Guest Bloggers


 

Posed_shot

At the bench

Hi! My name is Emilie Duncan, and I am the 2017 Lennox conservation intern. I come to Iowa from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC), by way of Charlottesville, Virginia, where I just completed my third year internship at the University of Virginia Library. Although technically I do not graduate with my Library and Archival Materials Conservation degree until later in August, the completion of my internship year is a major achievement and I am viewing this internship at ISU as my first post-graduate professional position. I was drawn to this internship because of the collections here at Parks Library, which include a wide range of archival materials, rare books, and objects. I studied Historic Preservation in undergrad, and from this gained an interest in historical objects of use as well as architectural and technical drawings. This internship will allow me to gain additional experience with these types of materials in an academic library setting.

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Reviewing materials for a library exhibit with an online component

I am just getting started here at ISU, but I already have several treatment and non-treatment projects going, which I will be writing about in future posts. Part of my learning experience here will be simply understanding how the lab works and how the workflows are adapted to the specific collections and user population at Iowa State. By comparing and contrasting this information with other conservation labs I have worked in and will work in, I can gain insight that will help me make the most of my environments in the future.

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First treatment, generated by a patron’s digitization order

I am really looking forward to settling into the flow of the lab and exploring campus and beautiful Ames (although I will admit I am glad I won’t be here to experience an Iowan winter!) You will hear from me again soon!

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On June 1, 2017, I began my 32nd year at the ISU Library. In the early years, my job morphed from a documents librarian to a Reference Librarian with instruction and collection development duties. At the turn of the century, yes the 21st one, I added oversight for the library building including safety and security to my repertoire. Then in 2008, I dropped the reference/instruction aspects to concentrate on the library spaces. Over the past three years, I have been focused on the development of our library spaces feasibility plan and now the upcoming restroom renovations.

With nearly 20 years of experience with the building, I thought I knew the library physical spaces inside and out. But during last two architect tours of the building, I discovered new places and learned interesting tidbits about the building.

During tours of the mechanical/electrical rooms, I noticed that workers used walls for their scratch paper. Various calculations and notes were written presumably for the operations of the machinery located in these spaces as shown in photographs below

20170615_093231Measurements for panels

20170615_093129More measurements

20170615_093223Simplified schematic of the electrical circuitry for a water valve

Another one of my interesting finds in a mechanical room was a set of pipes that at first glance looked like plumbing pipes. But if you know plumbing, a “y” joint is never used for joining in two pipes coming in opposite directions. So what was this set of pipes? Well, the original building had a feature that many homeowners would love to have…centralized vacuum system. The second photo shows a  capped opening in the Periodical Room.

20170615_093136“Y” joint for the centralized vacuum system

20170706_080830Capped opening for centralized vacuum system

In many of the mechanical/electrical rooms, I discovered evidence of the original building which was concealed by the new construction needed for the 1960’s additions. The original building material was the large slabs of limestone in these photographs.

20170706_081700  Original building in a mechanical room

20170615_100240  Original building in an electrical room

During the next few years as the library undergoes a revitalization of its physical spaces, I wonder what else will be undercovered, revealed, or exposed. Stay tuned.

Student employee Julianna Biedenfeld straining wheat starch paste at the Preservation lab

Student employee Julianna Biedenfeld straining wheat starch paste at the Preservation lab

The repairs we do on books in the Preservation Department is something that many might think seems really complicated or something super scientific. However, the work we put into books up here on the 4th floor isn’t all as complex as it appears to be and can be related to hobbies done outside of the Preservation Lab. Personally, I really enjoy putting together puzzles. In some aspects I can relate this enjoyment to the work I do in Preservation at the library.

A slow and steady progress through a puzzle

A slow and steady progress through a puzzle

Most recently, I have been working on a book repair technique called a reback. A reback is done when the spine of the cover is damaged, but the rest of the book is intact. Books that need repairing like this are what I would consider a puzzle that’s put together, but not quite finished. A damaged book needs something more – a few more pieces – to make it look complete. When working on a puzzle, sometimes you take a few pieces out that had already put together to get a closer look and find which pieces match with it.

