Iowa Collections Emergency Response Team Training

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Selecting tools for trunk kitYesterday twenty-five individuals from around Iowa gathered at the Camp Dodge Gold Star Military Museum in Johnston to begin training as a member of the Iowa Collections Emergency Response Team (Iowa CERT). Many of Iowa’s documentary collections are scattered in museums and libraries throughout the state. These diverse collections together form an invaluable statewide historical resource. Small institutions in particular often do not have the staff or financial capacity to respond appropriately when the collections are threatened. This training will build a network of experts throughout the state who can respond quickly to emergencies of different sizes and types. The assembled team is comprised of geographically-distributed staff from libraries, museums, archives, and other collecting institutions. The training is partially funded by an Historical Resource Development Program grant awarded to the Iowa Preservation and Conservation Consortium (ICPC). Training is coordinated by the University of Iowa Libraries staff, Nancy E Kraft, Brenna Campbell, and Elizabeth Stone.

First day of training concentrated on learning how to organize, plan, and respond to disaster. Each team member received a trunk tool kit with basic tools for responding to a disaster – hammers, screw drivers, pliers, caution tape, etc.

UI Libraries receives Carver grant to renovate exhibition space

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Exhibit Hall 1960In April, the University of Iowa Libraries was awarded $500,000 by the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust in support of the renovation of the Main Library Exhibition Space. Very exciting news!

Our current space was constructed in 1951 and has not changed much since then. Over the years, using the space as an exhibit became more and more challenging. Plus it was a space that people walked through to get from one side of the building to the other making it very difficult to engage anyone in an exhibit.

Due to the Learning Commons project which was completed in 2013, the current exhibition space is now a self-contained area. Anticipating the exhibition possibilities that the Exhibit Hall 2014 ConceptLearning Commons renovation would open up, we began working with consultant Liz Kadera on a gallery and exhibition space presentation. We were delighted that our new Library Director John Culshaw liked our concept drawings and pulled a team together to draft a proposal to present to the Carver Trust.

The renovation will create a more suitable and secure space dedicated to displaying books, manuscripts, maps, documents, artworks, and more from the Libraries collections.

Construction is planned to begin this fall with a proposed completion date of spring 2015.

First image courtesy of the UI Archives, 1960. Second image courtesy Liz Kadera, 2013.

UI Conservator Emeritus Gary Frost to participate in library and archives conservation program.









The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a generous grant to the Art Conservation Department at Buffalo State College. This funding will provide expanded development of Library and Archives Conservation training.

Frost will provide student instruction and advisement in the expanded program. He will travel to Buffalo twice a semester and provide a summer course in historical book structures. Students will have an opportunity for internships and exchange with the University of Iowa Libraries Conservation and Preservation department.

Frost continues to volunteer at the University of Iowa Libraries and also welcomes UICB/SLIS applicants within the American Institute for Conservation Mentor Program.

The Wunderkammer at Grinnell: Supporting Foldouts

Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Submitted by Brenna Campbell

Fold out_blogMany of the books in the Wunderkammer show at Grinnell had elaborate foldout illustrations, which required custom supports. These were typically made separately from the cradle, and were often strapped into place once the book was in its display case. It was important to strap the book so that the illustration was easy to see, but also to allow the book to open naturally, without putting strain on the binding.

The show opened on October 4th, and will remain up through December 15th. More details can be found here:

The Wunderkammer at Grinnell: Making Custom Cradles

Friday, November 1, 2013
Submitted by Brenna Campbell

Book Before Cradle_blog

Making the cradle_blog

Book After Strapping_blog

After all 93 items for the Wunderkammer show were unpacked and condition checked, they were prepared for exhibition. The most time consuming part of the process was constructing custom mounts for the 76 books being displayed. Bill and Brenna used a polyester sheet material called Vivak®, which was scored and bent to form the necessary shapes. Once the books were positioned on their cradles, they were secured into place using polyethylene straps.

The show opened on October 4th, and will remain up through December 15th. More details can be found here:

The Wunderkammer at Grinnell: Unpacking and Condition Checking

Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Submitted by Brenna Campbell

Condition Checking Tiny BookConservation Technician Bill Voss and Assistant Conservator Brenna Campbell recently returned from a trip to Grinnell College’s Faulconer Gallery, where they spent seven days installing the exhibition “From Wunderkammer to the Modern Museum, 1606-1884”. Ninety three items from the collection of Florence Fearrington were unpacked, checked for condition problems, and installed.

As each book was removed from its crate and unwrapped, Brenna examined it for signs of damage. Damage to a book includes a range of conditions, such as wear to the binding, weak or broken joints, failed sewing, tears, and stains. Any problems were noted, along with a brief description of the binding. This process provided a record of the condition of each book when it arrived at the gallery, and also highlighted items requiring special handling or care.

One particularly vulnerable group of bindings were those bound in parchment. Parchment is made from stretched and scraped animal skin, and is very reactive to changes in temperature and relative humidity. Because of their sensitivity, these bindings were gradually conditioned to the climate in the gallery before installation.

