Corridor Collaboration: Preserving Cedar Rapids’ History

Flood1-1The flood of 2008 threatened to destroy many of Cedar Rapids’ treasured artifacts. Since then, the University of Iowa Libraries’ Conservation Lab treated over 7,500 items, 100 boxes of manuscripts, and 11,000 single sheets affected by the disaster.

On April 23 the UI Alumni Association will co-host a Lifelong Learning event at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library to celebrate the near-completion of the UI Libraries’ restoration efforts.

Find out how the UI Libraries partnered with National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and the African American Museum of Iowa to rescue the city’s valuable relics. Panelists will display and discuss the restored items while detailing how these organizations united to preserve these pieces of Cedar Rapids history.

Jeff Kueter – President and CEO, UIAA (moderator)
Dave Muhlena – Library Director, National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
Brianna Wright – Curator, African American Museum of Iowa
Nancy E. Kraft – Head, Preservation and Conservation, UI Libraries

WHEN: Thursday, April 23, 2015, 6:30 p.m. (reception), 7 p.m. (discussion)

WHERE: National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, Cedar Rapids, IA

The program is FREE and open to the public. Refreshments will be served and a cash bar will be available. Register by Tuesday, April 21, at:

UICB @ 25 Exhibit in Main Library

The new exhibition in the North Hall of the Main Library celebrates the 25th anniversary of the UI Center for the Book, UICB @ 25: The Future of a Legacy (

The UICB is a unique program that conjoins training in the technique and artistry of bookmaking with research into the history and culture of books. The first twenty-five years of the UICB reach back to the University’s distinctive programs in art practice at the graduate level, while looking forward to the new media world we find ourselves in today.

Trace the history of the UICB through the work of current and former students, faculty and staff. Remarkable works held in the Libraries Special Collections as well as beautiful pieces loaned from alumni bookartists. Learn about the disciplines studied in the UICB – papermaking, letterpress printing, calligraphy and book binding – and view the tools book artists use.

The exhibit is free and open to the public in the University of Iowa Main Library during regular library hours through the end of February.

What is the future of the print book? Mar 10 at 4 p.m.

What is the future of the print book in a context of its digital delivery? Wide redefinition is in progress in fields as diverse as neurology of reading, digital preservation, e-book marketing, and technology of print on demand.

Book Studies Forum
Wednesday, March 10 at 4-5:30 p.m.
Main Library Second Floor Conference Room (2032)

Discussion extends from standards and certification of print originals to blog rants on the death of the book, electronic format competitions and favorite reading devices. Over arching this dynamic is the canonic role of the physical book and its imprint on the future of cultural transmission.

A short introduction will be offered by Gary Frost which will include an outline of a proposed fall seminar on the future of the print book. Forum participants will be invited to survey issues and experience reading devices.

Osher Institute offers inside look at Libraries Conservation Lab – July 22

“The Inner Workings of the UI Libraries Conservation Lab” will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m., July 22, at the University of Iowa Main Library Conservation Lab.

The program is part of the “Wednesday Night at the Lab” series offered by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the UI. The course fee is $5 for Osher Institute members and $20 for non-members.

Attendees will observe the cleaning and repair of flood-damaged items from the African American Museum of Iowa, the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, and the Johnson County Historical Society. Each participant can experience the patience and skill required to be a conservator by stitching a pamphlet and making a protective enclosure.

Register online at, or contact Linsey Abbott at 319-384-4221 or for more information.

Kraft to Serve as State Disaster Preparedness Planning Co-Director

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-02) announced the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences awarded a grant of $40,000 to develop a statewide disaster preparedness and response plan for Iowa.

“Iowa is home to many unique cultural and historical treasures,” said Congressman Loebsack.  “I am pleased to announce funding that will establish an action plan that will work to save and protect artifacts in the event of another natural disaster, like the Floods of 2008.”

The grant funding will be used by the Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium in partnership with the State Historical Society of Iowa, the Iowa Museum Association, and the State Library of Iowa to marshal resources to act as first responders for cultural entities in the event of disaster. Nancy E. Kraft, University of Iowa Libraries Preservation Librarian, and Jerome Thompson, State Curator at the State Historical Society of Iowa, will serve as co-project directors.

“We learned during the Floods of 2008 that a rapid response can save a significant portion of a collection. This grant will help us put a plan in place so cultural institutions anywhere in Iowa can get prompt assistance during a disaster,” stated Nancy E. Kraft.

Specifically, the grant will fund surveys of institutional preparedness, knowledge of resources, geo-referencing location of cultural repositories, raising awareness of the need for disaster response plans, developing a strategy for establishing first responders, and developing applicable disaster response planning tools. This will ensure that in the event of an emergency situation, Iowa’s cultural entities are able to quickly respond and provide safe conditions for collections.

Conservation Lab Restores Artifacts from African American Museum of Iowa

The Conservation Laboratory at the University of Iowa Libraries has completed restoration of 23 flood-damaged artifacts from the African American Historical Museum and Cultural Center of Iowa in Cedar Rapids.

The media is invited to be the lab at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3, when Susan Kuecker, museum curator, comes to the Conservation Lab to accept the items, which will also be on view before packing up for safe return to the museum. Kuecker will be available to provide background information on the cleaned items.

The artifacts include a collection of buttons was from the Mason’s Dry Cleaners in Cedar Rapids owned by Elmer Smith, Jr., coins, baskets, gourds, feathered fans, and a mat woven by George Washington Carver.  

Nancy E. Kraft, head of preservation at UI Libraries, says her staff logged over 100 hours to clean the items, which were retrieved the week of June 16, 2008 after flood waters receded from the museum at 55 12th Ave. SE in Cedar Rapids. The length of time for cleaning each item ranged from 15 minutes to 35 hours, depending on the amount of damage and intricacy, Kraft said.

The return of the collection coincides with Black History Month, a popular time to visit the museum.

The Conservation Lab is also restoring flood-damaged collections from the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids and the Johnson County Historical Society.  For background on these efforts see