Special Collections has asked us to work on the scrapbooks from the ISU Theatre Department. The scrapbooks suffer from all the common ills of scrapbooks.

The support pages in many of the volumes have become so brittle that they have started to break away from the bindings. In most cases I have been able to disbind the volume so that future viewers will not be horrified that they ripped a page from the scrapbook just by turning it gently.

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There is massive adhesive failure. When possible I have re-attached things back where they belong, but some things are a mystery so they get encapsulated and left between the pages where I found them.

Adhesive

The adhesive failure is so serious that I know that more things will fall off the next time the books are opened. As a partial solution, I’m making a four-flap for each book to keep everything as contained as possible and to minimize abrasion since multiple scrapbooks are often stored together in a box.

Fourflap

I could spend weeks on each scrapbook, but there are many of them and just one of me. And quite frankly given the condition of the supporting pages and many of the contents, it is not worth the time or effort to do a full treatment on these. In the near future, they will need to be  taken apart and put in folders.

Here is the perplexing thing. I’ve come across several pages with what we are calling “googly eyes.” The markings are in blue editor’s pencil.

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I’m pretty sure that the clippings came from a clipping service. Can anyone confirm that? And does anyone know what is it with the circles? They don’t appear to be around anything specific.

 

 

 

 

 

Through a generous grant from the Silos & Smokestacks Agricultural Heritage Internship Grant Program, the Special Collections and Preservation Departments of the Iowa State University Library are offering a summer internship. The Silos & Smokestacks Agricultural Heritage Internship is a full-time, 10-week project position to develop a digital collection on Iowa State’s early Extension movement and create content for an interpretive website.  We will be accepting applications through Friday, April 18th.  For more information, please visit the internship website:

http://www.add.lib.iastate.edu/spcl/about/news_items/internship.html

After a few years of talking about purchasing some remote data loggers, I think this is the year we actually will. Currently, we are using Smart Reader2 data loggers, which I physically collect quarterly (or more frequently, if we notice a big change in data). We monitor temperature and relative humidity by collecting the information on each data logger using the TrendReader 2 software from ACR Systems, and then transferring the file into eClimate Notebook. Our data loggers are in various locations here in the library as well as our library storage building located across campus.
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We see moving to remote data loggers as a way to save a little bit of time. I wouldn’t have to physically collect the data loggers from each location every time we want to download the data. I really don’t mind going to retrieve each data logger, but it would be nice when we just want to do a quick check to have the ability to check the data loggers from our work or home computers.

One of our main requirements is that whatever remote data logger type we choose will have to work with eClimatenotebook. I am looking for any input you all may have on what has worked well for you or what hasn’t. Is there a particular data logger you like? And why? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

1091map1This month’s 1091 Project addresses that bane of every library and archives conservator: mold. Whether the mold is black, white, green, magenta, or yellow, it is all treated the same way: with caution and immediate action. The mold that we deal with in the lab comes from three main sources:

  1. newly acquired items for Special Collections and Archives which are valued highly enough to make dealing with mold worth the trouble;
  2. items returning from circulation which were not cared for properly by the borrowing patrons;
  3. mold outbreaks in the collection, which could be caused by a leaky roof or water pipe, or extreme humidity in situations when the HVAC breaks down.
Aspergillus

Asexual fruiting structure of Aspergillus. http://www.atsu.edu/faculty/chamberlain/Website/Lects/Fungi.htm

The “sniff test” is a pretty reliable indicator of mold, but technician Mindy Moe rightly scolds me whenever she sees me lifting a suspect book to my nose. Mold spores, even if dormant, find the warm, moist environment of human nasal passages and lungs to be a cozy place to take up residence. Repeated exposure to mold can also lead to sensitivities and allergies which, in the most extreme cases, can induce life-threatening allergic reactions. So, we always take a little extra precaution when dealing with the fuzzy stuff. Mold can be identified by a visual inspection under magnification, especially under raking light. If a visual examination is inconclusive because the spores are in a dormant phase, or the spot is a residual stain, then the presence of mold can be confirmed by examining the item under UV light, which causes mold hyphae to fluoresce rather dramatically.

