InterestingBook-00

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.

InterestingBook-01

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

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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.

InterestingBook-03

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.

InterestingBook-04

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.

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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!

Tux-1

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.

Tux-2

 

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.

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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!

It’s my final week at ISU Library, and I’m feeling nostalgic. Looking back on my five and a half years in the Conservation Lab, there are a few treatments that stand out as particularly memorable.

The 2010 flood hit during my first summer in Ames, and strongly impacted the next 18 months in the lab, as we salvaged and treated thousands of flood-soaked documents, architectural drawings, blueprints, and photographs for Facilities, Planning & Management.

2010Flood-Melissa

In 2011, this ISU football manual from the 1930s landed on my bench. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to preserve the original structure of the 3-ring binder, while also giving the acidic and insect-damaged pages some support. You can read about the treatment in my original post.

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In 2012, I worked on another football-related conservation treatment, the housing for the last letter written by Jack Trice. He wrote the letter on hotel stationery in 1923, on the eve of his first major college football game, during which he sustained fatal injuries. The double-sided letter is suspended in a Mylar window in this portfolio, so both sides can be read.

The last letter written by Jack Trice in 1923, on the eve of the college football game in which he was fatally injured.

The last letter written by Jack Trice in 1923, on the eve of the college football game in which he was fatally injured.

The original letter is housed in ISU Library Special Collections, but we also created a facsimile which I bound into a custom enclosure decked out in Cyclone colors for Coach Rhoads to take with him on recruiting trips.

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Facsimile of the last letter written by Jack Trice.

In 2013, I thoroughly enjoyed working on a display rehousing for unclassified botanical specimens in the Sarah Underwood Papers.

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In 2014, a new acquisition came to the lab with a curling, brittle paper label. I ended up resewing the textblock and rebacking the spine. This project was a particular pleasure because the sewing structure was a bit of a mystery to unravel, quite literally.

The Practical Planter (1799)

The Practical Planter (1799)

It turned out the volume had been sewn five-on, five-on, seven-on, seven-on, five-on on four support cords. This method would have saved time and money for the bookseller, and was in keeping with the humble paper retail binding. I resewed following the original pattern.

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And finally, just this month, I finished a full leather rebinding of a 1579 Italian imprint of Garcia de Orta’s Aromatum et simplicium aliquot… The book came to us bound in a typical eighteenth-century English style tightback binding covered in acid-sprinkled calfskin leather. Although the binding style was anachronistic with respect to the textblock, it told a story of the volume’s provenance, so I was hesitant to remove it. However, the volume had been oversewn and had some tears and sloppy hide glue repairs that made the book virtually unusable. I disbound the volume, removed the hide glue accretions, and mended and guarded the damaged pages. Then I rebound it in a manner sympathetic to the imprint’s sixteenth-century Italian origins by resewing on alum-tawed thongs with made endpapers of Italian handmade marbled paper. I sewed on silk endbands, and laced on boards built up from layers of paperboard. I covered the volume in edge-pared goatskin leather, working around the bands to give the appearance of a tightback, but in fact allowing a hollow on the spine when the book opens. According to Bernard Middleton, spine labels were not used before 1600 in Europe, although titles were sometime blind-tooled directly on the spine. However, most spines were left blank, and this is what I chose for this volume, since it would be housed in a cloth-covered clamshell box along with its previous case (which was given a foam insert for support).

Previous binding on left; rebound volume on right.

Previous binding (with foam insert)  on left; rebound volume on right.

Benchwork has been only one part of the enriching professional activities I have enjoyed during my tenure as ISU Library’s Conservator, but it has been a fascinating and deeply rewarding part of my work.

Written by Suzette Schmidt.

The Iowa State University Library’s Preservation Services unit is responsible for gathering, organizing, and preparing three newspaper publications to be shipped out of the Library to a microfilming company in order to be filmed and permanently added to our collection.  This allows people to research these publications starting from 1890 (in the case of the Iowa State Daily) to the present.  The biggest problem we have had in completing this task is making sure we had a copy of each issue published.  We solved this problem and no longer need to worry about having the copies we need.

