Outreach


It’s National Preservation Week! While every week of the year is “preservation week” for cultural heritage professionals, National Preservation Week focuses on outreach to the general public and among allied professions such as archivists, librarians, museum curators, vendors of archival supplies, preservation administrators, and conservators.

Library_Front-b-OL

Here at ISU Library, we’re focusing attention this week on what to do about WET BOOKS.  Too often, a library book accidentally gets wet, and by the time the borrower  has returned it to the library, it is so infested with mold that we end up having to discard the book and charge the borrower a hefty replacement fee.  Library users often don’t realize how expensive it is to replace a library book. Not only are they charged the cost of the book itself, but also processing fees for the book to be acquired, cataloged, and marked for the shelf.

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T-Shirt Giveaway

We’ve designed Preservation Week t-shirts with the design above on the front, and advice about how to handle wet books on the back.  Access Services and Preservation staff will be wearing the t-shirts as well as “Ask Me About Book First Aid!” stickers.  This Wednesday, April 30, through Friday, May 2, we will be giving away free t-shirts to the first 40 library users who ask a t-shirt-wearing staff member about preservation or book first aid.

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During the 2010 flood, we waived fees for replacing damaged books, because we recognized that the campus community was struggling to salvage a lot more than their library books. However, we would really like to save students and staff the cost of replacement fees whenever possible, so we’re campaigning to educate our users about what Preservation can do for them. 

Accidents happen! Sometimes, a drink spills onto a library book. Books get rained on, or dropped in puddles. Bringing a wet book back to the library immediately gives Preservation a chance to dry it properly before permanent damage (warping, cockling, mold) sets in.  Follow our simple tips to help us mitigate damage to our collections, and your reward will be avoiding a potentially costly replacement fee!

Damp Book?

  • Fan open pages
  • Stand book on end in well-ventilated area until dry.
  • Return book to Circulation Desk and tell staff.

Wet Book?

  • Return book immediately to Circulation Desk.
  • If Library is closed: Wrap book in wax paper or foil and freeze. Return the still-wrapped book to the Library as soon as it opens.
  • Do not put a wet book in a plastic bag!

Moldy Book?

  • Seal book in a plastic bag.
  • Return book to Circulation Desk as soon as possible.
  • Warn staff that book is moldy.

Thank you for helping us care for the library collections that we all share!

CompGuideToWordpressInLibrariesToday, on our preservation blog’s fourth anniversary, it seems fitting to mention that “Parks Library Preservation” has been featured in Amanda L. Goodman’s The Comparative Guide to WordPress in Libraries (ALA TechSource, 2013) as an example of WordPress usage in an academic library (pp.91-95).  The first half of the book explains the basics of WordPress and offers a step-by-step planning guide to maximizing the effectiveness of the WordPress platform for your particular institution.  The second half of the book is composed of brief case studies of WordPress sites implemented by academic libraries, library associations, digital libraries and archives, government libraries, public libraries, and others.

Four years later, we find that our WordPress blog continues to function more or less as we hoped it would when we first started. The blog has increased our public profile, and allowed us to better serve the Iowa community, in keeping with the mission of ISU as a land grant institution.  With our preservation colleagues spread far and wide, the blog has also allowed us to connect and engage professionally with the field at large.

We’ve stumbled a bit along the way, but after some trial and error, we have settled into a workable blogging schedule. Towards the end of each calendar year, I draft the following year’s schedule, assigning a pre-determined number of posts to each member of the Preservation Department, and setting aside posting days for students and interns as well.  We’ve figured out that the right posting schedule for us is once per week, with an additional monthly post for the 1091 Collaborative Blogging Project with the Conservation Department at Duke University Libraries.

We’ve seen our readership blossom to an average of 3,000 views per month, and we’re bolstered by our small but dedicated following of approximately 500 subscribers through various channels.

Thanks for being part of our community. We look forward to your continuing comments and feedback in the coming year and beyond!

Light is very important to conservation labs: the right amount of the right kind of light particularly influences fine detail work and color matching. However, as anyone familiar with preservation issues knows, light is also The Enemy.  Damaging UV light may be the part of the spectrum that gets the most attention, but any light causes cumulative damage to paper-based materials over time.

LabWindow

The lab’s oversized window is coated with UV-filtering film, but all light causes some level of damage to paper-based materials.

Our lab workspace is mainly lit by overhead fluorescents with UV filters on them.  Likewise, our large, lovely window is also covered with UV-filtering film.  We store our colored tissues in flat files nearby, so it’s easy to hold them up to the window and take advantage of the natural light when selecting the right color for a repair.

