Print Shop and Bindery in Amana

An interpretive exhibit of history of communal book making includes a reconstruction of a printing and binding shop at Middle Amana. This site is opened from 10 to 4 on Saturdays.  

historical bookmaking tools
Interpretive display on view in Amana Printshop in Middle Amana.

The long and continuing Amana book publishing program aligns with a Protestant dedication to literacy, scriptural interpretation and individual spiritual experience. Book-making was accentuated among communal Inspirationists who believed in the classical mediation of aurality, orality, transcription, fair copy inscription, type composition, printing and binding to capture and “bring to light” spontaneous, entranced instruction of the Werkzueng. These spontaneous messages of spiritual guidance could only be shared by skilled transmission and skilled book making.  

Historical platen press with set type and printing equipment.
Historical platen press with type set up for printing in the Amana Printshop in Middle Amana.

Student participation in this interpretive program is invited. Contact Gary Frost for more information.

Printshop in Middle Amana.

Box Making Day

Friday, June 10, 2016

It was all hands on deck yesterday, as staff made boxes for the many items awaiting protective enclosures in the conservation lab. The boxes ranged from the simple 20-point card 4-flap wraps to the more complex, double-walled, fabric covered hinged box.

Four flaps in progressDouble walled box in progressMany four flaps ready to goA medium sized box in progressLittle boxes in progress

Assisting Artists After Hurricane Sandy

Friday, February 8, 2013

Kraft and artist examine a painting When we inspect an artist’s work, we also ask for the story of the piece to learn more about its history and composition. The pieces that this artist brought in were her final project before graduation where she used as pure a blue, red, and yellow that she could get. She had her art studio in the basement and did not have time to get these pieces out before Hurricane Sandy. (Other higher priority items were taken out.) Each piece was in a plastic bag so there was some protection. Since the basement was flooded, she took everything outside to start drying things out. However while she had everything outside drying, it rained and then the temperature dropped. By the time the entire “hurricane event” was over, her sewer backed up twice. Staying on top of things was difficult.

Although theses pieces show a lot of damage, they are important to her. She plans salvaging them the best she can. A volunteer conservator will clean the pieces for her and then she will work on them as she has time, using advice provided by a conservator.

Celebrate ALA Preservation Week: Learn about Disaster Preparedness

Thursday, April 21, 2011

FREE ALCTS webinar for Preservation Week!

On Tuesday, April 26, 2011, Nancy E Kraft, UI Libraries Preservation Librarian will present a webinar, “Accidents Happen: Protecting & Saving Family Treasures” at 2pm Eastern, 1pm Central, noon Mountain, and 11am Pacific Time. It’s an hour in length.

Accidents and disasters happen. When it does are you prepared? Are your family treasures stored safely in your home or elsewhere? How do you save your photos when they’ve been submerged in flood water? What do you do if your books smell mildewy? What if your basement floods or worse? Kraft will provide tips and tools for checking out possible hazards around the house, dealing with mold and salvaging keepsakes, documenting damage for insurance purposes, and keeping your family safe.

These webinars are developed for the general audience. You could show them as a program at your institution. Past webinars are freely-accessible to the public.

This is a complimentary webinar presented as part of the Preservation Week events. To view a recording of the webinar, go to For all other questions or comments related to the webinars, contact Julie Reese, ALCTS Events Manager at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5034 or

Posted on behalf of the ALCTS Continuing Education Committee.

A Big Box for a Big Book

Say you have a really big book and need to house it in a box.  How can you get a two foot thick book in and out of a lidded box?

Answer:  a tailgate

This double walled box with lid and tailgate (side flap) was made by Conservation Assistant and boxmaker extraordinaire Linda Lundy.  It is constructed two layers of 100 pt. board and covered with maroon buckram.  It is quite sturdy and allows the user to get the book in and out without difficulty.

10,000 page book bound at Conservation Lab

In Celebration of Iowa City being named a “City of Literature” by UNESCO,   Dr. Alphabet (Dave Morice) sponsored by Sackter House Media has completed his largest, longest, world-record breaking poetry marathon by creating a 100 volume work of 10,000 pages in 100 days.