Newspapers

  • Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman is a weekly publication of Iowa Farm Bureau providing important information regarding agriculture from all parts of the state.   We had been using the copy which we receive on subscription, but were finding that often issues were missing.  We would then need to borrow the publisher’s copy.  To avoid this problem, the publisher now sends us a copy to use only for microfilming.
  • Toons is a free weekly publication of Cartoons and Puzzles that is enjoyed by many from Iowa State, Ames, and the surrounding communities.  Once again, we were having problems with the papers disappearing from our shelves.  Toons is placed around campus and the community with one of these locations at the building next to the library.  One of our staff members picks up a copy each week which we use as the copy for microfilming.
  • Iowa State Daily is the daily student newspaper of Iowa State University providing information to students, faculty, staff, and community members about events and other subjects of interest in regards to this academic institution.   The library obtains 2 copies of the Daily.  One copy is mailed to us and a second copy is picked up by a staff member in Special Collections.  Having 2 copies available allows us to pick the cleanest copy to send to our vendor for filming.

I have all these great ideas floating around in my head for our web pages at any moment in time. Some of them are hilarious, never-will-do, ideas; but sometimes, I see something and I think: that should be easy enough to create for our page(s), right? Isn’t it just code that needs to be massaged? If I can figure out how to tease it just right, it should fit nicely in with our pages.

Sticky footers were such a piece of code that looked simple enough to implement. It’s just a footer at the end of the page; it is always hanging out down there; and, no matter how long or short the page scrolls, it stays at the bottom. Basically, it is a reverse (or mirror,) of a header that run across the top all the way, with the main part centered in the page. I wanted to use sticky footers because I was moving to templates on the re-designed pages; when using templates, the height of the page can vary, but the elements on the page stay the same. Well, what sounds easy isn’t always as such, as I (again) found out when I started to re-design our web pages. When will I ever learn? Probably, maybe, hopefully never, because I’m having too much fun finding solutions to problems.

Let’s start at the beginning of my struggle, and that always begins with research. Most sticky footers that I have seen go all across the bottom of the page, like so:

example_1

Then, there are sticky footers that always show “at the bottom,” even when, technically, it isn’t the bottom of the page:

example_2

I didn’t want either of these, exactly. I wanted something that stayed at “THE” “VERY” bottom of the page, and something that didn’t go all across the bottom. Like:

example_3

Doing a Google search, brings Mr. Fait’s page up first. Here is the css code for sticky footers:

 

* {

margin: 0;

}

html, body {

height: 100%;

}

.wrapper {

min-height: 100%;

margin: 0 auto -155px; /* the bottom margin is the negative value of the footer’s height */

}

footer, .push {

height: 155px; /* ‘.push’ must be the same height as ‘footer’ */

}

 

/*

 

Sticky Footer by Ryan Fait

http://ryanfait.com/

 

*/

 

Placing this in a css document and saving it, or placing at the top of the html doc between <head></head> divs should give the effect wanted. That’s it! Everything should work…right? Not so fast, little grasshopper. I couldn’t get this code to work as easily as advertised. When this happens, one of the first things I do when I see a sample of code I like is to go into Firebug (this can either be built right in, as it is in Firefox, or it can be downloaded for most other browsers. This browser app working right in the browser to “show” the code/html/css used in the layout of the page. This little app is indispensable for web designers.) In this case, I am using Firefox, so, here it’s located on the top, left of the search box. It looks like a little bug, and might be grayed out:

Firebug

Looking at Firebug revealed that this was a very simple layout. I’m sure it works great with designers who have very simple pages. Alas, my pages are complex, and maybe, er…messy, even. Plus, I have over 35 pages I maintain. As it, luckily, turns out: there are several designers who devote pages to nothing but creating sticky footers. And after searching, and using Firebug to explore those pages, I came across this one:

 

/*

Sticky Footer Solution

by Steve Hatcher

http://stever.ca

http://www.cssstickyfooter.com

*/

 

* {margin:0;padding:0;}

 

/* must declare 0 margins on everything, also for main layout components use padding, not

vertical margins (top and bottom) to add spacing, else those margins get added to total height

and your footer gets pushed down a bit more, creating vertical scroll bars in the browser */

