Busy Summer

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Change was a foot this summer in the UI Libraries Conservation Lab.  We started the summer by starting to pack up our lab space in preparation for our move to the 5thfloor of the library.  It was a long, sometimes sad process but we knew that moving to a new clean space would be worth it.

Old Conservation Lab
Old Conservation Lab










Saying goodbye to our old space turned out not to be that hard when we were finally able to see our new space on the 5th floor.  It is clean and bright and we were able to lay out the space in a very cohesive manner.

Model Collection
Model Collection




My favorite spot in the new lab is the model collection and meeting area.  There is a great table to sit at with the entire conservation model collection at your fingertips!


If you are interested in seeing the new space stop on up to the 5th floor and follow the signs.

Visiting the Vietnam National Archives Center IV

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dr. Hue with interpreter showing mended document
Today we visited the National Archives Center IV in Dalat, Vietnam. This visit was in sharp contrast to our visit to the Vietnam Institute of Oceanography. Our visit with the VNIO was quite causal and informal. Today’s meeting was very formal, complete with speeches, a gift, and several photo sessions. Linda Pikula and I were greeted by Ms. Pham Thi Hue and her interpreter, Ms. Le Thi Lan.

After giving a brief history of the archives and an explanation of preservation methods, we were given a tour of the archives. All was quite modern with excellent shelving, smoke alarms, and fire suppresant system. One interesting thing of note is that they run the fans for the air-conditioning system but not the cooling. Temperature is kept at 21 degrees Celsius or 70 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity is around 60-70%.

Their documents are repaired by lining the pages with handmade paper and attaching the paper with cacboxyl methyl cellulose glue. In addtion to their documentary collection, they also have a large woodblock collection of the Nguyen dynasty. Just think — the characters needed to be carved in the reverse in order to print on paper. The wood block below illustrates a title page.

Wood carving showing title pageMended document showning the handmade paper backing where original is missing

Visiting Vietnam Institute of Oceanography Library

Monday, February 13, 2012

Preservation team standing outside the Vietnam Institute of Oceanography
Preservation team

Linda Pikula and I met with Yen and Van to discuss preservation and possible digitization of select portions of their library collection at the Vietnamese Institute of Oceanography Library. The biggest challenge is that the library is quite close to the ocean where ships dock. These ships bring in a lot of dust and pollutants which end up on the books. Airconditioning is too expensive and the heat and humidity is a challenge. Humidity ranges from 50-85% and temperature ranges from 70-108F degrees. To keep the area reasonably cooled they keep the windows open (when it’s not raining!). The windows are across from each other so they do get a good cross breeze.

The good news is that I saw no evidence of mold (fungi). But we do want to reduce risk of mold and insect damage. First simple solution that comes to mind is to install ceiling fans that can be kept running during the day to help keep good air circulation and to cover the windows with a sheer curtain to cut down on pollutants and dust while still allowing good air circulation. I was assured that these two suggestions are within their budget.

Our trip is sponsored by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (UNESCO, IOC) and their OceanTeacher Program.

Illustration of type of sheer curtain material to use for window treatment
Illustration of sheer curtain material that could be used for window treatment
Window in library showing good cross aircirculation
Window in library

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.

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.

Blue Boxes

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Volunteer measuring blue corrugated board to make a boxVolunteer with blue boxes completed and one in progress

One of our volunteers has taken on the project of building custom boxes for objects to be returned to the African American Museum in November. Beth has been teaching Kallie Holt how to make boxes from the sturdy blue corrugated board we use routinely in the conservation lab.  In addition to making them easily transportable the boxes will be good for long term storage for these artifacts.

One of the advantages of our close communication with the curators is the ability to have us prioritize items. Susan Kuecker of the African American Museum is opening an exhibit in November and sent us a list of objects she needed so we could re-arrange our workflow. These are the objects that Kallie is re-boxing.  We hope to have a majority of the items from the African American Museum treated, boxed, and ready to go by December.

Majestic troublemakers

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Three volcanoes overlook the city of Arequipa. Arequipa is known as ¨La Ciudad Blanca¨ or The White City, because of Sillar, the white volcanic rock that many of the buildings are constructed of. Another less desirable byproduct of the volcanoes is a fine glassy dust carried by the wind to settle in a fine layer over everything, including books. The dust is so fine it permeates even the smallest of openings. Many of the books are centuries old and have accumulated centuries of dust. One of the ongoing projects here in Arequipa is to clean and remove the books from the San Francisco Monastery. The Books are housed in a condemned building. Pictures of the library are unavailable at the moment but will be added later. You´ll just have to settle for the volcanoes which really are majestic troublemakers. Picchu Picchu is trying to hide beneath the cloud bank, but it´s there.



Picchu Picchu

More Wet Books

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Art Librarian called early this morning informing us that a pipe had burst, soaking the oversize art book collection. The good news was that they had caught the water break early and that it was clean water. The bad news was that a majority of the books had clay-coated pages (glossy like a magazine) and if they dried before we could separate the pages the books would become bricks –never to be opened again. We estimated that about 2,400 books were wet.

We were over with an assessment team by 9:15 AM. Staff arrived shortly after that with needed supplies and the work began. We began pulling books out and setting them up for air drying. It didn’t take long to figure out that we would not be able to air dry all the wet books.

The Art Librarian, Rijn Templeton, selected the most valuable books for us to air dry while I called in a freezer truck and supplies to box up the remainder of the books. We sent out a call for volunteers to assist. Help poured in all day (excuse the pun). By 3:45 PM we had 165 volumes dried, 296 still air drying, and around 1,800 volumes packed in boxes and on the freezer truck. Special kudos to Kim Carpenter, Art Library Assistant, for acting quickly when he discovered the leak.

Protective Boxes for Art Books

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

In 2007, School of Library and Information Science Preservation students Laura Guth, Sally Myers, and Kris Wiley prepared a preservation plan for the oversize collection of about 550 books at the University of Iowa Art Library. The plan called for sending a small number of items to Book Repair each week. In addition to any repair work, those items needing additional support and protection were to be sent on to the Conservation Lab. We implemented this plan late 2007.

Since making boxes of this size is hard on the hands and elbows, Linda Lundy makes only 1-2 a week. This means that we make slow but steady progress on this project. LInda has constructed 76 boxes so far.

Even though the Art Library is closed due to damage to the building during the June floods, staff are still retrieving for patron use. During these trips to the Art Library, items from the oversized area are pulled and forwarded to preservation. One piece sent over was: fNA280.W54 Atlas, Die Archaische Poros-Architekure der Akropolis zu Athen. The piece measured 17 3/8” wide by 23 ½” long. By the time the box was made, it measured 18 3/8” wide by 25” long. The preservation box enclosure will protect the piece from further damage by light, moisture and dust and will keep the piece sitting straight on the shelf.