MoldFluorescingUnderUVlight

Mold hyphae fluorescing under UV light.

The minimum PPE (personal protective equipment) for dealing with mold includes glasses or goggles, a lab coat (and in general keeping as much skin covered as possible), latex or nitrile gloves, and a P95 or P100 disposable respirator.

PPEforMoldMitigation

PPE for mold mitigation.

Nilfisk

Nilfisk HEPA vacuum for mold removal.

Once personal precautions have been taken, we act. In the case of situations 1 or 2 described above, we are usually dealing with just a few items at a time. The moldy items are first isolated from the rest of the collection, and then assessed for damage. In the case of circulating items which have been returned to the Library with significant mold damage, we usually discard the item entirely and charge the patron to replace it.

In the case of Special Collections and Archives materials, we keep the moldy items quarantined until they can be vacuumed under the fume hood with a special vacuum fitted with a HEPA filter. We try to minimize the amount of moldy items we accept because our staffing levels allow us only 1 to 2 hours per week on our “mold workflow.” Items which have been treated for mold are affixed with a small label saying so, along with the date. In part this is to inform patrons about a potential health risk, and in part this helps us keep track of which items might be making repeat visits to the lab.

Situation 3, a mold outbreak in the collection, is dealt with in a slightly different manner. In the case of an active mold outbreak, the first step is not only to isolate the affected materials as quickly as possible, but also, if possible, to make the active bloom go dormant. We wrap items loosely in waxed paper and put them in one of our conservation freezers. The low temperature and humidity in the freezer will cause the mold to go dormant within a few days. Once the infestation is dormant, the items can be removed from the freezer and vacuumed — and treated further, if necessary — in small, manageable batches.

Mold-infested collection materials in the freezer.

Mold-infested collection materials in the freezer.

Meanwhile, the environmental conditions which caused the mold outbreak in the first place must be dealt with swiftly to prevent it from spreading throughout the collection. Leaking or standing water must be stopped and mopped up, while humidity and temperature levels must be brought into a safe range, and the ventilation checked.  We also have a couple of portable HEPA vacuums for vacuuming mold on-site.

Portable 3M HEPA vacuum for mold.

Portable 3M HEPA vacuum for mold.

In the case of a large mold outbreak affecting thousands of items, we would be too understaffed and under-equipped to cope, so we have vendor contracts in place to work with a professional recovery company under those circumstances.

Let’s head over to Preservation Underground to see how they feel about mold in the Duke University Libraries Conservation Department.

Written by Cindy Wahl and Suzette Schmidt of the Preservation Services unit.

Student employees are an important staffing component of the Preservation Services section of the Preservation Department at Iowa State University Library.  The unit has 3 staff employees, and with the volume of work being sent to and from the vendors, the students help make the workflow smooth and consistent.

1-SortingPeriodicals

Sorting and organizing periodicals.

Students are responsible for the filing of periodicals when they are received from our Serials Acquisitions department.  They sort and organize the issues prior to taking them to our Periodical Room or the General Collection for filing with the rest of the unbound issues.  While filing the periodicals, they also check the titles to see if there are now enough older issues on the shelf to pull and return them to staff in Preservation Services to have them prepared for binding.  In addition to pulling periodicals for binding while filing, we now have in place an electronic system where we can search, sort, and print out a list of periodicals that are now ready to be bound.  The student uses that list to organize and forward periodicals to staff for binding.

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Shelving issues in the Periodical Room.

There is a continual flow of work to be delivered and retrieved to other areas of the library and students are the legs for transporting these items.  With our Preservation Department being housed on two different floors and other departments spread throughout the five floors of the library, the students are valuable in moving work from floor to floor and department to department.

Boxing volumes to be shipped.

Boxing volumes to be shipped.

Preservation Services works with a variety of vendors for binding, reformatting, and mass deacidification, which all require packing and unpacking of volumes.  Students assist with this task while staff prepare the paperwork to be included with the shipments.  At times the volumes being shipped need a page-by-page review, and the students help with this process by noting any repairs, which are then handled by staff.  Upon receipt of the finished volumes, the new format is compared to the old volume by student employees to be sure the work is accurate and complete.

