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At the bench

Hi! My name is Emilie Duncan, and I am the 2017 Lennox conservation intern. I come to Iowa from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC), by way of Charlottesville, Virginia, where I just completed my third year internship at the University of Virginia Library. Although technically I do not graduate with my Library and Archival Materials Conservation degree until later in August, the completion of my internship year is a major achievement and I am viewing this internship at ISU as my first post-graduate professional position. I was drawn to this internship because of the collections here at Parks Library, which include a wide range of archival materials, rare books, and objects. I studied Historic Preservation in undergrad, and from this gained an interest in historical objects of use as well as architectural and technical drawings. This internship will allow me to gain additional experience with these types of materials in an academic library setting.

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Reviewing materials for a library exhibit with an online component

I am just getting started here at ISU, but I already have several treatment and non-treatment projects going, which I will be writing about in future posts. Part of my learning experience here will be simply understanding how the lab works and how the workflows are adapted to the specific collections and user population at Iowa State. By comparing and contrasting this information with other conservation labs I have worked in and will work in, I can gain insight that will help me make the most of my environments in the future.

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First treatment, generated by a patron’s digitization order

I am really looking forward to settling into the flow of the lab and exploring campus and beautiful Ames (although I will admit I am glad I won’t be here to experience an Iowan winter!) You will hear from me again soon!

On June 1, 2017, I began my 32nd year at the ISU Library. In the early years, my job morphed from a documents librarian to a Reference Librarian with instruction and collection development duties. At the turn of the century, yes the 21st one, I added oversight for the library building including safety and security to my repertoire. Then in 2008, I dropped the reference/instruction aspects to concentrate on the library spaces. Over the past three years, I have been focused on the development of our library spaces feasibility plan and now the upcoming restroom renovations.

With nearly 20 years of experience with the building, I thought I knew the library physical spaces inside and out. But during last two architect tours of the building, I discovered new places and learned interesting tidbits about the building.

During tours of the mechanical/electrical rooms, I noticed that workers used walls for their scratch paper. Various calculations and notes were written presumably for the operations of the machinery located in these spaces as shown in photographs below

20170615_093231Measurements for panels

20170615_093129More measurements

20170615_093223Simplified schematic of the electrical circuitry for a water valve

Another one of my interesting finds in a mechanical room was a set of pipes that at first glance looked like plumbing pipes. But if you know plumbing, a “y” joint is never used for joining in two pipes coming in opposite directions. So what was this set of pipes? Well, the original building had a feature that many homeowners would love to have…centralized vacuum system. The second photo shows a  capped opening in the Periodical Room.

20170615_093136“Y” joint for the centralized vacuum system

20170706_080830Capped opening for centralized vacuum system

In many of the mechanical/electrical rooms, I discovered evidence of the original building which was concealed by the new construction needed for the 1960’s additions. The original building material was the large slabs of limestone in these photographs.

20170706_081700  Original building in a mechanical room

20170615_100240  Original building in an electrical room

During the next few years as the library undergoes a revitalization of its physical spaces, I wonder what else will be undercovered, revealed, or exposed. Stay tuned.

There are many things that go into what we call “job satisfaction”. These things differ from individual to individual.  Some of us may be looking for innovation and for a challenge. Others want to feel that they are a part of a team. Still others want to be left alone to do their work so that they can experience their “flow”.  Looking around my office today, I was reminded of the things that make my job satisfying to me.

I feel that my family is always at work with me (in a good way!), it’s a family-friendly culture. It is understood that our lives at home matter. Being able to devote our time and energy to our “other” lives after work makes us better employees. Friendlier, more enthusiastic, more relaxed and, consequently, better-functioning in stressful situations. Not having to worry about taking off time to take my kid to the dentist or to go to a school conference gives me peace of mind that feeds back into my work.

Another thing that I feel lucky about at work is that I am encouraged to carve out time for treatment. Yeah yeah yeah, we all know it’s easier said than done. But receiving validation in this elusive pursuit keeps me trying. I love treatment! Most of us got into this profession because we wanted to be at the bench. Which is a hard place to stay, if you ever started your career there in the first place. But like I said – I keep on trying. For me, treatment is work, fun and therapy all rolled into one. So heck, I am certainly motivated!

We spend more time at work than we do at home with our loved ones. We’ve got to make sure that we enjoy it, as much as possible!

 

A Cute Little Box

There are days when you see something and you just need to make a box for it. We had a punch set that we use in box making and its outer wrapper of hard clear plastic was falling apart with broken edges of sharp rough plastic. It definitely needed to be tossed. I like to keep up on my box making skills so a quick box was in order.

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When I am making boxes one of my favorite book cloths to work with is Canapetta Natural. I like the feel, look, and workability of this book cloth.