 

html, body {margin:0;}

 

.wrap {min-height: 100%;}

 

#main {overflow:auto;

padding-bottom: 5px;}  /* must be same height as the footer */

 

#footer {position: relative;

margin-top: -70px; /* negative value of footer height */

height: 70px;

clear:both;}

 

/*Opera Fix*/

body:before {/* thanks to Maleika (Kohoutec)*/

content:””;

margin:0;

float:left;

width:0;

margin-top:-32767px;/* thank you Erik J – negate effect of float*/

}

 

I liked this one a lot because the designer goes into explicit detail about how to incorporate this code and issues known to using it. Also, it had additional code for Opera and code for use on IE 6 and lower (although I didn’t use that part of the code, and anyone using IE 6, in my humble opinion, is a very sad potato, indeed.) However, the css document listed on this page still wasn’t enough for me. Firebug revealed that another css was also used (called finerstyle.css.) After I copied that css code and placed it in its own document, I finally made the code work exactly as I thought it would. Which, again, highlights the super power of Firebug. And why one should always investigate pages. That’s the great thing about the internet and Firebug. Working hand in hand, you can find what you need and how to use it. Having finally accomplished my perfect sticky footer, I turned my attention to building templates for the updated pages. I’ll discuss my adventures in templates next time. Until then, happy coding.

Tedone-BlotterWashing2-72ppiAfter five and a half productive and rewarding years, I will be leaving my position as Conservator at ISU Library one month from today. While I am excited to move on to a new opportunity at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library as Library Conservator and Affiliated Faculty in the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, my imminent departure from ISU also opens up an exciting new opportunity here for another library and archives conservator. Wrapping up long term projects and putting together a transition plan for the ISU Conservation Lab has me in a reflective mood, so I’d like to share some of the reasons that I have found my time here so rewarding.

First and foremost are the people I have worked with at ISU Library. Head of Preservation Hilary Seo has been an accessible, responsive, but hands-off supervisor who gives me free reign to run the lab my own way.  She is also a savvy mentor with a genuine, engaged commitment to the preservation profession. Conservation Technician Mindy Moeller and Preservation Assistant Mindy McCoy (“the Mindys,” as we fondly call them) take the department’s preservation mission seriously, and are also kind and personable coworkers who make it a pleasure to come to work every day. A rotating cast of student employees, volunteers, and conservation interns have kept things interesting over the years, bringing new skill sets and fresh energy to the lab. I have also had the opportunity to work closely with wonderful Special Collections colleagues, who are just steps away on the fourth floor of the Library.

 

Our window overlooking campus.  We love working in natural light, especially when color-matching repairs.

Yes, that’s right… the ISU Library Conservation Lab is up on the fourth floor, not hidden away in a windowless basement. In addition to a large window (covered with UV film, of course) that looks out over campus, the lab boasts 3,400 square feet of well-equipped workspace, offices, and storage. It’s been a pleasure to work in this bright, spacious environment. The flexibility of the lab’s supply budget has allowed me to purchase new equipment and materials, and thus try new techniques in the lab, enhancing my experience and skill set.

For me, variety is the spice of work as well as life, and the varied job duties I have fulfilled in this position have allowed me to grow my skills in multiple directions. Administratively, I have helped to develop preservation policies; worked on the shared Iowa Regent Universities library binding contract; served as an ex officio member of the Digital Archives, Repository, and Collections (DARC) team; and supervised staff and students. One of my favorite parts of this position has been supervising the annual, twelve-week Lennox Foundation Internship for Preservation Education, Training, and Outreach.  I have spent roughly half of my time at the bench, where my treatments have addressed book, paper, photographic materials, botanical specimens, and the occasional archival object. My outreach work has taken the form of lectures, webinars, consultations for other Iowa institutions and the public, and social media activities. Finally, as an Academic Librarian, I have also served on Library committees for strategic planning, policy development, and new hiring searches.

The dynamic experiences I have had at ISU Library have helped shape me professionally, and have also helped me to define my more long-term career objectives.  The community of Ames, IA, and my Library colleagues have been very good to me, for which I am deeply grateful. I wish the same good fortune to whomever my successor here will be.

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