This time last year at Iowa State University Library, we were treating records and collection materials recovered after a water pipe burst in Special Collections during Winter Break, when the Library was closed for a week. Luckily, this small disaster occurred late in the week, and was discovered very quickly. Even so, it was not the auspicious start to the year we would have hoped for.
So far this year, we’re staying dry — almost too dry, as we deal with the outrageously low relative humidity that has accompanied the so-called “Polar Vortex” engulfing the Midwest and much of the country. Iowa temperatures have hovered just barely above or below “0” on the thermometer for weeks at a time this winter, and we’ve been keeping our humidifiers humming.
We said goodbye to student worker Devin Koch when she graduated in December, and we are sadly anticipating more goodbyes this semester. Our longtime students Ashley Arnold and Hope Mitchell have both worked in the lab for nearly four years, and are very much a part of our lab “family.” In May, Ashley will graduate with her BA in Anthropology, and Hope will complete her MA in History. They’ll be handing over the student workflow to our new hires, Bree Planica and Fang Qi Li, both of whom have been making incredible strides in developing their handskills and repair knowledge since they were hired last August.
My first major Special Collections conservation treatment project of the year is already underway, courtesy of the recent acquisition of nineteen issues of Northwestern Farmer and Horticultural Journal. This mid-19th century publication had spent many years stored in a barn, and suffers from all the attendant conservation challenges one would expect from being stored in a Midwestern barn through the changing of the seasons year after year. I’ll be posting in greater detail about the project in the coming months.
Last year, we implemented a new policy approach for so-called “medium-rare” materials (in particular, 19th and early 20th century publisher’s bindings) as they come to the lab for review or repair, and this year I’ll be turning my attention to our boxing policy, to see if there is room for comprehensive improvement or streamlined processes.
Of course, we’re also excited about this year’s Lennox Foundation Internship. We’ve just started reviewing applications, and should be making our decision over the next several weeks. As always, the candidate we select will have an impact on what projects we develop and implement this summer.
And because we work in the preservation/conservation field, we are well aware that even the best laid plans can change dramatically, as we respond to whatever disasters may arise in the year ahead.
If you haven’t yet checked in with Duke University Libraries Conservation, then head on over to Preservation Underground to find out their 2014 outlook. And may your own outlook be bright as 2014 gets underway!