The show opened on October 4th, and will remain up through December 15th. More details can be found here:

Tool Making for Conservation and Book Arts

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Raw materials -- elk bone & needles -- (left) shaped into bone folders (right)
Raw materials — elk bone & needles — (left) shaped into bone folders (right)
Last month Conservation Technician Bill Voss served as a Studio Assistant to instructor Shanna Leino, during a two week class at the Penland School of Crafts on Tool Making for Book Arts. Shanna is a well known tool maker and alumna of the UI Center for the Book, whose tools and binding models are featured in the Model Bookbinding Collection housed in the Conservation Lab. Projects covered during the class included making bone folders, awls, punches, leather pairing knives and bamboo tools.
Awl and punch using Ipe wood, steel rod, brass tube
Awl and punch using Ipe wood, steel rod, brass tube
Leather pairing knives from hacksaw blades
Leather pairing knives from hacksaw blades
Heras -- Japanese paper mending tools from bamboo (left)
Heras — Japanese paper mending tools from bamboo (left)
Tweezers from bamboo
Tweezers from bamboo

Columbia Hand Press

Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Submitted by Jessica Rogers

Columbia Press Outside Special CollectionsWe moved our Columbian hand press from the first floor of the library to the third floor, in front of Special Collections, to make more room for the Learning Commons. If you have not yet had a chance to see it, please, stop by and gaze in wonder at the remarkable craftsmanship and beauty of this historic hand press. As your eyes drift over the various decorations and counter-weights of this cast iron behemoth, take a moment to think to yourself “man, I bet this thing is really, really, really, heavy.” And it is.

Our particular Columbian was cast in 1843 at 120 Aldersgate Street, London, as stated on the brass plate which is mounted at the top of the structure. There is no indication as to when it was shipped to the U.S., where it was used, or when it arrived at the University of Iowa. It is roughly seven feet high and four feet wide (when the press bed is out) and made primarily from cast iron. Cherry Picker In Position to Move the PressHappy CrewAlthough no exact weight of the machine could be found it has been firmly established that the press is very, very heavy. Moving the press from the first to third floor took five men and a cherry-picker, a tool that is used in auto shops to lift car engines. After nearly four hours (and one almost-broken toe) the Columbian was at last settled in its new home.

The Columbian press was invented in 1813 by George Clymer, an American mechanic in Philadelphia. Sadly, Columbian presses were not as popular in the U.S. as they were overseas and Clymer moved his business across the pond where the machines proved more popular. Despite American printers rejection of his press, Clymer continued to decorate the Columbian (the name itself a tribute to Clymer’s beloved America) in patriotic symbols. In fact, Columbian presses can be most easily identified by the bald Eagle counter-weight at the top of the press. To date, there are no remaining American made Columbians and any Columbians located in the U.S. were made abroad and shipped back to American printers.Counter Balance with Eagle

ICPC Save Our Stuff! Conference

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Lynn Koos presenting Do's and Don'ts of Digitization
Lynn Koos presenting do’s and don’ts of digitization
This year’s annual Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium’s Save Our Stuff! conference was held in Mason City, Iowa, Friday, June 7. SOS! is a time to get together and share successes, current projects, and creative solutions and to be reminded that no matter the size of collection or institution we have the same challenges and can learn from each other.

This year we had sessions on the restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Park Inn, dealing with mini disasters, risks and solutions for dealing with historic scrapbooks, flattening and storing architectural drawings, do’s and don’ts of digitization, restoring a greenhouse, re-housing puppets and marionettes, and preservation practices for managing storage environments.

ICPC is the only Iowa organization where staff from museums, libraries, archives, historical societies, county records, and other collection organizations work together to find solutions to preservation issues/concerns. SOS!is a great way to network and form alliances that can assist with our daily preservation challenges.

Grace Linden demonstrating creating a humidity chamber
Grace Linden demonstrating creating a humidity chamber
One example of scapbook challenges
One example of scapbook challenges

Respirator Fit Testing

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Putting the respirator onLast week I attended the American Institute for Conservation annual meeting. To keep up with my disaster response training, I went to all the sessions of particular interest to AIC-CERT (Collections Emergency Response Team) members. One session was on respirator fitness testing, including the actual fitness test. Before we could take the fitness test, we had to turn in a signed doctor’s statement of fitness. We reviewed how to put the mask on (chin in first) and clean it and then tested for a secure fit. As you can see, a bag is put over your head and then a scent is squirted into the bag. If you do not smell anything after you’ve moved your head from side to side, up and down, and read a statement, then you have a good fit. I’m happy to report that I past my test. Getting respirator fitness tested

We also a reviewed several brands and styles of disposable N95 particulate respirators that can be purchased at a local drugstore or online. The important thing is to make sure that the disposable respirator is rated N95 or higher. The N95 mask will provide you protection during limited exposure to molds, dust and other airborne particulates (not oil). As always you should consult with your doctor before using any type of respirator and follow whatever protocol has been established for your work area.Variety of disposal respirators

This, my very first AIC annual meeting, was a wonderful learning experience. I was able to attend thanks to a partial scholarship from the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.