Allen, Sue. American Book Covers, 1830–1900. Washington: Library of Congress, 1998. Leaflet LC 1.6/4:AM 3/2.

Allen, Sue. American Book Covers, 1830–1900. Washington: Library of Congress, 1998. Leaflet LC 1.6/4:AM 3/2.

In spite of our precautions regarding UV filters, the lab is still flooded with more light than is safe for paper-based materials over the long term, as the framed poster above regularly reminds us.  The colors have faded and shifted over time, simply from being exposed to the ambient light we need to do our daily work.

LightDamage2

Another reminder of the amount of light exposure in the lab: this archival document box we use to store lab materials has also shifted color over time!

Aware of light’s insidious and relentless power, we take whatever precautions we can when working with Special Collections and Archives materials in the lab by covering them up with an enclosure, sheet of blotter, or other light-blocker when we are not actively working on them.

As part of our responsibilities as a land grant institution, we are charged with providing education and outreach services to the public. In the lab, this charge manifests as preservation consultations for Iowa residents and institutions.  When it comes to light exposure, we strongly encourage our visitors not to display treasured, original photographs or documents from their personal collections in heavily used or brightly lit rooms. Light damage is irreversible, so the precautions are worthwhile. Originals may be stored in enclosures or in dark drawers or cabinets, and displayed only on special occasions. Alternatively, originals may be scanned and a surrogate printed for display purposes, while the original is stored safely out of the light. If originals must be displayed, then we strongly recommend framing with a UV-filtering plexi, with the caveat that this will only partially mitigate one form of light damage.

1091map1 For this month’s 1091 Project, we asked student worker Devin Koch to answer some questions about her position in the Conservation Lab at Iowa State University Library.  Here’s what she had to say.

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What is your major, and when do you graduate?  How did you find out about this job?  

My name is Devin Koch and I am an Integrated Studio Arts Major, concentrating in ceramics and painting, and graduating in December.  I happened into my student conservation job by chance. I was already working in Preservations Services, which is another unit of the Preservation Department. During the summer of 2012, I was looking for more hours at the Library, and I was in luck: the Conservation Lab was in need of an extra student during the summer. First, I was told that my presence would be a temporary change, and I would just be doing minimal work to assist with the summer workload. Over the course of the summer, Melissa and Mindy gradually had me do more advanced treatments. I started by organizing cabinets, and cutting spine liners, and finished the summer with double-fan adhesive binds. Seeing how I had progressed, Melissa offered me a student worker position during the school year. I gladly accepted the position, and for the next school year split my time between Preservation Services and the Conservation Lab. This past summer, I decided to move my schedule exclusively to the Lab.

Devin Koch

Devin Koch

What are your favorite parts about this work?  What has been the most challenging thing you have had to do in this position?

Everything about this job is interesting to me. The first day I arrived in the lab I was fascinated by the presses, guillotine, tissue, and array of books for repair. Being an art major, I love materials. The act of making is very important to me. So I greatly value having a job that permits me to do so. It allows me to maximize the hand skills that I have learned in my major. Working at the lab has given me a greater attention to materials and methods that have crossed over into my studio work.

I might have a very different attitude about the work I do if the staff and students here were different. They make it easy for me to learn new treatments, and are approachable when I have questions. Mindy Moeller, our Technician, is beyond patient when teaching. I’m surprised she doesn’t get annoyed at all the questions I ask. Melissa loves to share her knowledge of materials and treatments with the students. Mindy McCoy, our Preservation Assistant, and Martha, our volunteer, are very helpful with any other questions I might have about the lab and treatments. The staff makes this job easy to come to every day. The other student workers are enjoyable to work with. The collection of personalities working at the lab, while diverse, mesh together well.

The two treatments I enjoy the most are sewing and full repairs. Sewing is a relaxing treatment that requires patience and persistence, especially when the odd stitch breaks when pulled too tight. A full repair is the most advanced treatment that I can currently do. It is so enjoyable because it has taken everything that I have learned in the lab and put it into one treatment. The most challenging treatment for me has been making enclosures. A misstep in the final placement or a slightly crooked fold can take something that you have been laboring over and make you have to pitch it. It can be frustrating, but it is so satisfying when finished correctly.

Do you have a favorite project you have worked on?

My favorite thing so far was participating in the Order of the Knoll with fellow student Hope Mitchell and Head of Preservation Hilary Seo. At this event, Hope and I manned a demonstration booth and were lucky enough to talk to donors about what we do in the lab and why it is important to the University.