The marathon was a highlight of a four-month exhibit at the University of Iowa Main Library honoring the history of the University of Iowa Writers Workshop and the Actualist Poetry Movement.  The full text is available online at

The final text of 10,119 pages was printed out by Bu Wilson and bound by Bill Voss of the UI Library Preservation Dept.  The binding measures 8 1/2 x 11 x 24 inches and is possibly the thickest single volume book ever bound.

Poetry City Mararthon

Exciting forum at ALA Annual

The forum Strategic Future of Print Collections attracted over 300 librarians. The forum was produced by Debbie Noland, Library Binding Institute, and Gary Frost, University of Iowa, and was sponsored by the Preservation and Reformatting  sub group and the Rare Books and Manuscripts sub group of the American Library Association. The program featured three presentations offering three perspectives on print delivery in a context of digital technologies.

Walt Crawford, commentator on role of libraries in society, offered an overview of the current dynamic use of print and screen resources in research libraries. He suggested that libraries promote “inclusionary” or “multiplatform” reading that combines use of print and screen resources. He also projects such interplay into the future; “We don’t know how interdependence (of print and screen) will play out – but can guess that all-digital is an inherently unlikely future except as an ideological assertion.”

Shannon Zachary, preservation librarian at the University of Michigan, described the intensive interaction of print and screen resources caused by Google Print reformatting. This processing has features of selection and de-selection that indicates a continuing role for print in a context of digital delivery. While Google reformatting of print books exponentially improves access there is more conflicted appraisal of the preservation implications. As with microfilm conversion, digital conversion progresses in context with a continuing role for print.

Doug Nishimura, senior researcher at IPI, continued a theme of interplay between print and digital technologies. He discussed how print on demand books enabled by digital sources and electrostatic printing promises to project the role of print far into the future. Research at the Image Permanence Institute is assessing the digital printing technologies and evolving diagnostic tools for performance and permanence of print on demand books.

The program proved very cohesive and conveyed a consensus across the wide perspectives presented. This consensus was that there is a digital future for print in libraries collections as both screen access, digital book manufacturing technologies and print reading all invigorate the future of books. A lively discussion concluded the forum and follow-up materials and bibliography will be available at an LBI web portal.

Rare Book Exhibit Completed in Peru

A University of Iowa Library Preservation team Gary Frost, Conservator, Joyce Miller, project support and technician and Bill Voss, Exhibit Conservator, has completed a project to prepare and install a 26 case comprehensive exhibit of the treasures of the Library of the Convent of the Recoleta in Arequipa Peru. The two week project (May 26 to June 5) was completed on-site with materials supplied by Archival Products and the UI Libraries.

exhibit cases

This education exhibit depicts the amazing story of historical libraries in this highland colonial city. These books introduced European learning into equally complex indigenous culture and so advanced dynamics of empire still in motion in the Americas. The library of the Recoleta contains 22,000 volumes spanning the 16th to 19th centuries and is rich in linguistics, history, sciences, arts and literature, religious doctrine and scripture, and philosophy. The library was founded in 1661. It features early Peruvian imprints including unique copies.

Fabulous voyages were required to bring European books to Peru. Outward voyages went southward to the Canary Islands where the westward winds were encountered. A long Atlantic crossing brought the cargo to Hispaniola in the Caribbean. Another voyage across pirate waters came finally to land at the isthmus of Panama. This overland crossing of swamp and mountains was no less difficult than the previous sailings. On the Pacific coast newly constructed ships began the long voyage down to Lima. Finally, books destine for Arequipa still required the long desolate crossing of the vast inland desert before the books reached the start of the highlands.

gary and guests in the workshop

The Library was used by a Franciscan Order with missions to many colonial communities. Here readers prepared their minds for great dramas of contact between cultures and great challenges of interaction. For the Padres the library is not just books but it is also a state of mind. UI Staff members enjoyed this exotic excursion into a different book culture. The UI team was honored at a spectacular opening reception given at the historical Cloister.