3-ReviewVolumes

Reviewing a thesis.

Some volumes being added to the collection need to have marking done to them prior to being forwarded for shelving.  These pass through the Preservation Services section where the student is responsible for stamping the volumes with the Iowa State University Library possession stamp, moving the bar code to the appropriate placement on the volume, and, if necessary, adhering the title and call number labels to the spine.

As work flows and tasks change within the Preservation Services unit, it is always important for us to review the assignments and use our students in the most productive manner.  They have shorter scheduled blocks of time, and their assistance is used best to help move the work through the unit and to help make the volumes available to patrons in a timely manner.

While growing up in Boone, Iowa, my Dad was always telling me about historical facts that had happened around Iowa.  The stories were fascinating and I am amazed today at local people who know nothing of them.  The earliest one I was told about, The Cardiff Giant, happened in 1869. Other stories included World Heavyweight Champion (1908-193) Frank Gotch, the 1881 railroad heroine Kate Shelley, the famous bandmaster and composer Karl King (1891-1971), the First Lady to President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961) Mamie Doud Eisenhower, and the December 18, 1846, death of 12-year-old Milton Lott, followed by the Spirit Lake Massacre on March 8-12, 1857.

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Worn case showing damage on the spine, especially at the head cap and tail cap.

One day while I was at work in the Conservation Lab, a book was sent up for repair titled The Spirit Lake Massacre by Thomas Teakle.  The book was worn, as the case had seen better days and needed a new case built for it.  Inside, there were greasy fingerprints, lots of pencil marks, water stains, soft paper pages with tears, and an old yellowed newspaper clipping with brittle tape adhering it to a blank page in the front of the book.  Someone had felt it was important enough to add this newspaper article to the book.  Upon looking at it, I found a penciled date of 10/12/38 with a title caption reading “1857 Veteran’s Widow is Dead.”  Further investigation beyond the information provided from the newspaper clipping revealed that Mr. Frank R. Mason, who was a Second Lieutenant of Company C from Webster City, Iowa, in 1856, is mentioned in The Spirit Lake Massacre. His wife, Belle, had passed away at age 84 as the last surviving widow of any soldier on the Spirit Lake Expedition in 1857.  Frank Mason is mentioned several times in this book, so that probably explains why the clipping was attached.

IowaHistory-01

Acidic newspaper clipping and failing pressure-sensitive tape.

I decided I wanted to remove the newspaper clipping, remove the adhesive, deacidify the clipping, mend it (as it was torn in half), and then encapsulate it with our Minter ultrasonic welder.  While re-assembling the book, I then sewed the encapsulated clipping in to the book.  I then built a new case in red book cloth to finish it.  This book is special to me with its history and all the work I needed to do to it.

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Marginalia and dirty fingerprints.

However, when I decided to do my blog post on this book, I didn’t mean it to be about Frank Mason and the Spirit Lake Massacre, as you can read more about that on your own, but about Milton Lott, a 12 year old boy who was the first death among the settlers of Boone County, Iowa, and whose death was one of the key starting factors of the Spirit Lake Massacre.  I remember when I was very young my Dad would take me down by the river and show me a little grave site with a white picket fence around it.  Was it still there?

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Milton Lott’s grave site by the Des Moines River.

Last fall, on a beautiful day, I drove down by the Des Moines River to see, and there it was. There was also another sign telling about the Milton Lott Tragedy, and how Sioux Indians raided the Lott homestead while Milton’s father, Henry Lott, was gone, and young Milton ran down by the river in the snow and succumbed to the bitter cold.  When his father returned three days later, he and a search party found Milton’s frozen body.  They hid his lifeless body in a hollow log until a proper burial could take place.  Milton’s mother died a week later from stress and exposure, the first woman settler to die in Webster County.  Eventually, Milton’s father and several men headed north and murdered Indian Chief Sidominadotah and his family after seeing that they were in possession of Mrs. Lott’s prized silverware set.  Later Indian Chief Inkpaduta, brother to Sidominadotah, retaliated resulting in the Spirit Lake Massacre.