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I used Velcro coins (dots) to hold the box securely shut when not in use. The black foam insert and cover label that was in the plastic box easily transferred over to this new box. If this box needed to be used for something else or we purchase a bigger punch set, this box can be easily converted to its next job. Now I won’t worry about losing punch pieces!

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Just recently we received six volumes of the Ms. Marvel comics. These are an interesting addition to the collection here at Parks Library. It isn’t often that we receive comics like these, but there is a small collection of comics located at Parks. These six comics have been treated with a shield bind to help protect the books on the shelves.

The Superhero genera of comic books is always an interesting read. In this new series Ms. Marvel is a superhero from a new age, and the books themselves are an interesting read. Their art has a healthy amount of silly and seriousness, making the volumes a good light hearted read.

The usefulness of keeping these volumes around is often times not known. Since Iowa State has a very well-known Design college, and comics are a form a literature, multiple colleges on campus benefit from keeping up a modern collection to help students learn and understand the current techniques.

 

Anyone that know me knows how I love rice krispie treats and many years ago I made a batch and ate them all in one day. The next day my mouth was so sore from the abrasive nature of the rice krispies but I just couldn’t help myself. You only do that once. So recently I had a project to work on that was tempting as it still smelled good after 16 years from when first made. It was the World’s Largest Cereal Treat, Rice Krispies Treat confirmed by the Guinness World Records on Friday, April 20, 2001 during Veishea, a campus wide celebration.

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies were developed in 1927. What is really interesting is that the rice krispie treat was invented by an Iowa State University alumna, a 1928 graduate of College of Home Economics Mildred Day along with co-worker Malitta Jensen while working at Kellogg’s and used the marshmallow treat as a fundraiser for the Camp Fire Girls shortly after its invention in the 1930s. The “marshmallow squares” were revealed to the public market in the 1940s with its recipe published on a cereal boxes in 1941.Image result for mildred day rice krispies treats Mildred Day

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Image result for mildred day rice krispies treats

Image result for mildred day rice krispies treats

Iowa State University was able to smash the current record holder of a 2,260 pound treat set in October 1997 at Michigan State University. After many batches of treats were made they ended up with a 2,480 pound treat from 818 pounds of Rice Krisipies, 1,466 pounds of marshmallows, and 217 pounds of butter. Image result for mildred day rice krispies treats

After the treat was made it was weighed in at the Physical Plant with cameras marking the progress all along the event. Following the Veishea Parade, the treat was sold on central campus with proceeds given to the Youth & Shelter Services in Ames.

So there’s the history on the Rice Krisipie Treats now back to the one sitting on my desk. I needed to have it go through our freezer process to eliminate any “bug or mold” potential, then I encapsulated it, carved out a bed in Ethaform then lined the bottom with Volara, and added a sewing cloth tape tab to lift it out of the box. This way it is much easier and safer to handle and protected from the elements of storage.

And if you don’t have the time or patience to make the crispy treats you can purchase them premade on your grocery store shelves.  I enjoy them from the Parks Library’s Bookends Café as they are a regular treat made through ISU Dining.

Image result for 40 Bars Rice Krispies TreatsImage result for Kellogg's Rice Crispy Treats

And for those who can’t get enough of the flavor of marshmallows and Rice Krispies.Rice Krispies Treats Flavored Lip Balm

So there you have probably more information than you ever imagined about the famous Guinness World’s Record holding Iowa State University’s 2001 Rice Krispie Treat and Mildred Day, ISU alumna and inventor.  This item can be viewed at the Parks Library in the Special Collections and University Archives Department.  Now I’m hungry for one!

 

 

A few weeks ago I co-taught a workshop at MAC, Midwest Archives Conference in Omaha, NE. I worked together with two lovely colleagues from the University of Kansas – Conservator of Special Collections Angela Andres and Assistant Conservator Roberta Woodrick.

The workshop was called Exhibit Support Basics: Solutions for Small Institutions and Small Budgets. Our group of 9 participants included librarians, archivists and one registrar. They came from institutions ranging from the Midwest Archaeological Center in Lincoln, Nebraska to Minnesota State University Library.

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During the workshop we presented demos of 2 variations on an exhibit support for a flat item and one model of a book cradle. Both were made from mat board. The participants fearlessly forged on, showing confidence with blades and rulers. All of them said that they had never used bone folders and scalpels before! Several of the ladies remarked on how good it felt to work with their hands and how satisfying it was to be able to complete a finite project.

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Participants hard at work on their book cradles

Here are some anonymous comments from our students, as reported in the online workshop evaluation survey:

“Presenters were great. They spoke about realistic solutions to challenges. The hands on component was very valuable.”

“I could see this being a whole-day workshop, covering even more exhibit support ideas.”

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Examples of completed work

Angela wrote about this very same workshop on the KU blog