Over the course of the semester, we will periodically be sharing blog posts from the students in Honors Seminar 321V, Smelling Old Books: The Art & Science of Preserving Our Past.  The students were asked to consider ways in which learning about heritage preservation has changed their attitude about any aspect of their relationship to the objects around them in their daily lives and habits.

From Sydney Marshall:

When I first signed up for classes for my freshman semester here at Iowa State, I was a little unsure about taking on an extra seminar my first semester. As I was signing up for classes though I realized I had open time, and once I saw that there was a class about old books, I had to sign up. I was so excited to get the chance to learn about the conservation of books and other historic material. I’m a history nerd at heart, and getting to see one of the oldest books we have here on campus was honestly one of the highlights of my time here so far. I have learned a lot about so many of the processes used to keep our books from deteriorating, but one of the most useful thing I’m going to be taking from this class is that I really need to get home and fix my picture albums!

”]”]I love the idea of keeping a record of your personal story for generations to come- throughout my life I’ve been obsessed with journals, photo albums and old home movies- especially ones that aren’t my own.  I recently discovered the Story Corps website and still haven’t quite gotten over it!  In general, the thought that my memories would deteriorate kind of scares me.  So when I heard all these horrible things that happen to pictures in albums, the first thought I had was of my own picture albums at home.  Put into old “magnetic” albums, my pictures are being held by plastic and this crazy adhesive that is turning brown.  Definitely the most valuable lesson I’ve learned from this class is the motivation to change out my pictures into a better album, so that my family’s memories won’t be forgotten in the future.

From Grace Warren:

One of my favorite activities is exploring my grandma’s attic and discovering all the amazing family history that is up there. The honors seminar, “Smelling Old Books,” has given me a totally new perspective on how we store our family treasures. It actually makes me cringe to think about some of the ways things are being stored in the attic. There’s an antique elephant toy that is sitting in a plastic garbage bag, there are old books and letters stuffed into cardboard boxes, and some things are just sitting out in the open. Not to mention that there are only screens on the windows allowing for temperature and moisture levels to change like crazy throughout the year.

Taking this class has given me new insight into how to take care of these items. I actually called my mom last week and talked to her about all the things we need to do next time we go to my grandma’s house to put the items in more protective care. I’m really glad I have learned a bit about how to take care of antiques because I definitely don’t want our family heirlooms to be destroyed due to lack of proper storage. I can’t wait to go to my grandma’s house and put my new knowledge to use!

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