So, to recap to my previous adventure: I had just learned how to make sticky footers that worked with our pages. I maintain many pages (34, plus a home page) for our website, and they are not all the same length. We have boutique pages. We have thumbnail pages. We have boutique pages with a little image vs. big image at the top. We have thumbnail pages that are short vs. ones that are long. We have a page that has secret embedded code so if you know the super-secret key combination, an elephant will appear in a pink tutu and dance a jig. (OK, well, maybe we don’t have that last one… but wouldn’t it be fun?) The thing is, we have a lot of pages that all basically have the same wraparound: the header, the menu, the footer is all the same. It’s the “inside,” and the length of the inside that’s different from page to page.

But let me step back a moment and give you some history. Here is what our pages looked like a few months ago:


You can see we had a vertical header across the top, along with a vertical menu. Then on the left side, we had a horizontal menu, with links that go to our pages within the site. The footer followed below, with social media icons below that and to the right. The primary reason I wanted to move to templates is that updating 34+ pages individually can be overwhelming at times, even if all you’re doing is copying and pasting. I thought knowing how to create templates might make it easier to maintain the pages.

I got my first chance when I was working on re-designing the Special Collections web pages; all their pages are template-centric. I thought it should be pretty easy to figure out. It would be how I usually figure things out: a combination of Firebug and reserve engineering; but digging through code, I had an issue with wrapping my brain around how to write the thing. That was frustrating!

I went back to my old standby of research; studying; reading. Looking at a made template can be quite confusing. It doesn’t seem logical that it could work. And indeed, my first few attempts were ugly. I’m even embarrassed to say that I might have accidentally messed up the main Special Collections’ old template in trying to figure out how to get the templates to create correct layouts.

One Friday afternoon, I was so frustrated, that I decided to leave work early and have some “me” days. My son, Ian, and I just bummed around all afternoon, had take-out chinese food, (my fortune was: “Now is a good time to finish up old business,”) and I just generally acted juvenile all weekend. That made all the difference in the world. When I got to work, I pulled out the fortune, placed it right beside my monitor and wrote the code for my first template. (Just goes to show, “me” days can be worth their weight in gold.) Here are the things I learned with that first template I created:

  1. Open Dreamweaver, if not open already. I use Dreamweaver CS6.
  1. Create and design a html page: File—>New…—>Blank Template. Select HTML template. I just selected <none> for Layout style, but the choice is up to you.


Click Create button.

This is what a blank DW template doc looks like.


  1. There are certain areas that you will want to leave blank in order for you to change for each page you are creating. For example the name: Don’t change that. Keep in mind, that everything “inside” the

<!– TemplateBeginEditable name=”doctitle” –>

<!– TemplateEndEditable –>

will stay editable. Everything outside of that section will be locked into the template. So, everything that you want to stay the same in every document MUST BE OUTSIDE THE GREEN <!— Template…Editable  —> sections. I cannot stress this enough. This is a very important point to remember.

  1. Add additional <!— Template…Editable —> sections as needed. Don’t be shy creating these sections, but don’t go cray cray either. I added one for additional styles and another one for my inside details, and third one for stat counter code at the bottom of the page. (I used the auto generated head section for my Google Analytics stats, but I also keep stats through StatCounter, and that requires different code for each page.) So, I created three additional <!— Template…Editable —> sections. The ones I listed are probably the most you really need to add. Remember, you only need these sections for code/html that you want to be able to change individually on pages, not universally.

From this point on, just create the page like you would create a normal html page, with css documents; javascript; and html.

When you go to name your template page, use a name that anyone can clearly understand. I named mine boutiquePage. The page will save with a .dwt. This is the page you will open up and edit when you want universal changes across all your template-based pages.

For example, if you have a menu that needs updating, open up this document and make the changes here; once you have saved the document, a dialog box will appear:


Click Update button.

Another dialog box will pop up and give you an update.


Click Done or Close button (which ever one applies,) to dismiss the dialog box. Old documents tied to this template (and new ones created after,) will now contain this update.

If you go into a document connected to the template, you can see (via the greyed out text,) that the information has been updated:


Further, you can check in Preview to see the live view:


Once you have made the change to the template, and saved/updated the other documents, you will need to upload all affected pages again to your server.

We’ll explore making new documents and changing certain elements with those new documents for my next blog, slated for July 21, 2015. Until then, happy coding, and may HTML forever be in your favor.

