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.

Frost Honored by Guild of Book Workers

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gary Frost, Conservator, University of Iowa Libraries, has been given the Lifetime Achievement Award for 2010 by the Guild of Book Workers. The Guild, founded in 1906, is focused on service to the hand bookbinding community. Frost joins other Awards recipients Bernard Middleton, Hedi Kyle, Don Etherington and Michael Wilcox. He is cited for contributions to conservation education and bookbinding studies. The Award will be presented this week during the “Standards of Excellence Seminar” in Tucson, Arizona, October 14-16.

The GBW article citing Gary’s achievments notes that Gary was a “key player during the pivotal period in the ’70s when the bookbinding field turned its attention from the traditional focus on the decoration of the book to the new fascination with the structure of the book.” The article talks about Gary’s fine drawings detailing book structures and his thought-provoking website http://futureofthebook.com/. The article concludes that “Gary is a rare bird who over four decades has become a monumental personality in the book world.” For entire article see http://guildofbookworkers.org/awards

What the article doesn’t note is Gary’s tendency to make up words when he can’t find one to describe something. Those of us who work with Gary have caught on to his unique use of words and have even started using some of his words and phrases. So much so that when we write something for public consumption, we have someone else read the text for “Garyisms” so we can re-write into plain English!

Congratulations, Gary, it’s an honor to have worked with you these past 10 years.

UI Preservation Librarian Keynote Speaker

University of Iowa Libraries Head of Preservation, Nancy E. Kraft, will be delivering the keynote address at the 10th annual Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium S.O.S. Save Our Stuff! preservation seminars. Kraft will discuss Connecting to Collections, a national preservation initiative and Iowa’s role in this effort.

Conference topics include identification of 19th century photo processes and care of photographic collections; customized storage systems; historic structure maintenance; emergency preparedness; behind the scenes tours of State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI), and a special session and tour of the Battle Flag Project at the SHSI.

The S.O.S. Save Our Stuff! preservation seminars will be held at the State Historical Society of Iowa building in Des Moines, IA on Friday June 6, 2008, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Genealogists, librarians, archivists, museum workers, conservators, county clerks, historical society volunteers and anyone who cares about preserving our heritage are encouraged to participate.  The SOS seminars and tours will cost $40 for ICPC members and $50 for non-members.  The fee includes the State Historical Society of Iowa building tours and lunch.  Registration by May 31, 2008 reserves your lunch.

Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium (ICPC) is a membership organization seeking to initiate, encourage, and enhance preservation and conservation activities by providing basic preservation education and training.

Detailed information about joining ICPC and registering for SOS can be found at http://www.iowaconserveandpreserve.org/?page_id=330, or request a registration form by contacting Nancy E. Kraft at 319-335-5286, nancy-e-kraft@uiowa.edu or Lucy David at 319-338-0514, lucy-david@uiowa.edu.

Gary Frost to direct library conservation project in Peru

A University of Iowa Libraries preservation team will assist conservation of historical libraries of Arequipa, Peru. Arequipa is in the southern region of Peru near the border with Chile.  With a population of one million it is the second largest city. The city is 40 miles from the coast and surrounded by volcanoes and expansive canyon lands. The region has had long pre-Incan settlement with an archeological record of more than 6,000 years. The Incan intrusion began in the 14th century. Spanish settlement was established in 1539.

The project team will demonstrate actions needed to preserve these historical libraries. Specialists Chela Metzger from the Kilgarlin Center for the Preservation of the Cultural Record, University of Texas at Austin, Anna Embree, from the School of Library and Information Studies, The University of Alabama and  project director Gary Frost, UICB Instructor and University of Iowa Libraries will demonstrate non-damaging exhibit installation, methods for preservation of historical libraries and cleaning and stabilization of book collections.  The team will also participate in salvage of collections from earthquake damage.

Libraries for the education of clerics were founded beginning in the mid 17th century. Subsequent acquisition programs have continued to build the collections bringing together printed books imported to Peru as well as those printed in Peru over a period of five centuries. The genres collected include civil and cannon law, theology, ecclesiastic history, philosophy, sociology, and linguistics. The church libraries have also served as repositories for magazines, newspapers and regional imprints of various kinds.

