Mindy McCoy


You never know what you are going to get. As an artist myself I can appreciate art books and books with unique characteristics but let me tell you that when they enter the lab we usually groan. These books are often neat and unique and creative but more often than not they just don’t hold up well. Take for instance the most recent one to enter the lab – and funny, check out the title.

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This book looked fine on the outside but when we opened it we realized the cover of this book had separated itself from the text block. A fairly easy fix by our technician and she also constructed a box for it to give it some protection since this item will be in our general collection and may get used a fair amount.

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Curious if you see items like this in your repair work and how you feel about them.

 

One thing that is very important to have in a Preservation Lab is weights.  Whether you are using them for constructing a clamshell box, help in tissue mending, flattening an adhesive bind, or weighing down a book you need some kind of weight that is versatile and portable besides a book press.  I have below the different varieties we have in our lab from sizes, heaviness, and purpose.  First I have several common ones we use in Preservation.   In the back left is an old brick covered in book cloth and next to it is an acrylic “brick.”

The rest are all filled with either 4.5 mm BBs or mini BBs.  On the right is another acrylic “block” with mini BBs in it and to its left shows a BB box, one covered in binder’s board, and the middle one covered with book cloth.  In front are 2 oz. bottles filled with both mini and 4.5 mm BBs.  The mini BB bottle weights much more than the 4.5 mm BBs.  The little flat top 2 oz. bottle are the latest additional to our weights.  We like these as they are small for little jobs yet we can stack them for more added weight.  What we don’t like is when an acrylic block is dropped to the floor, it shatters, and BBs roll everywhere in the lab and you find them for months afterwards!

Next we have cloth covered BBs, metal washers, and flexible metal strings for more sensitive work and holding down pages in a book.

Then we have heavy metal plates with handles that remind me of a bacon press, nickel-plated steel bars that are small and extremely heavy, and glass blocks with safe edges which you can see your work through.

Lastly is my collection of weights filled with 4.5 mm BBs.  Something as simple as a Beanie Baby toy can be gutted and filled, a plastic Minion toy, and even my duck needle holder has BBs in it to help hold it upright but also can be used in a very small area needing weight.  I like using the Beanie Babies when I am sewing the folios of a book back together.  This also gives you something fun to look at on your lab table and also for entertainment when guests come for a tour and I tell them to pick up a Beanie and they are surprised by the heavy weight.  And of course I must have a Baby Cy weight too!

 

 

 

 

 

Last fall we were made aware of the University’s new “mixed stream” recycling program. This new system allows for all sorts of recyclable material to go into the blue bins – newspapers, pop cans, white paper – all together in the same bin! No having to search around for the proper bin for each item.

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This got us in the Lab thinking – what about our scraps that we throw out? Can we recycle what we use? We gathered up items we use frequently in the lab that we thought might possibly be recycled and had the person in charge of the recycling team come and talk to us about these items. We were pleased to hear that much of what we use can be recycled! One of the funny things discussed was Reemay – not really recyclable we are told. Even though we know what it is and what it is made from the people at the sorting facility would most likely think that it is a dryer sheet which is not recyclable. Ha!

Reemay

Reemay

 

Here are just a few of the items that we most frequently recycle.

Colibri covers, boards, book cloth

Colibri covers, boards, book cloth

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

I am finally back from 11 weeks of maternity leave. My family welcomed beautiful Cora Leigh into the world in the early hours on January 29.

Cora

Cora

As my return got closer many people asked if I was ready to go back or commented “wouldn’t it be nice to stay home?” While I really enjoyed my time at home with Cora (and wearing yoga pants every day) many were surprised that I was ready to get back to work – I needed a routine, I missed my people, my work family. I was happy to see a pile of work waiting for me (my people need me).

Just like home where things had changed with the arrival of a baby things at work had changed some also. I returned to a dimly lit lab where our technician was working quietly at her bench while our department head typed away in her office. Our student workers had either graduated or moved on for the summer months and our conservator had moved to the east coast. It was quiet, almost like we were empty nesters.

Just as a family changes, changes are coming to this little library family I have – the students will be back before we know it (maybe even some new ones), a new conservator will join us, and we will also be welcoming a new dean of the library.

Preservation family

Preservation family

Thinking about these changes have made me realize that family is all around. Whether this is typical or not my work people are a family too. We help each other, we support each other, we work around each other’s quirks and we are there for each other on good days & bad. People come and go, additions are made, some leave forever, but most of all everyone is needed.

“Oh, what a beautiful book,” we thought when this General Collections item was given to us to work on. Oh wait! It’s not a book – it’s a box! Our excitement quickly turned into…despair? Those darn artists and publishers; don’t they think about how libraries are going to handle items like this? That’s a common thought around here – I am sure many of you have thought the same at some point.

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This item fooled us in more ways than one. Not only did we think that this item was a book, but based on the condition we thought that this was a new item as well. We soon learned that this item was actually from 1967!

Now, while the outside of the box looked to be in great shape for its age, the inside pieces were another story. While at first glance the 4 inner portfolios don’t seem to be in terrible condition, upon looking closer it was evident that there was in fact some damage. Due to the type of tape used, the adhesive has seeped through and stained the paper, failed entirely, or a combination of those on the various parts in this item. Unfortunately, there is not much we can do to correct this other than reattaching the detached items.  

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Have you seen items with similar inherent vice? Do you think the creator intended them to last longer than they did? Or maybe they were meant to have a short lifespan?

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