I am finally back from 11 weeks of maternity leave. My family welcomed beautiful Cora Leigh into the world in the early hours on January 29.



As my return got closer many people asked if I was ready to go back or commented “wouldn’t it be nice to stay home?” While I really enjoyed my time at home with Cora (and wearing yoga pants every day) many were surprised that I was ready to get back to work – I needed a routine, I missed my people, my work family. I was happy to see a pile of work waiting for me (my people need me).

Just like home where things had changed with the arrival of a baby things at work had changed some also. I returned to a dimly lit lab where our technician was working quietly at her bench while our department head typed away in her office. Our student workers had either graduated or moved on for the summer months and our conservator had moved to the east coast. It was quiet, almost like we were empty nesters.

Just as a family changes, changes are coming to this little library family I have – the students will be back before we know it (maybe even some new ones), a new conservator will join us, and we will also be welcoming a new dean of the library.

Preservation family

Preservation family

Thinking about these changes have made me realize that family is all around. Whether this is typical or not my work people are a family too. We help each other, we support each other, we work around each other’s quirks and we are there for each other on good days & bad. People come and go, additions are made, some leave forever, but most of all everyone is needed.

It’s that time of year again, when warm spring weather signals the end of classes and brings on graduations.  This week is finals week here at Iowa State University and it will end with commencement ceremonies.  We scanned many of the earliest commencement programs from our archives and made them available online in our Digital Collections.

Over the years, there are a variety of styles of printing and constructing the programs, with one even being held together with yarn.  Besides the programs, some include a list of commencement week activities.  It can be interesting to look back and see how things were done long ago compared to today.  You can see what kinds of music was played, the guest speakers and what they spoke about, and names of graduates and their areas of study.  One program from 1880, shown below, has an entry which reads “Shall We Encourage Irish Immigration” which is an interesting look at how some topics of popular concern have evolved over time.

Here is the front cover of a program from 140 years ago and a page of another program from 1880 tied with yarn.


Happy National Preservation Week!

wanted poster

To kick things off, an little reminder that Iowa State University Library is searching for a permanent, full-time professional library and archives conservator who specializes in book and paper conservation.  We are looking for a conservator with training and experience in conservation of rare books. archival materials, and general collections.  A Master’s Degree in Conservation, Library Science or related field is required.  The opportunity for promotion exists for this position based on performance and external reputation developed through service to the profession such as committee work, and/or scholarship in the field.

The Conservator manages a hybrid conservation lab, supervises staff and students, trains the annual Lennox Foundation graduate intern, works with Special Collections staff to identify and prioritize treatment, performs conservation treatment on rare books and archival collections, stabilizes and prepares materials for exhibit and digitization, leads the library disaster response team, and participates in the Iowa-wide disaster response team (IMALERT).  Oversees the spending of dedicated supply/equipment and out-sourced conservation budgets.  Our well equipped lab is located on the fourth floor (not the basement) along with Special Collections and University Archives, and is over 3,400 square feet including office and storage space.


It is an exciting time in the library as we prepare to welcome our new Dean of the Library, Beth McNeil, who seems to get that sparkle in her eyes when we talk about our rare and unique materials.  A new strategic plan has been drafted that not only focuses on service to our users but also gives attention to our staff and a healthy workplace.  There has been an influx of new and energetic staff as hiring has increased not only in the library, but across campus.  Construction is happening on campus and throughout Ames as the university attracts more students, faculty, staff, and businesses.  And of course, it’s spring on one of the most beautiful campuses in the country.  (The campus was awarded the American Society of Landscape Architecture medallion award given to outstanding landscape sites).

ISU spring


Although this is not a faculty position, there is a lot of useful information about ISU and Ames provided by the Provost’s Office here: and Professional & Scientific employee benefits from Human Resources:

Click to see posting and to apply by May 10, 2015:

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the position:  Hilary


I recently made a box for an old book titled The Medical and Agricultural Register, For the Years 1806 and 1807.  I like the comment on the title page “designed for the use of families.”  This book was very interesting, not only in its content, but also in what has happened to the book physically over time.


I see that the price of 35 cents had been handwritten in ink inside both the front and back covers.


Inside there was some moisture damage, foxing, and staining from the oily printing ink, yet the paper quality is in great shape and has a nice “feel” to it.