Freezer preservation: Donated appliance helps UI save water-damaged goods [The Gazette]

Freezer preservation
Donated appliance helps UI save water-damaged goods

By Suzanne Barnes
The Gazette
IOWA CITY — When you reach into your grocer’s freezer for a bag of broccoli, you’re performing the same action UI Libraries Conservator Gary Frost does at the University of Iowa Libraries.  The only difference is you are taking out and he is putting in. In order to preserve books and other materials that have gotten wet, Frost places them in a 1981 Hussman freezer which was donated to the UI in 2006 by the University of Texas, where Frost also has worked. He calls the freezer, which is like the one at your grocery store, a “work horse.” Here’s how the work horse operates. “Blast freezing” a book to between minus 30 and minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit stops the damage of water wicking through it and also inhibits the growth of mold. The next step is to “freeze dry” the book, which is warming it to just below freezing. The ice within the book forms a frost on the outside, much like the frost that forms on a package in a grocer’s freezer when moist, warm air enters as the door is open. To rid the book of that ice, fans blow the ice crystals onto the colder freezer coils, where ice re-forms. That process is called subliming.  Ice on the coils is then melted and removed from the freezer during defrosting. A home refrigerator with a frost-free freezer works the same way, in a sense continually purging the compartment of frost. It’s what causes freezer burn. The freezing method, said Frost, has been around for about 25 years and is used by other libraries and institutions. Iowa State University has two of the freezers to help with conservation. And it’s not just books that benefit from the process either. Anything in the university’s “tangible collections,” such as fabrics or furniture or taxidermy, can go through the process as long as it fits in the 52-cubic-inch freezer.  For example, the Nov. 20, 2001, fire at Old Capitol also resulted in tens of thousands of gallons of water pouring into the building and onto the furnishings. One of the arms of an Old Capitol chair fell off not long ago, Frost said, because of internal moisture. Placing the chair in the freezer and going through the blast freezing, freeze drying and subliming would remove any remaining water from the chair. Incidents that result in damage to books, furniture and other items are not always as dramatic as the Old Capitol fire. Sometimes a dehumidifier can overflow or water pipes leak or a roof drain may malfunction. Frost said the UI also helps others with moisture problems, including materials from the Mississippi gulf coast. And the UI library is a member of the Iowa Preservation and Conservation Consortium, which provides help to all smaller collections and archives. “We’re always on hand to assist,” he said. The process, which always begins with blast freezing and freeze drying, also can be used to kill insects.

Contact the writer: (319) 398-8434 or suzanne.barnes@ gazettecommunications.com

UI Libraries Brings Historic Dental College Photos To Life

In 1883, with its first class, the College of Dentistry at the University of Iowa began a tradition of mounting individual portraits of graduates on photo boards. Over time, these boards made their home in the basement of the college’s modern building, where they were silently deteriorating until last year. Today, these images — part of university’s heritage — have been preserved in the UI Libraries’ Dentistry College Class Photos Collection.


UI Libraries Brings Historic Dental College Photos To Life

Mascagni Prints Project completed at Hardin Library

August 18, 2006

What is probably the most spectacular book in The University of Iowa Libraries is the exceedingly rare elephant-sized folio of hand-colored anatomical plates known as the Anatomia universa of Paolo Mascagni, an eighteenth-century Italian physician and teacher. So rare is this work that it is little known even to specialists, though it may be said that Mascagni’s atlas is to the field of human anatomy what the famous bird illustrations of Audubon are to the field of ornithology — most striking examples of applied art.

A gift from Dr. John Martin of Clarinda, Iowa, The University of Iowa’s copy of this masterpiece is in pristine condition, having remained until recently in the possession of the same Italian family since its publication more than 150 years ago. Comprised of two sets of 44 plates, this “book” is so large it has never been bound.


