At the end of last semester, the University of Iowa Staff Council recognized Linda Lundy with a Longevity Award for her 35 years of continuous service.
Linda began her UI career working in the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Later, she accepted a position in the Government Publications department of the UI Libraries. When that department closed, she transitioned to the Preservation & Conservation Department. Gary Frost, Conservator at the time, taught Linda how to make custom protective boxes and enclosures.
During her career in the Preservation & Conservation Department, Linda has made more almost 6,600 boxes and other custom enclosures for collection materials. She also sews book futons, padded cradles used to support fragile books. One of Linda’s favorite projects was creating a cover for the University’s 1903 commencement podium (pictured at right).
“We are so lucky to have Linda in the Conservation Lab,” said Conservator Giselle Simón, Linda’s supervisor. “She not only makes our custom boxes, but thank goodness she’s a great sewer! If you happen to call a book in any of our special collection reading rooms (Art, Hardin, Special Collections, IWA, Music…) you’ll see her handiwork in every book “futon” cradle that supports what you are reading. Also, in this month of February, it goes without saying that the person with the biggest heart here is Linda. She is always looking out for her fellow Lab folk. Thank you, Linda!”
Congratulations Linda, we appreciate your continued service!
As the University of Iowa community, especially the student population, returns to work, after the holidays we are reminded of the pivotal role students are in fulfilling the University’s mission. We here at the University of Iowa Libraries’ Preservation and Conservation Department are no different, and frankly we really missed our student workers over Winter Break. With our collected sigh of relief to see our diligent student employees coming back, we are extremely pleased that the Conservation Lab’s Dong Dong is the recipient of the Graduate Student Employee Academic Enrichment Award! To have yet another student employee win an award is great honor to the department and a true testament to the strength of our students. It comes with great pleasure to congratulate Dong on her scholarship and on this momentous occasion we also wanted to help people get know her, what she does in the Conservation Lab, and appreciate all this fantastic student has to offer us, the library, and the University of Iowa community as a whole.
Describing Dong’s work, Conservator Giselle Simon said, “She started as Assistant in Book Repair with Julie Smith in 2017. (Time flies!). She’s currently completing her MFA at UICB and is focusing on an artist book project for her thesis. She has an affinity for conservation work, its focus and attention to detail. She naturally understands the materials we use in treatment and these things crossover into her artist book work. Dong works mostly on Special Collections materials, which could include complex repair treatments on book structures and substrate (paper or text block), cleaning and constructing enclosures (custom box-making). She is currently working on the Smith Miniature Collection, so is having to do these kinds of repairs on a much smaller scale.”
We were able to ask Dong some questions and she was only too happy to oblige with some thoughtful answers…
What is your graduate program of study?
Center for the Book.
Where and when did you graduate from college?
I graduated in 2012 from Guangdong University of Finance in Guangzhou, China.
What did you major in?
I majored in Chinese Literature (media studies track).
Why did you choose to pursue an advanced degree in your chosen field?
I did my MA in mass communications in England. Being an international student who was interested in Western cultures, one of the most intriguing subjects to me was cultural hybridization. After graduation I worked as an editor for a cultural magazine, and got very curious about the materiality of the book. When I found that there is a program that studies not only the materiality of the book, but also the making of it, and using the book as a medium of creative expression, I thought it would be the bridge that ties my interests together, so I decided to study book arts at the University of Iowa Center for the Book.
How did you come to your position in the conservation lab?
I learned about book conservation in the Book Arts program. And I applied for the position as a student assistant in the book repair unit and worked there for a year. I learned so much working with circulating books and materials, which afforded me clarity to my professional goals to work as a book conservator. So I applied immediately when I learned that there was an opening for student technician in the conservation lab.
What has surprised you the most about working at the library?
It surprised me how accommodating it is to work as a student employee in a library. For example, the conservator and the staff in the conservation lab are always open to teach students new treatment methods, they also encourage us to practice and experiment. It is not just about working, but also about learning. I also find the library to be very accommodating to people who visit the library. The conservation lab often assists students and classes from different departments for book related researches, we also show visitors how the lab works, therefore building a community that loves and values the book.
What is the most interesting or weird thing you have come across?
Last semester I made an enclosure for a movable atlas from 1874 by G.J. Witkowski that shows the structure and functions of the brain, the cerebellum, and medulla oblongata. The movable parts are very intricate and well crafted. It was so fun to discover layers after layers and look into the brain through a drawing from the 19th century.
How do you think working in the conservation lab will impact your future?
Working in the book repair unit then in the conservation lab allowed me to gain hands-on experience and to hone my craftsmanship as a bookbinder; it also expanded my exposure to both circulating and non-circulating books and materials. I learned not only technical repairing skills, but also how to make treatment decisions regarding different materials, and how to work with people from small to large projects. These are important skills that I could carry to the professional world as I work my way to be a book conservator.