Hope Mitchell (left) and Devin Koch (right) at the Order of the Knoll on October 4, 2013.

Hope Mitchell (left) and Devin Koch (right) at the Order of the Knoll on October 4, 2013.

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Don’t forget to stop by Preservation Underground to hear the perspective of one of the student workers in the Duke University Libraries Conservation Lab!

At first, most people in the United States think that I work in a forest.

“I’m not in environmental conservation. I work in the library. With books.”
–“So you are doing research about the environment?”
“No no, I am not doing research. I am working with books. To make them better. Like a doctor.”
–“Oh, okay. What kind of degree is that?…”

In France, many of my French colleagues have had to clarify that no, they do not work in the food business, since the word for conservation, restauration, shares a common root with “restaurant.” It is an international challenge, then, to have our profession be recognized for what it is.

So on some occasions, I’ve sought more creative ways to explain what I do.

“I’m a book conservator. Do you watch Dexter? Well the serial killer in the sixth season – the one who works with rare books in a museum? That’s kind of what I do.”

Or then again:

“You know that grandmother who destroyed the church fresco of Christ in Spain? Conservators do the OPPOSITE of that.”

Of course, it’s not ideal to be contextualized by a serial killer, or by a well-meaning but unqualified (and ballsy!) grandmother, but I would tell myself that at least these current cultural trends help increase exposure to our field.

Recently, though, I’ve needed no translation…

On my flight from Chicago to Des Moines, the passenger sitting next to me asked me where I was going and what I’d be doing there. I told her that I was going to start an internship in Book Conservation at Iowa State University Library.

“Oh I love books!” She said. “My sister and I read all the time!! How wonderful for you.”

And when I was visiting Iowa City, a new artist-friend asked “Oh, so do you get rid of foxing?” when I introduced myself and my line of work.

Could it be that word is spreading? Or that book lovers and artists, those more apt to be up-to-date about the dangers their favorite works are exposed to, are running rampant in Iowa?

Whatever the case, it’s been a good first week here in Ames, Iowa. I’m settling into the lab, getting to know the team, and spending quality time with a few certain baggy books.

I’ve started with treating a series of quarter leather tightback bindings from the mid-19th century. For the most part, these books are in good condition, aside from the leather spines which are deteriorating along the shoulders and have in most cases detached completely or in pieces.

Archives des Sciences Physiques et Naturelles 1857 v.35 Before Treatment

Archives des Sciences Physiques et Naturelles 1857 v.35 Before Treatment

Archives des Sciences Physiques et Naturelles 1846 v.2 Before Treatment

Archives des Sciences Physiques et Naturelles 1846 v.2 Before Treatment

For a number of these volumes, we determined that the best treatment would be housing, considering the amount of time that would be spent piecing the fragments back together (and the other exciting books that await me!)  So, Melissa suggested making Ethafoam platforms that would nestle into Tuxedo boxes and hold the fragments in place.

Archives des Sciences Physiques et Naturelles 1847 v.6

Archives des Sciences Physiques et Naturelles 1847 v.6

Lovely.

In the cases where the spine is intact but detached from the volume, I’ve opted to line the spine piece with Japanese tissue, leaving flanges to insert under the leather of the boards.

Archives des Sciences Physiques et Naturelles 1846 v.1

Archives des Sciences Physiques et Naturelles 1846 v.1

1846 v.1 Detail

1846 v.1 Detail

It’s been successful so far, and I’m looking forward to continuing with these volumes, and to completing the Baggy Books project.

So here’s to a good first week.  In a fair world, this conservation news would make headlines around the globe! But Dexter and Spanish grandmothers being so scintillating, I’m happy to spread my news this way, on the Preservation Department blog.

Keep it classy, Iowa.

Out-going Sustainability Committee Chair Sarah Nunberg introduces the lunch session programming.

Out-going Sustainability Committee Chair Sarah Nunberg introduces the lunch session programming.

This year’s Annual Meeting of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) took place in Indianapolis, IN, May 29-June 1, 2013.  The Sustainability Committee organized a sold-out Lunch Session with over 60 attendees.  After enjoying a delicious buffet lunch and casual conversation with colleagues, participants listened to a brief presentation by Matthew Eckelman, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northeastern University.  Dr. Eckelman presented the results of three Life Cycle Assessments his students had performed at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts during the spring of 2013: (1) LCA of LED lighting versus halogen lighting; (2) LCA of “coasting” the fans of one wing of the HVAC system; and (3) LCA of museum loans.  For more information on any of these projects, please visit the Sustainability Committee’s section of the AIC Conservation Wiki, or contact one of the committee’s members.

