Two months ago, I posted in this space about moving the Digital Collection pages over to Drupal. The pages have all been moved over now, and they are live ( In this post, I’m going to dive deeper into Drupal and explain one of the things I really like about using Drupal: the Page Tree.  When you use the Page Tree, page names become very easily identifiable. No more: .html pages. Now pages simply end with: [page name here]. The page tree method allows logical, and easy to understand organization. There are a few items to keep in mind, and I’ll explain those as we proceed.

Say you’re on Carver’s page. That URL is:

All subsequent pages associated with carver will end like this:

[carver URL]/biography

[carver URL]/resources

[carver URL]/magazine-and-journal-articles

I could have gone inside the page and drilled down further. For example, I could have had the links on the resources pages link off of the resources page. (Which would look like: /resources/magazine-and-journal-articles, signifying that it was located off the resources page, but I didn’t do that for this site.)

Here is an example of what a page tree looks like:


Notice on the page tree page, there is a list underneath the Tree icon (Home,) and then each little white triangle turns black when you open it, and shows the pages associated with it below. folder2.jpgicons (looks like a folder,) represent actual pages, where the  link2.jpg  icon (looks like a piece of chain,) represents a link. When the selected page is highlighted (here in blue,) the Page Properties are indicated for that page. Notice that the page tree pages/links are in red. Not all page trees have links this color. After the styles were added, these link turned from default black to red. I’ll have to see what happens with the links on the Special Collection as I start to style them.

I really like the Page Properties; it gives a lot of good, self-explanatory information.  Right from this window, you can Change Settings; Make a New page/link (which will become associated with this page;) Edit the page/link; Change Permissions (I strongly recommend NOT doing anything with this, unless directed by the IT department;) View the page/link; Trash the page/link. Let’s click on the Change button.


On Page Properties Change page, you can change the Visibility of the page, Nav Title, and Path. Save or Cancel, when done. Now, I am going to tell you about some things I learned when using the Nav Title/Path boxes. Say you have a title that goes like this: Pascal’s Photos & More. This is what the page tree path will appear as: pascal-s-photos—more. [Ed. Note: it will look like three dashes after photos, not one long dash.] Notice that Drupal takes out the apostrophe and “&” and replaces it with “-“. This is important to remember. It doesn’t mean you can’t have the page title be Pascal’s Photos & More, only that you will need to go into the path and manual change it to pascals-photos-more. You can take out the extra dashes and the path will still work. This is where the Change page of the Page Properties really become useful. The Visibility box is useful as well. Checking it off makes the become “invisible” to the public. You can still “see” the page, when you are logged in, under the Page Tree. And if you have that page linked on other Drupal pages, it will still be linked for use. This comes in handy when you have a lot of pages and you only want some to show when the menu is displayed. Here is an example of an invisible page in the page tree:


The link is grey, and italicized, to indicate invisibility.

OK, let’s click Cancel on the Page Properties page to back up. There is one more feature I will share today in Drupal that is handy in a pinch. (And goodness knows, I’ve been in a pinch once or twice…or, well, never mind.) When logged in to make changes on the Drupal pages, there are few tabs across the top of each page.


View, Edit, Revisions, Permissions, Drafts. Let’s look quickly at Revisions.


What a wonderful feature. A real lifesaver, believe you, me! If you goof-up on a page you can easily go back in time and select the revision you need, whether a minute ago, or last week. This is a nice way to work, and fairly worry free. That makes working with Drupal pretty fool-proof. Which is why so many people are able to use Drupal without much training at all.

A few weeks ago the Iowa State University Library implemented a new policy concerning food in the building. Previously food was only allowed in a handful of designated areas of the library. Well now you can enjoy that bagel & cinnamon roll pretty much anywhere in the library except for the 4th floor. Why not the 4th floor – what’s so special about the 4th floor you ask? Well that happens to be where we (the Preservation department) and Special Collections and University Archives are located. We are hoping that this will help in protecting our unique collections that are housed on the 4th floor from unwanted critters. So far we have only encountered a handful of patrons who seemed oblivious to the numerous signs & table tents so I would count this as a success so far!

