Outreach


Next week here at the ISU Library we will be celebrating Preservation Week! It’s a wonderful time that we can devote to reaching out to the community and educating them on what we (and they) can do to preserve our personal and shared collections.

This year we will be hosting another Preservation Clinic: Ask the Experts that is open to the public. We invite those that are local to bring in a family heirloom or collectable and we will provide you with information on how you can properly care for and handle your item. We will be joined by some guest experts from the State Historical Society of Iowa as well as the Textiles & Clothing Museum. We will also have a representative from Digital Initiatives available to discuss our digital collections and the new Bomb transcription project that you may remember from our previous post.

If you are in central Iowa next week we invite you to come and join us and if you aren’t local I encourage you to check out the Preservation Week website for a lot of quality information on protecting our treasures!

 

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June 28-30, 2016 Iowa State University hosted the Iowa 4-H Youth conference titled “Dive to the Depths”. Students grades 8-12 from all over Iowa converged on the ISU campus to participate in group activities and workshops. Every year  almost 1000 kids attend! The workshops introduce the students to new professional environments and careers.  They also give participants an opportunity to develop practical life skills that they will use throughout their lives.

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I taught three  workshops about books at the Parks Library preservation lab. At the start of each workshop I did a short presentation about the history of books, into which I crammed as many interesting images as I could find. Then we made a fold-up book and sewed a pamphlet out of multi-colored papers. Most of the participants already had extensive sewing experience. Many had made a quilt or an outfit before, so it took them all of 3 minutes to sew a simple pamphlet! Oops, I will have to step it up with the difficulty level next year!

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At the end of the session I showed the 4-H-ers some conservation projects that I was working on. Many of them were really curious about the chemistry of the materials that they saw – both the artifacts and the conservation supplies. They answered my questions readily and were not too shy to ask their own, which I appreciated.

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I continue to search digital collections of other university libraries to see the interesting things that they’re doing.  Each university has unique items to feature, so it doesn’t benefit every collection to be presented in the exact same way.  New and creative ways of displaying digital content at another institution might not necessarily be a good fit for our current collections, but they could help us think about possible projects to initiate in the future.

One feature I came across is only useful if you have multiple and different versions of a document.  The University of Maryland Digital Collections includes poems by the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven.  Each poem has between two and seven versions since she kept her original manuscripts as she worked from her first draft through to the final, finished poem.  They use a “Versioning Machine” which is an open source software that lets people view numbered line-by-line transcriptions of each version side-by-side for comparison.  http://www.lib.umd.edu/dcr/collections/EvFL-class/?pid=umd:2257

Besides being able to view digital images of the manuscripts, the transcriptions of those pages help a researcher see the step-by-step changes the author made.  It gives a person the ability to almost get inside the mind of the author from their first thoughts and throughout the creative process.  While this tool would not be useful for most collections, it’s a very good example of a creative way to provide specific viewing platforms for unique collections.

I’m going to grinch about your holiday decorating. Pinterest is awash in images of “Christmas trees” made from stacked-up books. Fine. If they’re your own books, and you understand that you are causing both short-term and long-term damage to them, then fine — go for it. They’re your books. You can do what you want with them (although I would still advise against it).

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The worst offender: expect warped spines, warped pages, tears, and pages popping loose from adhesive bindings.

However, if you are a library professional, and you are using library materials to build a book tree as a display in your library, then I am calling you out.  There are a million and one ways to decorate and share your festive holiday spirit (have you looked at Pinterest lately?!) without sending your patrons the wrong message. “But we chose general collections, circulating materials!” you say. “We used that serial journal that no one ever even looks at!” you might add.  It doesn’t matter.  You’re showing everyone who walks into your library that it is o.k. not to handle borrowed library materials respectfully, because you as a library are not treating them respectfully.  You’re putting a strain on the bindings, and exposing them to acute light damage, dust and debris.  So, why shouldn’t your patrons fill those books with highlighter and pencil marks, use them as coasters, prop open their doors with them?

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At least this tree isn’t draped with string lights. However, the staggered stacking and weight distribution is still likely to warp the book boards.

Fellow book conservators and preservation professionals, we still have work to be done.  Then maybe my heart would grow three sizes, too.

Help!  There is a mouse in my house and he is building his own.  One nice fall day, I discovered the calling cards of a mouse.  He hadn’t left them in the kitchen or storage room where one would expect him to be filling up on food.  I found his trail in my extra bedroom, the room where I have my loom and all of the yarn I have stored for future projects.  Now my task was to beat him at the game, track him down, and eliminate him.

Mouse nest.

Mouse nest.

My first step was a trip to the store to buy as many mouse traps as possible and some peanut butter to use as bait.  Once back home, I loaded on the bait and set the traps, scattering them around the house, but concentrating them in the extra room.  The next day I checked the traps and found the mouse dead on the trap in my yarn closet.  He was the plumpest mouse I have ever seen.  No wonder: he had been eating the rice which filled the neck warmer I had received as a gift.

Cleaning the closet was a slow and tedious job, removing all of the yarn to vacuum up the rice and calling cards.  Amongst the yarn, the house of the mouse was found.  He had helped himself to the soft and pretty alpaca and mohair yarns, a little bit of blue, a bit of pink, some gray and white.  Small pieces taken from the middle of the skeins and pulled apart to create a fluff ball of camouflage yarn for a cozy winter retreat.

New plastic bin for yarn storage.

New plastic bin for yarn storage.