This book is still in relatively good condition considering it is over 200 years old, and I can handle it without it crumbling in my hands. This is where I get a little misty-eyed thinking of how cool this book really is.  Books were made better back then with good materials and strong paper, not like the cheap books that are constructed today, which are pricey and will fall apart easily after a little use and abuse.


What I find most interesting about this book is the information and topics it contains.  “To prevent the fatal Effects of drinking cold Water, or cold Liquors of any kind in warm Weather,”  “Case of Lock-Jaw Successfully treated with Brandy and Opium,” and “To prevent the fatal Effects of Lightning.”  Under the lightning section, it reads:

“When a person is struck by lightning, strip the body and throw buckets full of cold water over it for ten or fifteen minutes; let continued frictions and inflations of the lungs be also practiced:  let gentle shocks of electricity be made to pass through the chest, when a skillful person can be procured to apply it; and apply blisters to the breast.”

The books also contains planting and meteorological tables, cider and pickling recipes, more interesting medical treatments and advice, and the “Bill of Mortality for 1806, in 20 Towns.”  Just a wealth of information in 1806 and 1807 for a very interesting time, but it makes me happy to be alive in 2015.


We said goodbye to Melissa, our conservator, last week.  She will be heading off to Delaware to serve as the Library Conservator at the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, and as Affiliated Faculty for the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation.  She will be shaping the minds, philosophical approaches, and conservation skills of our future library and archives conservators.  I know that she will do a great job not only teaching them book conservation techniques and the research that informs the approach to treating unique items and their problems, but also a sensitivity to the context and setting of these objects when making the treatment decision. She had a lot of exposure to this kind of decision-making while juggling the needs of our special collections materials and general collections, having to prioritize workflows for exhibits, digitization, disaster salvage, general book repair, and conservation treatment and housing for a wide variety of artifacts.


Photo by Mindy Moeller


After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin Kilgarlin Center for Preservation of the Cultural Record with her MLIS and specialization in conservation, and interning at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Melissa joined the ISU Preservation Department at the end of 2009.  In 2010 she was greeted with one of the snowiest winters in central Iowa from January to March and a flood in August that resulted in thousands of flood damaged architectural drawings requiring treatment.  We were certain she would leave after that, but she stuck around for four more years and we are grateful for everything she accomplished, and of course, her boot collection–turquoise cowboy boots, polka dot rain boots, snow boots, hiking boots, fashion boots, you name it.

Boots2 crop

Without launching into a litany of accomplishments, and there were many, I want to highlight something that Melissa managed to do that I thought would be impossible.  When Melissa started at ISU, she kept having to correct her colleagues as to which public university in Iowa she represented.  She took it upon herself to put the ISU Library Preservation Department “on the map.”  She started our social media presence and launched our Facebook page and this blog site which has received national recognition.  With a little help from her co-workers and the joint 1091 Project with Beth Doyle at Duke University, she was able to share the goings-on in the department with other conservators, preservation specialists, students, library staff, and the general public.  The blog now has 368 posts, 686 comments, 76 followers, and 136,420 all time views.  She did it!  She reached a lot of individuals who may or may not have known that the department existed or were uncertain as to what we do.  We are less often mistaken for that other Iowa university to the east of us.

We will miss Melissa and her many boots!


When you see the work “tux” you may think of an expensive, fancy dress suit for a gentleman.  What I think of is a protective, thin box made out of 20 point tan board used to protect a fragile or uniquely structured book.



Recently we received a donation of several very old, unique books that need protective enclosures and will be housed in the Cage area.  Tux boxing is usually used on thin books where we cannot make a phase box but also a few of these books are thicker in depth and I still chose to do tux boxing because of space limitations in the Cage.  Using thinner, 20 point boards means more room on the shelves instead of making a phase box or CMI box.  Not all of these tux boxes are heading to the Cage.  One is going to the Library’s Storage Building, which also has space limitations, and another is going to the General Collection shelves and just needs a protective wrapping around it.  Other times I’ve had to make tux boxes for books that have unique or decorative covers that need protection from the books it will sit next to on the shelves. The tux wrap keeps them from rubbing together and getting damaged.


These are nice little boxes that are easy and quick to make in just a few minutes, and provide great protection for fragile and unique books.  Think of it as a way of “dressing up” a book!


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