Exhibit


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

 

 

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One of the items that was used for the current Special Collections and University Archives ISU Pammel Court exhibit (designed by the History 481x class) is this little book. For the exhibit they wanted to show both the cover and one of the interior pages displayed as one piece.

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With a quick sketch I came up with this:

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I then had to think about how to hold the book up so it didn’t slide off the display wedge.

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And then I had to figure out the dimensions….hmmmm…..

I drew out the 45 degree template and put the spine of the book along the diagonal. I went up about ¾ of the way and dropped a line down to the base. That gave me the measurements for the angled front piece, the back and the base.

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I extended the base measurement out to make the lip that holds the book.

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Then transferred all those measurements to a scrap piece of scrap board. Base, front, back, base with extension, face for book stop wedge, the piece the book will rest against, and the inner base to tape down.

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I took those measurements and laid them out on the mat board and scored the lines about ¾ of the way through on what will be the bottom side of the base and added a piece of double stick tape to hold the book stop and inner base to the larger base.

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And removed the little bit that wasn’t needed.

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Double stick tape was used to hold the lip and the bottom pieces of the book support together after the book stop had already been folded and taped down.

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This is what the final piece looked like from the side…

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and from the front with a copy of the selected page.

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This past week a new exhibit opened in Parks Library’s Special Collections and University Archives reading room. It is called “For Married Students”: Building a Community in Pammel Court, 1946-1978. The exhibit tells the story of a housing development that was built on Iowa State University grounds to accommodate  student veterans of WWII  and their young families, as part of the GI bill.

exhibitprep9     exhibitprep8

The Preservation Department staff worked hard to fabricate mat board exhibit mounts for the items to be displayed. Jim Wilcox and I set out to make a simple slanted mat board book cradle. We were attracted to using mat board because it is easy to manipulate and recycle afterward.  It turned out the task was not actually that simple! The slanted cradle needed to be quite strong to withstand the weight of the heavy book.

We looked at an article that provided details for construction of a cloth covered slanted cradle. (Andersen, Jennifer, Cloth Covered Book Cradles, Abbey Newsletter, Volume 17, Number 7, December 1993, http://cool.conservation-us.org/byorg/abbey/an/an17/an17-7/an17-715.html).

This is an excellent design, which has been used by many institutions for years,  but we still hoped to find a solution that was a little less labor-intensive.

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We started with the tried and true model of two wedges on a base, using museum-grade mat board and double-sided 3M 415 tape. Then Jim added another wedge to the bottom of the base to slant the cradle forward.

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A small triangular ledge is built into the base, it keeps the book from sliding  off the cradle. The tricky part was to keep this ledge securely attached to the rest of the cradle. The answer was…..drum roll….wait for it –  yes, book cloth! Not so revolutionary after all, I know!

But in this version, the book cloth is almost entirely concealed in between the various parts of the cradle. Pale tan Cotlin book cloth was attached to the cradle itself and to the wedge base that elevates the cradle, then wrapped around the ledge. Cloth is only exposed on that narrow triangular support ledge on the front of the cradle.

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I used PVA to adhere the book cloth to the mat board and let the cradle off-gas for 2 weeks prior to installing it into the exhibit case.

Aside from the fun and excitement with the cradle, I became acquainted with a wonderful piece of equipment – the rotary cutter. We had lots of exhibit labels to cut out and the rotary cutter was excellent for making 90 degree cuts without the combined effort of lining up the paper, holding down the ruler and minding the scalpel. A plastic bar holds down your paper and a sharp blade makes the perfectly straight cut for you. It’s like a mat cutter for paper! The roatry cutter comes in a large size too, so for lightweight materials it can be a good alternative to a board shear.

exhibitprep2      exhibitprep1

Learn more about our new exhibit by checking out the links below.

Publicity article:

http://www.inside.iastate.edu/article/2017/01/19/pammel

Article about curating the exhibit:

http://www.iowastatedaily.com/ames247/article_e6b0e76c-bc29-11e6-83b2-c72d80011232.html

Photos from the exhibit reception:

http://www.iowastatedaily.com/ames247/collection_884277bc-ddfe-11e6-9272-6f8ae44f9de6.html#1

I’ve spent most of my last few months working on a project for the new ISU Extension Collection. The basic layout sounds simple enough: create a timeline for the important dates that this particular collection focuses on. The dates were not too far apart: 1900-1924. I’ve have seen a lot of web pages that incorporated timelines and I was excited to add this new skill to my tools. I did an online search of “timelines,” and got a whole gamut of ideas and tools.  I also started to see a basic pattern to all these timelines:

 

tl0

Basic.