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Fifty-seven years after Milton perished, the location of his burial was identified by two remaining men, and in 1905 a permanent marker was placed close to his grave site by the river.  It was a peaceful journey to view Milton’s grave site last fall with the trees changing color, the rustling of the leaves, and the swift flow of the Des Moines River, and it got me thinking of a scared young boy trying to flee from the raid on a freezing December day in 1846.  He died alone, and I felt sad for him. I will be back one day to visit Milton again.

Former Lennox Intern Susanna Donovan returns to the ISU Conservation Lab in virtual form, as a guest blogger! Susanna is currently a Mellon Fellow in Paper Conservation at Balboa Art Conservation Center in San Diego, CA.

This post comes as a note to the upcoming AIC annual meeting in San Francisco.

I heard this story on NPR in September in which a professor at Boston University observed how the size of a recyclable object had a direct influence on whether it was actually put into the recycling bin or not. It turned out that while a whole sheet of paper would be recycled, that same sheet of paper, torn into small bits, would find its way into the trash. In the time since this observation, the professor has become aware that his own recycling habits have changed. Now acutely aware of how many small recyclable items are over looked, he will even take the paper labels off of plastic coke bottles and recycle them separately.

I empathize, and I am also guilty.

As a conservator working with paper, I find myself with a growing collection of paper scraps. My spoils of Japanese paper, Western paper, (sandpaper?!), toned paper, remoistenable paper, and solvent-set papers are nestled into folders and Mylar sleeves. When I get annoyed at how the smaller pieces get everywhere and the static turns my long strips into crinkly messes, I nestle another, smaller, Mylar sleeve into the bigger Mylar sleeve in which to put the smaller bits.

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Avoiding a Russian nesting doll situation, my VERY small, but very precious bits of that perfectly toned paper go into one of those mini Altoid tins. I acquired these tins from various people. I feel like I can’t be the only book & paper conservator who asks friends, colleagues, and family members “Are you going to use that?” when a perfectly useable, hinged tin goes on the market. Anyway, my small bits go there. I can keep them contained, with the lid, and I don’t have to worry about the static of the mylar sleeves causing me grief. There is also my prized origami-envelope in which I keep some random things (i.e. the sandpaper, mylar mounting strip examples for photographs, itty bits of Western paper). I keep telling myself that one day I will open it out so I can remember how to make more envelopes, but I am too afraid that I will never be able to get it back to what it was, and then where will I put my random things?

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With all of my various ways of saving tiny mending strips and tangles of fuzz, you’d think that no fuzz goes unused, no strip wasted. But the trail of cotton and small squares of Japanese paper sunk into the carpet in the hallway bespeak the trials of every paper conservator out there: the dreaded paper cling. I admit that I have gone to the bathroom to look in the mirror and discover that I have fuzz all over my sweater. And here we come to the crux of my guilt: I brush it off. I do not save those bits that I find outside the confines of the lab, lest the administrative staff of the photography museum  in our shared hallway see me lightly holding something between my fingers on my way back from the bathroom…It would just look weird, right? But maybe I should. We save these small pieces of paper because we literally never know when we might need that EXACT tone, size, weight, etc., in the future. And some of these papers might be one of a kind, and so each and every piece is, indeed, precious. But what if I changed the narrative for those sweater-clingers, and thought first “waste not,” instead of “a fuzz on my chest again?! @$%&.” It might not do much, but since I am already shaking out my hands 12 times before grabbing that paper towel (as per a TED talk that stuck with me), what will it hurt?

Conserving is part of what we do, even if it might not be the first thing we use to define ourselves. The meeting in San Francisco will have presentations about sustainability and waste management in conservation, but I’d like to poke my nose out there and ask, more informally, what do you do?

Where do your small paper treasures hide? What lengths do you go to to use every last inch of that precious sheet of Tim Barrett paper ? What could we all do better?

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