Books with damaged spines, re-backs in progress and a completed repair

Books with damaged spines, re-backs in progress and a completed repair

A similar approach goes with the books I have been repairing. You take off the damaged bookcloth and replace some of it with new bookcloth. Then you put the final “piece” back on – the title – and the book looks complete. Once all the parts are together the book is finished and can be put back on the shelf to be used. In a similar way, once the pieces of a puzzle are all together, you can see a full image and sit back to enjoy it.

 

Working in the Parks Library Preservation Lab

Student employee Drew Ryan working in the Parks Library Preservation Lab

One large purpose of a library is to provide access to information to people. To be able to keep providing this access to information the digital initiatives department takes hard copies and makes digital copies that can be saved and distributed online or archived. While working for this department I have scanned masters theses, Iowa State Bombs, Iowa State Board of Trustees minutes, and Iowa State Facility slides. It’s very satisfying to go onto the library website and be able to see what I scanned available to the public.

ISU's "The Bomb" from 1894

Digital copy of the cover of Iowa State University’s Yearbook from 1894

In the conservation department I have done some preventative work as well as repairs. I have done shield bindings and pamphlets which give each book some protection so that they last longer. The most satisfying work however has been doing the repairs. It’s a cool experience to take a book or part of a book apart and then put it back together and see how it’s good as new.

Cleaned spines of general collection books

Cleaned spines of general collection books

Original covers that will be reattached to the textblocks

Original covers that will be reattached to the textblocks

It’s a good feeling working in both of these departments and helping to preserve the access to information, whether it is creating digital copies or repairing a damaged book so that people can continue to use it.

Former Lennox Intern Susanna Donovan returns to the ISU Conservation Lab in virtual form, as a guest blogger! Susanna is currently a Mellon Fellow in Paper Conservation at Balboa Art Conservation Center in San Diego, CA.

This post comes as a note to the upcoming AIC annual meeting in San Francisco.

I heard this story on NPR in September in which a professor at Boston University observed how the size of a recyclable object had a direct influence on whether it was actually put into the recycling bin or not. It turned out that while a whole sheet of paper would be recycled, that same sheet of paper, torn into small bits, would find its way into the trash. In the time since this observation, the professor has become aware that his own recycling habits have changed. Now acutely aware of how many small recyclable items are over looked, he will even take the paper labels off of plastic coke bottles and recycle them separately.

I empathize, and I am also guilty.

As a conservator working with paper, I find myself with a growing collection of paper scraps. My spoils of Japanese paper, Western paper, (sandpaper?!), toned paper, remoistenable paper, and solvent-set papers are nestled into folders and Mylar sleeves. When I get annoyed at how the smaller pieces get everywhere and the static turns my long strips into crinkly messes, I nestle another, smaller, Mylar sleeve into the bigger Mylar sleeve in which to put the smaller bits.

Scraps-01

Avoiding a Russian nesting doll situation, my VERY small, but very precious bits of that perfectly toned paper go into one of those mini Altoid tins. I acquired these tins from various people. I feel like I can’t be the only book & paper conservator who asks friends, colleagues, and family members “Are you going to use that?” when a perfectly useable, hinged tin goes on the market. Anyway, my small bits go there. I can keep them contained, with the lid, and I don’t have to worry about the static of the mylar sleeves causing me grief. There is also my prized origami-envelope in which I keep some random things (i.e. the sandpaper, mylar mounting strip examples for photographs, itty bits of Western paper). I keep telling myself that one day I will open it out so I can remember how to make more envelopes, but I am too afraid that I will never be able to get it back to what it was, and then where will I put my random things?

Scraps-02

With all of my various ways of saving tiny mending strips and tangles of fuzz, you’d think that no fuzz goes unused, no strip wasted. But the trail of cotton and small squares of Japanese paper sunk into the carpet in the hallway bespeak the trials of every paper conservator out there: the dreaded paper cling. I admit that I have gone to the bathroom to look in the mirror and discover that I have fuzz all over my sweater. And here we come to the crux of my guilt: I brush it off. I do not save those bits that I find outside the confines of the lab, lest the administrative staff of the photography museum  in our shared hallway see me lightly holding something between my fingers on my way back from the bathroom…It would just look weird, right? But maybe I should. We save these small pieces of paper because we literally never know when we might need that EXACT tone, size, weight, etc., in the future. And some of these papers might be one of a kind, and so each and every piece is, indeed, precious. But what if I changed the narrative for those sweater-clingers, and thought first “waste not,” instead of “a fuzz on my chest again?! @$%&.” It might not do much, but since I am already shaking out my hands 12 times before grabbing that paper towel (as per a TED talk that stuck with me), what will it hurt?

