While we try to give you a regular glimpse into the workings of the ISU Library Preservation Lab through this blog, we are also part of a larger preservation community in Iowa.  This post, the second in our collaborative 1091 Project with Duke University Libraries Preservation Department,  puts our university lab into a statewide context.  Be sure to visit Preservation Underground for a similarly informative look at the broader North Carolina preservation community.

We hope some day to have conservation colleagues over at the Textiles and Clothing Conservation Lab in Morrill Hall, just a few yards away from Parks Library.  In the meantime, Research Associate Suzanne LeSar uses the lab as a staging area for her work with the textiles and clothing collection.  You can read about our tour last summer of the Textiles and Clothing Conservation Lab here.

We’re lucky to have a group of wonderful colleagues a few hours’ drive away in Iowa City, at the University of Iowa Preservation Department and at the Center for the Book.  Under the guidance of bookbinder and conservator Gary Frost and papermaker Tim Barrett (recipient of a 2009 MacArthur Genius Grant) , the Center for the Book provides a locus for Midwestern book artists, printmakers, and papermakers.

Our department frequently consults and collaborates with our Preservation Department counterparts at the University of Iowa, led by Head of Preservation Nancy Kraft.  Last year, we worked with the U of I Preservation Department and the University of Northern Iowa Library (which has no preservation department of its own) to revise the RFP for the commercial binding contract shared by all three regent universities.  Working via email, conference calls, and in-person meetings, we worked together to revise the RFP, choose a binder, and iron out the details of the contract which will serve us all for the next 3 to 7 years.

Just an hour away in Des Moines, colleagues at the State Historical Society, Museum, and Conservation lab are also active in the Iowa preservation community.  State Historic Preservation Officer Jerome Thompson and Objects Conservator Pete Sixbey are both important contacts for us.  Paper conservator Sarah Raithel recently returned to Iowa after graduating from the Buffalo State College Art Conservation program in 2011.  She is currently contracted to treat some Civil War era materials for the State Historical Society, and is also in the process of setting up a private practice.

The Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium (ICPC), administered by Lucy David, holds an  annual meeting and also offers workshops throughout the year.  Our staff attend the annual meeting each year, and have also sometimes contributed to the programming.

For the past few years, our Head of Preservation, Hilary Seo, and I have been actively involved with the planning and execution of programming funded by an IMLS Connecting to Collections (CTC) grant written by Nancy Kraft and Jerome Thompson.  Hilary and I serve on the CTC committee along with Lucy David of ICPC and a handful of other consultants which include librarians, curators, and administrators from institutions around Iowa.  After the massive flooding in eastern Iowa in 2008, the focus of this project shifted to state-wide disaster preparedness.  We have given presentations around the state to raise awareness and emphasize the importance of having a disaster plan.  We’re also gearing up for a two-day workshop in April offering training in disaster planning, working with FEMA, using D-Plan, performing salvage triage, and hands-on salvage techniques.

While the density of preservation and conservation programs is much higher in my native Northeast, I  consider myself very lucky to be part of this small but committed preservation community in Iowa.  If you haven’t yet, be sure to visit Preservation Underground’s latest 1091 Project post to learn about the North Carolina preservation community.