 

tl2

Step up.

 

More modern.

More modern.

 

High tech.

High tech.

Google also has a timeline program. It is very similar to the High Tech version, only with a light background. But, as with most of these programs, you need to upload your information and it gets stored their servers. What happens if something happens to that program in the future? Also, all of these options take up the whole webpage to display the timeline. I wanted a timeline that was incorporated into the rest of my page, a piece of a larger puzzle on the page.

I decided to get a little more creative and put a timeline on an actual image. I had the image already in hand. I just needed a part of that image turned into a timeline, while the rest of it linked to other pages. As it turns out, there is no easy way to create a timeline on image, (I suppose if you were a hardcore programmer with mad skills, you probably could knock one out.) I don’t consider myself a complete slouch when it comes to coding, but come on, it shouldn’t be that hard to make a timeline on a relatively straight, long image. I have a hard time believing I’m the first person who wants to do such a thing. Yet, with every link clicked, none of the code and options I came across showed me how to do this. I asked myself exactly what it was I wanted to do. Well, I reasoned that the closest thing I could think of was that I was trying to create a customizable popup, or mouseover or hover-over a place on an image. Searching for that, I found several javascript codes for making pop-ups over links and/or images, which looked pretty much like tooltips on steroids. Tooltip is an alt code you can put into your html to create an effect so that when you hover your mouse over an image or link, a little yellow box pops up after a short time, giving information.

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Example of tooltip code in action.

I have created tooltips for our drop-down menus to indicate who certain significant people are.  I have also created tooltips to give information about certain images on pages.

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After discovering that it might be possible to create tooltips for a timeline, I became a little more excited.  I’m not one to toot other people’s horns, but http://www.dynamicdrive.com/ has awesome, easy-to-use, customizable code. It’s all free, as long as you include their legal notice within your code. There are two other sources that I recommend for helping in creating web pages and learning programs: http://www.lynda.com/(NOTE: not a completely free site) and http://www.w3schools.com/(the best resource for html and css, with an added bonus of sandboxing to see effects). I cannot recommend these sites enough to help get you through common webpage issues.

So, here we go. Searching on the dynamicedrive.com site opened the door to some fantastic ideas to noodle on, but how could I get a timeline actually placed on the chosen image? What I ended up doing was way old school: I made an image map. However, I didn’t do it with Adobe Photoshop. I did it online with Easy Imagemap Generator (http://imagemap-generator.dariodomi.de). (Yes, that is actually its name… and yes, it is EASY.) You do, however, need to have Flash Player for this to work. After going to the webpage, there is an option to upload the image or insert the image link URL.

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Upon doing this, it automagically loads your image. Just click +Add Area and start clicking on the image, making boxes, circles, or polygons around the areas you want to create into links. There are also buttons on this page that are marked X Clear All, and Change Image. Every time you want a new linked area, just click on the +Add Area button and move back into the image to create a new linked area. Once you are done with with all your linked areas, you will notice the code text is displayed at the bottom.  You can have as many linked areas as you want; I believe I had around twenty linkable areas on my image.  This is a very basic example of the code text:

<img src=”url/to/your/image.jpg” alt=”” usemap=”#Map” />

<map name=”Map” id=”Map”>

<area alt=”” title=”” href=”#” shape=”poly” coords=”134,276,150,292,122,297,111,287,119,279″ />

[…]

</map>

This is the code you will need to put into your html to make the areas you created linkable for the mouse-over pop-up box. There are many things you can do with this code to create the kind of links you want. I just selected all this code and copied and pasted it over into my html following where my image was placed on the page.