Dr. Matthew Eckelman, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northeastern University, presents the findings of his students' LCA projects.

Dr. Matthew Eckelman, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northeastern University, presents the findings of his students’ LCA projects.

In a (very small) nutshell, the  LCA projects determined that:

  • LED lights, in spite of some of their current drawbacks, are still a far more sustainable choice than halogens.  As the technology improves, LEDs are likely to become an even better choice.  When installing LEDs, pay attention to current bulb housings.  Pairing the wrong type of cannister housing with LED bulbs can shorten their life and efficiency.
  • “Coasting” the fans of an HVAC system can lead to great energy savings with a negligible impact on collections materials.  Further study is needed to explore the impacts of coasting other aspects of the HVAC system, such as the heating and cooling elements.  The actual effectiveness of coasting depends on the local environment and the institution in question (building envelope, design of current HVAC system, etc.)
  • The LCA of museum loans is a very complicated issue.  This study examined carbon footprint only, and found that packing materials had far less impact than courier travel and the construction necessary for exhibit preparation.  This LCA has laid the groundwork for further in-depth study of the museum loans process.

After the presentation, lunch session participants broke into discussion groups by table and addressed a list of discussion questions which had been prepared ahead of time by the Sustainability Committee.  The table I was sitting at enjoyed a very lively discussion about options for reducing the impact of couriering artwork for museum loans, and also how to encourage buy-in from upper administrators for moving to a more sustainable model.

AIC2013-Sustainability-03

Sustainability Lunch Session participants during the breakout discussion group portion of the programming.

Overall, the feedback I heard about the Sustainability Lunch Session was very positive.  Participants gained useful information from the LCA projects performed by Dr. Eckelman’s students, and they also enjoyed the opportunity to engage more actively with their colleagues during the breakout discussions.

The Sustainability Committee is partnering with the newly-formed Collection Care Network to develop a General Session program for the 2014 AIC Annual Meeting, so if you are interested in the intersection of sustainable conservation practices, collections care, and preventive conservation, start planning to attend the 42nd AIC Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA, May 28-May 31, 2014.

Upon opening a website, there is an expectation to see a nice, neat, orderly layout with a banner across the top and a menu down the side. Whichever browser is opened, it will look and function the same. However, what happens when using a mobile device?

Mobile devices are a recent addition to the technology-based world. There are two different types of mobile devices: smart phones and tablets.  Each present two different ways to look at information. Although smart phone screens are inching back up to larger sizes, viewing a full website typically results in too small a view to appreciate the layout.  Tablets (including hybrid e-readers), however, are just miniature laptops, so viewing a full site looks decent.

More people are ditching desktops and laptops for tablets and smart phones. Tablets are a more affordable and portable option for many who only need to go online, check email, watch media and occasionally write documents.  Plus, more locations are offering free Wi-Fi.

While these device are more light-weight than laptops and desktops, and present instant-on and instant access to information, they offer an interesting and complicated development for website designers. There is waffling on how to present web pages with these devices in mind, with absolutely NO consistency across the internet. While using smart phones, some sites (www.iastate.edu) present a page or a pop-up window giving an option between a mobile or full site.

iastedu

For tablets, it goes straight to full site. Others (www.lib.iastate.edu) simply send the user to the full site, whether using smart phones or tablets.

iastlibedu2

Other sites vary. The Des Moines Register utilizes a mobile site with two different layouts, in addition to the full site. The tablet edition gives the option of increasing data storage on your tablet to 50MB; the use of images is prevalent.

iPad1

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. Clockwise from top left: tablet first screen; tablet second screen; tablet full site; tablet mobile screen.

On the smart phone layout, the images are unobtrusive, but these images are rotated out every few days.

iPhone

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. Left to right: smart phone first screen; smart phone scrolled to bottom of screen; smart phone full site; smart phone landscape view.

The Ames Tribune defaults to the full site when using a tablet:

amestribtab

and mobile site (with no images) when detecting a smart phone:

amestrib

The ISU Library Digital Collections site currently does not design with mobile devices in mind. This decision was made not only because images are not temporary and continue to be added, but because the images are managed and hosted through CONTENTdm®, which does not utilize mobile layouts. To offer the mobile layouts for devices on the front end of the site, only to link into non-optional layout pages is neither seamless nor professional, and therefore the site will be left as-is for the foreseeable future. How would the user benefit from a text-only site, where the information, ultimately, is neither bite-sized nor appropriate without images?

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