As Project Conservator at the UI Libraries, I am tasked with several workflows that are slightly outside of the regular Libraries Lab flow. One being conservation of the Keith Albee Vaudeville Theater Scrapbooks (see more here and here), another being treatment of Linn County Recorder’s Office record books.
Nearly 430 Linn County record books have been surveyed for treatment, and after just over a year, we have worked through approximately 115 of them, getting the books back into use at the County Recorder’s Office. As you will see in the photos below, their office faced a catastrophic disaster in the floods of 2008. Eight years later, recovery work is ongoing.
In the UI Libraries’ conservation lab, we remove books from damaged covers, dry clean textblocks, separate adhered pages, humidify and flatten warped pages, and even wash pages of the record books in preparation for rebinding at a commercial bindery. Each book in this large collection is unique and requires different types of treatment. We evaluate each book prior to starting treatment to determine the needs of each item.
June 11, 2008: Vault Room at the Linn County Recorder’s Office 1 hr before closing time (photo: Joan McCalmant)
June 14, 2008 taken from same perspective as above, after flooding, prior to clean-up (photo: Joan McCalmant)
Instilling some order… (photo: Joan McCalmant)
Moldy books, already dry, were hosed down and wiped off (photo: Joan McCalmant)
FAST FORWARD 8 Years: Joan McCalmant, Linn County Recorder, stands with record books, many of which have undergone conservation treatment at the University of Iowa Libraries, currently in use at the Linn County Recorder’s Office, on the 2nd Floor.
Graduate student, Lindsey Blair, dry cleans, and works on page separation.
Before treatment image of a sewn volume. Notice the warped spine and pages and caked mud on pages.
A mud-caked page during stages of washing (Do not try this at home!)
Loose pages in a humidification chamber where paper fibers soften and relax. Pages are dried flat, under weight, before being rebound. (Do not try this at home!)
The warped, mud-caked textblock from above, split into two volumes, rebound at the commercial bindery after cleaning and flattening in the UI Libraries’ conservation lab.