Books at Iowa 38 (April 1963)

Until recently, the size of these magnificent prints has prevented them from being shown to the public as a set.  Now, with the help and expertise of Conservator Gary Frost, they are mounted so that the entire set can be viewed at a glance while their safety remains assured.  Digital images from this collection can be viewed here.

Shown is Caitlin Moore who cut mats and assembled the forty display frames.
Shown is Caitlin Moore who cut mats and assembled the forty display frames.

Visit from Armenian Manuscript & Book Scholar, Sylvie Merian

On October 12th, 2004, Sylvie Merian, Reference Librarian at the Pierpont Morgan Library, provided the UI book studies community with a terrific illustrated lecture on the medieval Armenian manuscript book, entitled What Makes a Medieval Manuscript Medieval? Problems with the Periodization of Armenian Manuscripts. She defined the Armenian manuscript book as a medieval product despite its persistence into the modern era and despite its strangely modern visual content. The Armenian manuscript book remained medieval as a purely liturgical product that did not extend to secular genres or secular production. The Armenian manuscript book also remained medieval because of the long persistence of its distinctive materials and structural features.

Sylvie discusses Armenian Bookbinding features using the UI Armenian binding model made by Shanna Leino. Melissa Moreton, a graduate student in Medieval history and organizer for Merian's visit, looks on.
Sylvie discusses Armenian Bookbinding features using the UI Armenian binding model made by Shanna Leino. Melissa Moreton, a graduate student in Medieval history and organizer for Merian's visit, looks on.

Sylvie also provided a morning seminar session on Armenian bookbinding on October 13th. Ten workshop participants learned that the Armenian book has unique characteristics that are both hybrid and transitional to book traditions of other cultures. A  composite of reinforced chain stitching onto light cords which are seated in deep sewing kerfs, ornate and compound endbands and a tooled decoration including the vertical striation of the spine are some of the signature Armenian bookbinding features.

Below, left: Larry Yerkes and Gary Frost study an Armenian Manuscript with Sylvie.
Below, left: Larry Yerkes and Gary Frost study an Armenian Manuscript with Sylvie.

Sylvie L. Merian received her Ph.D. in Armenian Studies from Columbia University’s Department of Middle East Languages and Cultures in 1993. Her dissertation was titled “The Structure of Armenian Bookbinding and Its Relation to Near Eastern Bookmaking Traditions.” From 1993-94, she was Curatorial Assistant at the Pierpont Morgan Library, where she contributed extensively to the 1994 exhibition, “Treasures in Heaven: Armenian Illuminated Manuscripts”, and was a co-author of the accompanying catalogue. She has published and lectured on Armenian codicology and manuscript illumination, as well as the history of the book, and has curated small exhibitions on Armenian manuscripts and printed books. She is presently the Reference Librarian at the Pierpont Morgan Library.

New Minter Sonic Sealer Delivered to Conservation, November 12-13, 2003

Bill Minter has delivered and installed a new Ultrasonic Welder for polyester encapsulation at the University of Iowa Conservation department. His visit was remarkable. He had previously installed one of the earliest welders here in 1984 and he mentioned that it was unusual to be describing features of a new machine in terms of differences from the previous one.

Bill offers an in-depth history of Mylar.
Bill offers an in-depth history of Mylar.

The current OT-D4, #1147 at Iowa is the most recent of more than 160 installedmachines world wide. Bill provided many details of the history of his development of the Ultrasonic Welder and credited Sid Huttner, Head of Special Collections here at the University of Iowa, for his early encouragement. Of course, another prompt for Bill’s reminiscences was his work with Bill Anthony. Bill Minter was Bill Anthony’s first apprentice finishing his term in the late 1970s.

Bill demonstrates the Ultra-sonic welder
Bill demonstrates the Ultra-sonic welder

Bill Anthony subsequently came to the University of Iowa as its first Conservator, founding the Conservation lab here in 1984.During his stay here, Bill Minter attended and addressed the University of Iowa Bibliofiles and attended Lynn Amlie’s lecture on the production of the Oakdale papers used to underlay the Charters at the National Archives & Record Service. He also exchanged research findings on naturally aged paper stocks with another UI expert on the topic, Tim Barrett.