Next, I headed over to dynamicdrive.com and clicked on “Links & Tooltips.” This took me to a page with several different snippets to experiment with. Notice how after the links, it lists the browser compatibility. Remember to test your code in different browsers anyway!  The one I used was suppose to work in FF, so when it didn’t, I knew I had a code error somewhere. Once I found the code I liked, I clicked on the link, and it took me to the actual code page. From there, it goes step-by-step through the process, even allowing downloading of necessary .js and .css files. My particular code did not need separate .css or .js files, so I just coped and pasted into my document. At the end of the code, there is typically a section on modifying the settings. All in all, it was a very easy way to get the code I wanted and place it in my webpage. My html code ended up looking something like this:

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If you notice, since I am using an image map, I needed to tweak a few settings here and there to make the image map display the tooltip script correctly. The code I used on dynamicdrive.com was called “Cool DTML Tooltip II,” and what is there is slightly different from what I ended up using. Using it exactly as it is on that site resulted in no text popping up, even though the boxes themselves were appearing. It took me a while to figure out that i n order for the area shape to have the desired effect, I needed to put the area shape outside the ONMOUSEOVER code. (In other words, I couldn’t place it before the closing />.) Also, notice that my first area code is different from the second, and subsequent, codes. I had to do this in order for the desired effect to work in Firefox. I believe I had to do this because I had several clickable areas on one large image, instead of several smaller images all together.  Whatever the reason, I did get the effect to work in the end by altering the code in this way. I changed the color of the pop-up background and text size and style in the css. (The ddrivetip used “dhtmltooltip.”) Also, you can make the tooltip linkable. I did not do this for my timeline, but it is possible.

This is an example of the final results:

imagemap

In conclusion, I felt this was a better approach than the other official applications. It allowed me to customize the timeline to fit the needs of the project. It may not be a timeline in the strictest capacity, but I believe it satisfies the requirements for this particular collection.

Light is very important to conservation labs: the right amount of the right kind of light particularly influences fine detail work and color matching. However, as anyone familiar with preservation issues knows, light is also The Enemy.  Damaging UV light may be the part of the spectrum that gets the most attention, but any light causes cumulative damage to paper-based materials over time.

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The lab’s oversized window is coated with UV-filtering film, but all light causes some level of damage to paper-based materials.

Our lab workspace is mainly lit by overhead fluorescents with UV filters on them.  Likewise, our large, lovely window is also covered with UV-filtering film.  We store our colored tissues in flat files nearby, so it’s easy to hold them up to the window and take advantage of the natural light when selecting the right color for a repair.

Allen, Sue. American Book Covers, 1830–1900. Washington: Library of Congress, 1998. Leaflet LC 1.6/4:AM 3/2.

Allen, Sue. American Book Covers, 1830–1900. Washington: Library of Congress, 1998. Leaflet LC 1.6/4:AM 3/2.

In spite of our precautions regarding UV filters, the lab is still flooded with more light than is safe for paper-based materials over the long term, as the framed poster above regularly reminds us.  The colors have faded and shifted over time, simply from being exposed to the ambient light we need to do our daily work.

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Another reminder of the amount of light exposure in the lab: this archival document box we use to store lab materials has also shifted color over time!

Aware of light’s insidious and relentless power, we take whatever precautions we can when working with Special Collections and Archives materials in the lab by covering them up with an enclosure, sheet of blotter, or other light-blocker when we are not actively working on them.

As part of our responsibilities as a land grant institution, we are charged with providing education and outreach services to the public. In the lab, this charge manifests as preservation consultations for Iowa residents and institutions.  When it comes to light exposure, we strongly encourage our visitors not to display treasured, original photographs or documents from their personal collections in heavily used or brightly lit rooms. Light damage is irreversible, so the precautions are worthwhile. Originals may be stored in enclosures or in dark drawers or cabinets, and displayed only on special occasions. Alternatively, originals may be scanned and a surrogate printed for display purposes, while the original is stored safely out of the light. If originals must be displayed, then we strongly recommend framing with a UV-filtering plexi, with the caveat that this will only partially mitigate one form of light damage.

Recently, I attended the Care of Historic Scrapbooks workshop taught by Jennifer Hain Teper at the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies in Mt. Carroll, IL.

Jennifer Hain Teper lectures on the preservation challenges particular to scrapbooks as composite objects made up of many different types of materials.

The Head of Conservation at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (which, full disclosure, is where I performed the third-year conservation internship required by my conservation study program), Jennifer generously shared her experiences working with UIUC’s extensive scrapbook collection.  The workshop at the Campbell Center lasted two full days, with lectures and discussion in the mornings, and hands-on training in the afternoons.

