ordered large heat-sealable tea bags and set to work.  Each package of Odor Eliminator was opened and poured into approximately 12 tea bags.  Each bag was then sealed with a tacking iron.  Once sealed the bags were placed into the boxes of books to help reduce the “flood smell” on the books.

Smaller odor reducing package
Gonzo Odor Eliminator in an open tea bag.

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!

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:

Moving On!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The long awaited day arrived at last. We moved out of our “dirty room” at Oakdale Hall, took down our sign, and turned in our keys! Over 18 months ago in the midst of finding space for faculty and students, University of Iowa officials took time to find us a room where we could store the flood damaged items from the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and the African American Museum of Iowa. I’m still amazed at the fast turn around time we had for the flood response. The flood waters hit these two museums June 12, 2008. We were salvaging collections by June 18 and had a place at the University secured by June 23 with collections arriving the next day. Work on collections began immediately. Wow!

I suspect that this time table seemed really slow for the staffs of the two museums. I know it would feel slow if it were my collections. However, for an area disaster on the scale we had, this is very quick response time.

At one time this room was so full of items that we could barely move. The room allowed us to put things on hold until the museums could decide how to move forward. We started to clean the Czech LPs immediately as they were the most valuable and at highest risk of further damage. The Czech/Slovak staff took several boxes of items back for volunteers to clean. The African American staff brought in a consultant conservator to assist in prioritizing material.

We stored close to 5,000 records and 500 museum objects until we had them clean enough to bring into the conservation lab. Not all items were taken to the lab for final cleaning. Many were cleaned at Oakdale either because they were too big or the cleaning process was too dirty and smelly. Several objects were sent off to other conservation labs. All the LP and 45 records are clean and returned to the Czech/Slovak Museum and close to 300 objects have been returned to the African American museum. Others are waiting to be picked up. We have less than 30 objects left to clean.

We owe a special thanks to Steve Stenstrom (Wooden Object Conservator, Windsor Heights, IA) who conducted several sessions on cleaning metals and wooden objects; Helen Alten (Objects Conservator, West Virginia) who provided training and guidance on baskets and gourds; and Gary Frost (UI Libraries Conservator) who provided assistance with cleaning of the records, miscellaneous paper items, and the Jackson banner.

We could not have provided the flood recovery work for the African American Museum of Iowa and the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library without this room.

The rest of our work will be conducted in our conservation lab.

Though we still have much to do, it was a big step (physically and psychologically) to move out of the Oakdale campus. The end is in sight!!

Flood-Damaged Phonograph Records Sent Home

Friday, December 18, 2009

A much awaited event finally arrived. We returned close to 1,500 sound recordings to David Muhlena, Library Director for the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids. Cleaning the records was very labor intensive. We began our work in July 2008, working in the Paper Lab cleaning off the worst of the mud, mold, bacteria, and river debris. In September 2008, we brought the records to the conservation lab for a more thorough cleaning. We’re estimating that actual hands-on cleaning time was around 750 hours. We’re not done yet. We only returned the LPs and 45s, we still have the 78s to clean.

We could not have competed this project without the donation of archival tan board for the three flap enclosures by Archival Products, Des Moines, Iowa and funding for new sink/water system from the State Historical Society of Iowa Historical Resources Development Program (HRDP).

The local media has been very supportive in covering our flood “mile markers.” It’s always good to get the message out that many flood/water damaged items can be salvaged and to remind the public that recovery from a disaster such as the Iowa Flood of 2008 takes time.

UI Libraries restoring thousands of flood-damaged relics