Once the closet and yarn was cleaned and sorted, I made another trip to the store to purchase clear plastic storage containers and dryer sheets, the stronger the scent the better.  With the containers being clear, it is easy to see what is stored within the tote.  The tight-fitting lid will help to keep out unwanted house guests.  The dryer sheets also help to keep the mice away when placed on the outside of the totes.

The clear plastic storage bin means there will be no surprises when the bin is opened!

The clear plastic storage bin means there will be no surprises when the bin is opened!

The most important lesson I learned is to keep the doors to the outside shut, even if it means sounding like my mother, “SHUT THE DOOR!”

Lessons learned:

  • Don’t store grain-filled items in rooms other than the kitchen or pantry.
  • When a mouse is caught, call someone to remove the trap intact with the mouse and deposit it in the trash.  If no one is available to help, a shovel will do the job to scoop up the rodent and trap and deposit all in a trash bag.
  • Store yarn in a clear plastic bin with a tight-fitting lid.  This will allow you to see what yarn is being stored and impede the path of the mouse to gain access to the soft and beautiful building materials.
  • Scented dryer sheets help to repel mice and can be placed around the closet on the outside of the totes.
  • Good storage practices are vital for safe and clean storage of yarn.
  • Shut the Door!

1091map1As our regular readers know, the 1091 Project is a collaboration between Iowa State University Library and our conservation colleagues at Duke University Libraries. Well, this week, thanks to Kevin Driedger of the Library of Michigan, we have been participating in the 5 Days of Preservation project, a week-long collaboration among preservation professionals and institutions across the nation.  Kevin’s idea was simple but powerful: use social media to post a photo each day for five days of whatever preservation looks like for you that day.  Kevin then collected all those posted images in one place, the 5 Days of Preservation Tumblr blog. The collected photos showcase an impressive range of preservation activities that really illustrate the rich diversity of our  field.  So, this week, I encourage you not only to pop over to Preservation Underground for their 1091 post, but also to check out #5DaysOfPreservation, via Tumblr, Facebook, and/or Twitter. And kudos to Kevin for a fun and informative project!

Here is a quick recap of our ISU Library Conservation Lab posts for the week:

 

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MONDAY: Preservation looked like this humidified and flattened Depression-era letter.

 

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TUESDAY: Preservation looked like our student employee, Nicole, repairing books from the General Collection.

 

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WEDNESDAY: Preservation looked like professional photography lamps set up in front of our magnetic wall for imaging large-format architectural drawings.

 

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THURSDAY: Preservation looked like committee work for the AIC Sustainability Committee. Melissa and her fellow committee members are performing their annual link maintenance this month on the sustainability pages of the AIC Conservation Wiki.

 

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FRIDAY: Preservation looked like Preservation Assistant Mindy working on the departmental budget (a *very* important part of preservation indeed!)

The above letters (SOS ICPC) may not mean much to most people, but for those in the Iowa library world of preservation and conservation, they mean an opportunity to listen, learn, tour, and mingle with other library colleagues.  The 2014 SOS ICPC (the annual “Save Our Stuff” conference of the Iowa Conservation & Preservation Consortium) was held at the University of Iowa’s Main Library on June 6th.

A couple of the topics and workshops piqued my interest, so I decided to attend this year along with my ISU Library colleagues, Hilary Seo, Head of Preservation, and Whitney Olthoff, Project Archivist.

Thinking Inside the Box with Kären Mason and Janet Weaver.

Thinking Inside the Box with Kären Mason and Janet Weaver.

The Keynote Speaker was John Doershuk, State Archaeologist and Director, Office of the State Archaeologist, who discussed recent archaeological finds on the University of Iowa campus.  The University of Iowa is still making adjustments to their campus after major flooding in June 2008 and recently unearthed beads, glassware, and other artifacts of interest. They are planning upcoming future digs as well.

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Thinking Inside the Box with Kären Mason (far right image, center) and Janet Weaver (far right image, left).

Afterwards I went to the Iowa Women’s Archives for Thinking Inside the Box with Kären Mason, Curator, and Janet Weaver, Assistant Curator.  They had several interesting items to look at for housing ideas, but I was really interested in the boxing of those special items crafted by the University of Iowa’s Conservation Lab and the interesting ways their boxes accommodated them.  Kären sounded very happy to have a great team working in the Conservation Lab to come up with and construct some creative boxing ideas.

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Taxidermy Care & Cleaning with Cindy Opitz.

Next I headed to the Special Collections Classroom for Taxidermy Care & Cleaning by Cindy Opitz, Collections Manager, UI Museum of Natural History.  Cindy explained how to be cost efficient and make your own Q-tips as you can go through so many of them when cleaning exhibits.  She demonstrated the proper cleaning and low speed vacuuming techniques using brushes and screens.  It was amazing how much dirt came off of our bird specimens with our Q-tips.

Taxidermy Care & Cleaning by Cindy Opitz. The birds at top are the piece I worked on.

Taxidermy Care & Cleaning by Cindy Opitz. The birds at top are the piece I worked on.

Lastly I attended Making Custom Exhibition Supports by Bill Voss, Conservation Technician, and Brenna Campbell, Assistant Conservator, UI Libraries.  Bill demonstrated making custom mounts using his bare hands using Vivak (an alternative to thin Plexiglas), and Brenna showed us the uses of polyethylene strapping and J-Lar tape in securely holding book pages open for exhibit.

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Making Custom Exhibition Supports with Bill Voss and Brenna Campbell.

I came away with many new ideas on boxing techniques, custom exhibit supports, and cleaning taxidermy if the need be.

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