Hence the name: an example of a true “scrapbook,” made up of scraps of fabric and paper clippings adhered to the pages of a wallpaper sample book.

In addition to an overview of the common materials and preservation challenges of scrapbooks as artifacts, Jennifer presented us with a case study of a scrapbook assessment and treatment project performed at UIUC.  Jennifer shared her projected and actual budgets both for the condition survey and the treatment project, as well as a thoughtful analysis of the inevitable discrepancies.  Her honest assessment of the project pointed out potential pitfalls and areas of concern when designing a scrapbook conservation project.  Having the opportunity to learn from her experience puts me in a far better position to begin planning our own scrapbook project at ISU Library, since I now have very concrete data on which to base my own estimates.

An example of a scrapbook rehousing designed by the UIUC Libraries Conservation Lab.

Our lively, engaged group of workshop participants included three librarians from Western Kentucky University Library Special Collections, a curator from the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, a student from the Museum Studies Program at Western Illinois University, an archivist from UIPUI University Library, and an archivist from the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission.

Sue Lynn McDaniel, Special Collections Librarian at Western Kentucky University, practices consolidating red rotted leather with Cellugel.

Jennifer demonstrates the intricacies of properly wrapping a book for storage or transport.

Among our group, I was the only conservator taking the class.  However, while I am already well-versed in the actual treatment techniques we practiced (encapsulating, making wrappers, paper mending, hinging, backing removal), the class still proved to be a valuable experience for me.  Learning some tried-and-true approaches from someone who has been thinking about the complexities of scrapbooks for much longer than I have saves me from having to reinvent the wheel when I approach our own scrapbook collection.  It was also just a joy to have two uninterrupted days to think about scrapbook preservation problems non-stop, and to bounce ideas off of others struggling with similar issues.

Jennifer’s solution to isolating an attachment which still needs to be handled: a Melinex encapsulation with a window cut into it, so the card can still be opened and read.

I’m very happy to announce that we have just started our own scrapbook project at ISU Library.  The overall goals of the project are to:

  • Identify and inventory scrapbooks in the Manuscript and Archives collections
  • Assess the condition of the scrapbooks
  • Prioritize scrapbooks for digitization, rehousing, stabilization, and full treatment
  • Treat scrapbooks according to the determined priorities

Images of some of the scrapbook challenges which await us in ISU Library Special Collections and Archives.

Our conservation volunteer, Martha, will be working with me on this project, so look for updates from either one of us in the months ahead.  In the meantime, if your own scrapbook collection needs some TLC, I can recommend Jennifer Hain Teper’s Care of Historic Scrapbooks workshop at the Campbell Center without reservation.  Whether you work within the conservation field or practice an allied profession, you will end the course better equipped to tackle the challenges of these complex artifacts.

Click on image to enlarge.

Here in the Conservation Lab, I am currently treating the original of the photo shown above, a silver gelatin print of a football game at ISU on August 21, 1930.  Thanks to my oh-so-discreet arrows and captioning, you’ll notice two young men in the crowd wearing beanies.  These beanies, with alternating triangles in cardinal and  gold, are ISU freshman beanies (also called “prep caps”).  The beanies were worn by ISU freshman (emphasis on the men only) from 1916 until 1934.

The Library Special Collections and Archives holds a rare example of such a beanie from 1918.  Since campus tradition dictated burning the freshman beanies in a bonfire at an end-of-the-schoolyear “moving up” ceremony, surviving examples are few and far between.  This past spring, our undergraduate intern Alex Menard designed a special box for the beanie which would allow this artifact to be viewed by Library visitors — and even removed from its box for exhibit — without the beanie itself being handled.

First Mock-up.

Second Mock-up.

First, Alex built a few miniature mock-ups to test her design.  The first design was simple and elegant, but was not as structurally sturdy as she wanted it to be.  The second design added some reinforcements that worked beautifully, but also added a complicated drop-down front that Alex ultimately decided was unnecessary.

Museum-quality hat stand for the beanie.

Next, Alex ordered a museum-quality hat stand to support the beanie, and measured off the stand to get the exact measurements to use for the final box.  The sturdy final box functions easily, and allows a dramatic presentation of one of our treasured artifacts of ISU history.  Great work, Alex!

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