No Food


Here in the Preservation Department at Iowa State University we rely on our student employees to help with many tasks and projects around the department.  Usually the students are trained on how to do anywhere from minor repairs to full sewing and new book case repairs, to packing/unpacking books for the bindery shipment, searching the stacks for missing items, or scanning projects.  When they come to the Preservation Department after first hired they are trained on how to do some of the simpler things in the lab such as cutting and gluing tissues on to ends sheets, disbinds, tip-ins, etc. until their skill levels improve so they can do the more complicated treatments such as rebacks, full repairs, recases, sewing a book back together, and new cases, and if they are here long enough they will learn how to construct clamshell boxes or other specialty boxes.

In the past we have had our Conservator interview and hire the students and currently we are waiting for our new Conservator, Sonya Barron, to start on December 1, 2015.  Some of my job duties have changed so I will be doing the interviewing and hiring instead of just training the students.  We like to get students early enough in their educational career here at ISU as a freshman or sophomore because we invest a great deal of time training, and the experience with eye-hand coordination takes time to develop and perfect.  We would prefer students to work over the summer months too.

Another new thing we are adding this time to our student schedules here in the Preservation Department is that the students will be “floaters” and will be crossed-trained to work in all areas of the Preservation Department.  This way when we lose a student to other employment elsewhere or to graduation we don’t have to hurry and hire someone to take their place.  If a student is ill or miss work because of a class then we can still get scheduled work done with the bindery shipment and the aid of another cross-trained student. One of our existing students will be able to jump right in and do the tasks needed such as helping to pack books going out to the bindery and keep the work moving.

One of my favorite challenges when doing full repairs is being able to save unique end sheets. My first experience with this did not look very clean and since I have always accepted the challenge to make it better. The end sheets for the Big Book were especially unique. They were made from a heavier, more brittle paper and decorated with using a pale olive and tan along with the saying, “your story in pictures leaves nothing untold.”

First, the halves of the end sheets that were pastedowns had to be lifted up from the board (starting from the inside) about one inch away from the center. Before the linen is applied to the text block, the free endpapers are cleaned (the cracking edges needed to be mended before any ‘saving’ could be done) and then hinged onto the text block. After the linen and liner have both been applied, PVA is placed along the inside joint of the case. The text block is then placed in the case and then into a press with rods along the outside joints.

After being in the press for about fifteen minutes, the book is then opened and the edges of the linen are placed under the lifted portion of the pastedown endpapers on both sides. If they are too large, they should be trimmed down to fit nicely when the book is closed. Finally the linen and the lifted endpaper are glued down with PVA and lightly pressed. To cover the portion of the linen still visible, tissue is applied along the inside joint. I’ve found it easier to fold the tissue in half, one half being twice as wide as the other, a 2:1 ratio. This way, when PVA is applied to smaller half it is easier to place it straight, with the folded edge fitting into the joint. Using a thin lifting bone folder, I press the tissue into the joint, gluing it onto the free endpaper. I can then use PVA the apply glue to the larger half and simply press this up and over the joint and onto the pastedown endpaper. I’ve found that this helps the tissue to become more manageable and lie in a straighter line and, ultimately, the saved end sheets look much nicer.


Finally, I was able to work on the outside of the book. The case of the Big Book was somewhat damaged, but not too bad. Using a mixture of PVA and Wheat Starch Paste (WSP) [2:1 respectively], I applied glue directly onto the damaged areas of the case. I then placed black tissue, pre-cut with frayed edges, over the corners, rims, joints and any other areas that needed a cover or reinforcement. I gently pressed the tissue into the case with my fingers, careful not to pull apart the tissue, and then added more of the glue onto the edges of the recently placed tissue. Using Remay scraps, I gently smoothed the fanned edges of the tissue outward, giving the repair a less noticeable look.