Conserving is part of what we do, even if it might not be the first thing we use to define ourselves. The meeting in San Francisco will have presentations about sustainability and waste management in conservation, but I’d like to poke my nose out there and ask, more informally, what do you do?

Where do your small paper treasures hide? What lengths do you go to to use every last inch of that precious sheet of Tim Barrett paper ? What could we all do better?

LiliBrik

Along with our wishes for a happy new year, we’d also like to say thank you to our readers for making last year such a rewarding one for us.  We appreciate your shared insights and feedback, and thank you for being part of our virtual preservation community.

2013 is already off to an exciting start, beginning with a frozen pipe which burst in the offices of our Special Collections and Archives over break.  Since I was basking in the Arizona sunshine at the time, Hilary will fill you in on the details of that escapade next Tuesday.  We’re also in the midst of our search for the 2013 Lennox Foundation Intern; if you or someone you know is planning to apply, please note the January 17 deadline.

Parks Library, Iowa State University

Parks Library, Iowa State University

As we look ahead to the rest of 2013, are there any favorite topics you would like to see us revisit?  We’ve covered topics as diverse as disaster response, conservation treatments, digitization projects, book and paper arts, commercial binding, reformatting, book reviews, conferences, sustainability, whimsical quizzes, and local preservation events.  Are there topics we’ve never discussed that you wish we would?  Guest bloggers from other departments of the Library from whom you’d like to hear?  Join our conversation!

Wishing you all a productive and fulfilling 2013!

Harrison Inefuku is Iowa State University Library’s new Digital Repository Coordinator.  While Harrison is not part of the Preservation Department, he works closely with us on digital preservation issues, and has agreed to be an occasional guest blogger.

As Hilary mentioned in an earlier post, I left hot and humid Hawai‘i for what turned out to be an even hotter and more humid Iowa. I’ve already been asked on multiple occasions, “What could draw someone from the white, sandy beaches of O‘ahu to the exotic climes of central Iowa?”

The opportunity to serve as Iowa State University’s first Digital Repository Coordinator, of course! And, despite my aversion to heat and humidity, I am thoroughly enjoying my time here.

In my role as digital repository coordinator, I am overseeing the development and operations of Digital Repository @ Iowa State University, Iowa State’s new institutional repository. An institutional repository is a platform for collecting and providing access to scholarly, research and creative works being produced by members of the Iowa State community—our faculty, staff, students, administrators and university offices, programs, centers and departments.

There isn’t much in the repository yet. I’ve spent much of my first two months here developing the administrative framework of the repository—writing the policies, guidelines and procedures that will determine how the repository functions. Many of the recent theses and dissertations written by now-Iowa State alumni are available, as well as many publications written by library faculty and staff. Try doing a search on your favorite Parks Library Preservation blog writers and see if anything comes up!

Of course, when we provide access to digital materials, we want to ensure that these materials remain accessible over time. This is where my close working relationship with the Preservation Department comes in. Together, with the Preservation and Special Collections departments, we need to develop strategies for digital preservation to ensure that the scholarly and creative output of Iowa State is preserved for posterity.

The vast majority of information created today is born-digital and, in increasing numbers, exists in digital format only.  In the digital environment, it is easy to lose information—through changes in technology, the ease of manipulating digital files, and the tendency for files to corrupt right when you need them. Preservation is further complicated by copyright law, which places limitations on how and why libraries can make reproductions of the materials in their collections.

My approach to digital preservation draws from archival science and diplomatics (the study of archival documents), so in addition to ensuring ongoing access to our digital collections, I am concerned with their authenticity and reliability. In future guest blog posts, I intend to touch on a myriad of topics relating to digital preservation, including a discussion of diplomatics and the authenticity of records.  I think Parks Library Preservation is going to quickly regret inviting me to be a guest blogger.

Stay tuned, everyone!

A hui hou,

Harrison

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