When you are not at work or class what are you most likely to be doing?
I am trying to get better at photography recently, so I bring my camera with me everywhere and look for interesting things to photograph. I also like to go out for walks and hikes. But most days I enjoy staying home alone reading or watching movies.
What was the last movie you saw?
I saw The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on a plane and it was a nice way to start a trip.
Since you work at a library here’s your obligatory book question: what are your 5 desert island books?
I would bring One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, Last Evenings on Earth by Roberto Bolaño, The End (尽头) by Tang Nuo (唐诺)(I read all of his books repeatedly, too bad there’s no English versions), Legend of a Suicide by David Vann, and Primeval and Other Times by Olga Tokarczuk.
The Preservation and Conservation Department are delighted to congratulate Dong with her momentous achievement, and we eagerly anticipate seeing what this gifted student does in the future. With that, her supervisor Giselle can have the last word, “Dong’s just a delight to have in the lab. She has a generous spirit and she laughs at all my jokes!”
With winter break around the bend, campus wide student employee supervisors contemplate how to cope with the dramatic drop off of help to be had over the holidays. This poses unique challenges, but most of all it makes us appreciate student employees that much more. Here in Preservation/Conservation at the University of Iowa Libraries students are an essential part of our workforce and help out tremendously from the tiniest details up to large projects and day to day operations. Due to this fact, as a department we could not be happier that one of our own is the recipient of the Bentz Student Employment Scholarship, Katelyn Foster!
On the occasion of winning the scholarship we decided we wanted to ask Katelyn some questions so other could get to know our awesome student. Here’s how it went…
Q. What is your major?
A. I am a psychology major.
Q. What year in school are you?
A. This is my senior year here at Iowa.
Q. Where and when did you graduate high school?
A. I graduated from Urbandale High School in Urbandale, IA in 2016.
Q. Why did you choose to work at the library?
A. I wanted a job on campus to get a little more involved in the University community and I liked the idea of working semi-independently in a calmer setting.
Q. What has surprised you the most about working at the library?
A. I think the variety of the projects surprised me the most, while some day to day things never change, I’m definitely not doing the exact same thing every single day and I like that! Also, the people I get to work with are all awesome. I wouldn’t say that was a surprise necessarily, but it’s a wonderful thing to like the people you work with!
Q. What is the most interesting or weird thing you have come across?
A. I think the most interesting things I have come across were from when I was collating dissertations, the topics, titles, and photographs definitely surprised me more than once!
Something else that I thought was really fun was we came across a photography book that was literally just pictures of dogs underwater. Imagine it, a book completely filled with dogs swimming/playing underwater, I think it might be my favorite book I’ve ever ran across.
Q. How do you think working at the library will impact your future?
A. I think working at the library has helped me to improve my skills involving paying attention to detail, communication, and leadership, which are useful skills in any type of job or position and also just in everyday life!
Q. When you are not at work or class what are you most likely to be doing?
A. When I’m not at work or class I’m either doing work for a psychology lab here on campus, volunteering at the senior center, doing homework, or hanging out with my friends!
Q. What was the last movie you saw?
A. The last movie I saw in theaters was Bohemian Rhapsody, I highly recommend it!
Q. Since you work at a library here’s your obligatory book question: what are your 5 desert island books?
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (can the whole series count as one book?)
And Then There Were None
Flowers in the Attic
Pride and Prejudice
Gone with the Wind
We are all happy for Katelyn and can’t wait to see what else she’ll achieve. Of all the people in our department who are proud of Katelyn, her supervisor Shelby Strommer is undoubtedly the most proud. Shelby had this to say, “Katelyn holds herself to unwavering high standards, and clearly takes sincere pride in the accuracy and quality of her work. Katelyn is also an excellent leader, and takes time to teach and correct other students in a constructive and supportive way. I can’t count how many times I have found myself saying ‘I don’t know how we would have made it through this [day, week, project, batch of new students, etc.] without Katelyn!’ She a valuable part of our department, and I’m so glad her hard work has been recognized with this scholarship.”
We are so pleased to announce that our own Nancy Kraft, Head of Preservation, has been awarded the Paul Banks and Carolyn Harris Award for excellence in Library Preservation for 2018. The award was established to honor the memory of Paul Banks and Carolyn Harris, early leaders in library preservation and is given to a professional preservation specialist who has made great contributions to the field of preservation and conservation for library and archival materials. Nancy is recognized for her tireless work with the 2008 Flood Recovery, establishment of local and regional disaster teams and protocols, contributions to national disaster recovery efforts, and many more numerous achievements that have promoted preservation ideals throughout the library and archives world.
One the highest accolades a preservation professional can receive, Nancy will accept her award at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA on June 23rd. Congratulations, Nancy!