The Big Book allowed me to continue to adapt to the many ways we can approach problems here in the conservation lab. I’m always trying new things, such learning about the Oxford hollow and how to repair damage to the outside case, as well as refining older techniques, such as saving end sheets.


One of the best things about working at in the conservation lab at ISU is that I come into contact with such a wide variety of books. When choosing items from the shelf I rarely pick them in the order they came in. I tend to take into account the size, condition, color, subject and even language of the book. Art books tend to be larger and usually have nicer end sheets that I like to save. Larger books can be more challenging when cleaning and putting the item back together. Thinner children’s books will sometimes require a board backing along the spine. Sometimes a book just brings to mind a fond memory.

This big book reminded me of something straight out of the 1994 film, Pagemaster. Printed in 1927, the cover was thick and plushy between the board and fabric. An eagle was depicted on the front amidst a decorative background. The end sheets were decorated with using a pale olive and tan along with the saying, “your story in pictures leaves nothing untold.” On the inside, the book was filled with beautiful imagery as it was about photo-engraving and letter-press printing. IMG_0763a

After opening the book, I spent a couple of minutes looking it over and eventually decided to ask Mindy (our technician) a couple of questions. I wanted to make sure that I was approaching the problem correctly. She told me that the spine used to have a special liner called an Oxford hollow and that I could recreate it when repairing the book. Oxford hollows were used to provide strong support to the spine, allowing heavier books to be opened fully. a

That sounds simple enough, right?

Cleaning this book was somewhat of a challenge because the glue had really gotten stuck between the threading. Once cleaned though, the Oxford hollow itself, was really easy to put together and apply. It is made from two sheets of a heavier paper, one cut to the exact height and width and the other cut to one time the height and three times the width.

IMG_0744a IMG_0745a 

After the text block is prepared, tissue and linen are in place, the smaller liner is glued onto the spine with PVA directly on the spine and Wheat Starch Paste (WSP) smoothed on the top. The larger cut piece of paper is folded at one end 2cm short of the width. From that fold, another fold is made the exact width away. This is then glued onto the spine directly with PVA (the center section is glued first, so a flap should be hanging from either end of the spine) and WSP on top. When this has dried, the smaller flap is folded in first and the longer flap is glued on top (note: the smaller flap is not glued onto the spine). When this has dried any excess material is cut from the side. The end result should look like a thinly pressed tube along the spine.



Creating the hollow was only one of three main repairs I encountered with this book. In my next blog post I will talk about preserving the end sheets and cleaning up/repairing damage to the outside of the book.


Pt. 2

– saving the end sheets

– tissue to the outside


So, remember back to May 19 of this year when I began talking about creating templates in Dreamweaver, and again on July 21, when I blogged part two of that series? And also remember how I drone on about technology always changing?

Well…. Throw those two blogs out the window and digest this: I am no longer using Dreamweaver to make our webpages. Our library has moved to Drupal for content-based webpages. And in doing so, I needed to learn it quick. Now, granted, I was given a great deal of leeway as to when to implement this for our pages. I could wait a year. But I had my own agenda. Not only did I need to move Digital Collection pages over, but also Special Collection pages. And I set my timeline to be the end of 2015. Well…why not?

Let me take this blog space to begin talking about Drupal, and my first impressions.

First, the benefit for the library is that more departments are allowed to contribute their own content, instead of having someone from IT doing it, thereby causing a delay in getting the information up to researchers. Because Digital Collections and Special Collections has been creating their own pages for several years now, we were made the testing team to see if we could get this done, and how long it would take. (We meaning: me. I have all but taken over maintaining the Special Collection pages. Brad Kuennen has taken on more responsibilities, leaving most of the fun work to me. Yea ME!)

But back to self-authoring. This is a good thing for a large portion of library departments. Allowing each department to design and implement their pages grants those departments to update their information on the fly and this pretty awesome too.

Plus, to have “templates” in place helps to maintain the overall layout theme of the university. In having a consistent design, every page of the university appears more uniform. Then there is the concept of responsive design. I myself have had issues with this very thing in the past. This is where Drupal comes in and does the heavy lifting. Once you’ve created a page, it automatically makes it responsive. In other words, whether displayed on desktop or mobile device, or tablet, the page will be displayed in the best possible manner. The image(s) will shrink down to the appropriate size and what is called a hamburger will appear (typically in the upper left or right hand corner of the page,) for the drop-down menu.


(This is what a “hamburger” looks like on a sized-down, (read: mobile) responsive page. It squishes a menu down into the three horizontal line icon; when you tap on it, it drops the menu down; again, it usually appears on mobile-designed pages.)

So, what does that mean for designing pages going forward then? Well, a lot of things. First of all, because our library has a great library-external, but on-campus, support from the ITUIS department, I don’t have to worry about consistency across web browsers as I had to in the past. The ITUIS department has worked those issues out with Drupal already. We don’t have to re-invent the wheel here; they follow ISU template guidelines and work from there. Thankfully, because Digital Collections and Special Collections are on a separate server, this allows us to maintain our sites separately, which in turn gives us even greater control over the design and layout of our pages. But what does that really mean? There are differences; let’s take a look.

Here’s our old page on desktop, created in Dreamweaver:


And here’s the new, created in Drupal:


The first obvious difference is the spacing in the vertical menu on the left. Drupal doesn’t allow close spacing (at least on the theme that ISU maintains.) The slider image is wider, but height is narrower; and the dark boxes are no longer as clearly separated (no white line between them.) These images are both pretty similar on tablets; the only difference being that for Drupal, the menu runs a little longer down the side, and the boxes on bottom are clearly separated:


BUT, take a look at the portrait view layout on a tablet.

Old Home (Dreamweaver) on mobile and tablet, portrait view:


(In portrait, you just get a piece of the image, as it is a fixed layout. This is a desktop view of mobile device. An actually mobile device would cut off the top of the second box; but the layout is identical.)

New Home (Drupal) on tablet, portrait view:


(A lot better separation here, plus no cut-off of images.

And New Home (Drupal) on mobile:


The point is Drupal makes designing responsive pages pretty easy. The most intensive part was copy and pasting the pages over from Dreamweaver, and constantly contacting the ITUIS department to get the styles displaying correctly. I’m glad I started with the smaller Digital Collection site however, because when we attempted to make the new pages go live, everything was defaulting to a wrong URL link. First, we thought we were going to need to manually re-mapped all the pages to the new pages, so that old URLs would bounce to the new page URL. Now, ITUIS has stepped in and indicated they will be able to solve this issue using another tool. We will have to monitor this unfolding drama and we will have to think it through for the larger Special Collection pages.

The time had come, our trusty ol’ guillotine could no longer be called trusty since a part had been recalled which made our machine not usable. This beast had been with the lab for quite sometime and had been used almost daily. We were a bit sad to see it go but it’s time had come.

Our old guillotine

Our old guillotine

Skip ahead 4+ months and we finally received our new Titan 265. We were all very excited at it’s arrival! It took 4 guys a full day to disassemble the old guillotine, haul it out and bring in and assemble the new one.

Disassembling the old guillotine.

Disassembling the old guillotine.


Assembling the new machine.

Assembling the new machine.

The new machine has a digital screen which is new to us. We have the option of turning the dial to set the gauge on where to cut or we can punch the number in on the screen. And it can do the math for us if needed – for example – if we are wanting to cut streamers from a stack of 8.5×11 paper we can type in 8.5/5 and it will cut 5 equal stacks for us! So neat! This one is also quite a bit quieter than our last one which our ears thank us for.


Training was really quite simple, with the new touch screen most of it is self explanatory. We were all anxious to give it a try!

Getting trained on the new machine.

Getting trained on the new machine.

Hilary giving it a try.

Hilary giving it a try.

We have only had it for a couple of weeks but we have already put it to good use chopping away – here’s hoping for many more years with Mr. Titan!




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