Preservation Services


CindyAfter spending 45 years on the ISU campus, first as an undergraduate and then as a library employee, Cindy Wahl retired June 1, 2015.  After earning a BA in Craft Design in 1974 and a BA in Art Education in 1975, Cindy started student teaching and realized that teaching might not be the career path for her.  So, in the fall of 1976, she went to the Home Economics placement office (the Art department was in Home Economics) to look at available jobs.  Carolyn Erwin was working in the placement office at the time and asked her what kind of job she wanted.  She replied, “any job that would allow her to move away from home (Anamosa).”  Carolyn said that the library was a good place to work and that she should go to the ISU placement office, which she did that day.  This was back in the day when applicants for merit positions had to take tests.  Cindy took the tests, went home, and received a phone call for a job interview at the library.  She moved into an apartment on Welch Avenue and started as a Clerk I in the Serials Department of the Library on October 18, 1976.  Within 18 months, she was promoted to a Library Assistant I and then to a Library Assistant III.  She worked at the serials Kardex and in Serials Acquisitions.  For a few months she did some basic Serials Cataloging which gave her a better understanding of records which she benefitted from in each position she held in the library.  She supervised the Kardex staff, and continued working in Serials Acquisitions when she was reclassified to a Library Assistant IV.  She spent the next 15 years in the Preservation Department working on vended services including preservation facsimiles, microfilm, digitization, mass deacidification, custom-fit boxes, and library binding, learning a lot about preservation and getting to know a plethora of vendor reps.

Cindy has been a life-long Cyclone fan since her father was a graduate of the ISU Veterinary College and her mom worked for Colonel Pride at the Memorial Union.  Her first memory of Ames was coming with her family when her dad had meetings one summer.  The family went to the Lincoln Way Café in Dog Town and shocked the waitress when 3 young Wahl children, ages 7, 4, and 3, all ordered liver and onions for lunch! Yum!

For Cindy the best part of working at the library has been the people she met and has gotten to know.  Last summer, she even had a library work friend from the 1970’s come to visit.  Over all those years, she has met and worked with so many and she enjoys keeping in touch with them.  The biggest change she witnessed were records in paper form and typewriters shifting to computers and digital records.

Now that she is retired and home from a trip to Chicago to attend her nephew’s wedding, she has stacks of books to read, including the complete library of Agatha Christie; “I need to get busy before the books become brittle.”  (The things you worry about after working in Preservation).  She has started reading one of the books from her stacks.  Her plan is to read a book and pass it on.  She also hopes to do some traveling with her sister and she has a long list of blanket weaving projects for each of her nephews and nieces; “I have more yarn than I have books.”

Thank you Cindy for all of the contributions you have made to the library over 39 years!

Written by Suzette Schmidt.

The Iowa State University Library’s Preservation Services unit is responsible for gathering, organizing, and preparing three newspaper publications to be shipped out of the Library to a microfilming company in order to be filmed and permanently added to our collection.  This allows people to research these publications starting from 1890 (in the case of the Iowa State Daily) to the present.  The biggest problem we have had in completing this task is making sure we had a copy of each issue published.  We solved this problem and no longer need to worry about having the copies we need.

Newspapers

  • Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman is a weekly publication of Iowa Farm Bureau providing important information regarding agriculture from all parts of the state.   We had been using the copy which we receive on subscription, but were finding that often issues were missing.  We would then need to borrow the publisher’s copy.  To avoid this problem, the publisher now sends us a copy to use only for microfilming.
  • Toons is a free weekly publication of Cartoons and Puzzles that is enjoyed by many from Iowa State, Ames, and the surrounding communities.  Once again, we were having problems with the papers disappearing from our shelves.  Toons is placed around campus and the community with one of these locations at the building next to the library.  One of our staff members picks up a copy each week which we use as the copy for microfilming.
  • Iowa State Daily is the daily student newspaper of Iowa State University providing information to students, faculty, staff, and community members about events and other subjects of interest in regards to this academic institution.   The library obtains 2 copies of the Daily.  One copy is mailed to us and a second copy is picked up by a staff member in Special Collections.  Having 2 copies available allows us to pick the cleanest copy to send to our vendor for filming.

Working in the Preservation Department, one soon realizes how important our eyesight is to the tasks we need to perform.  Whether it is making repairs or doing work on the computer, the work is intense and can tire out our eyes.

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We all know that to maintain good eyes, we should wear appropriate sunglasses when outside or riding in a vehicle.  Our diet is important too, as we need to include green leafy vegetables, oily fish, eggs, nuts and beans.  If your job includes working with hazardous or airborne materials, you should wear safety glasses or protective goggles.  A trip to the optometrist or ophthalmologist once a year is a good habit to have and helps to assure that eye problems are caught soon. This is all important information which we have heard and learned throughout our lives.

There is another important step to maintaining our eyesight as we work in jobs which require intense use of our eyes and up-close work: look up and look away.  When I started working at the Iowa State University Library 38 years ago, my first supervisor told me to remember to rest my eyes.  She said I should look up about every 20 minutes and look off into the distance.  She explained that this would help to keep my eyes flexible and able to see both close up and things in the distance.  At the time, this was easy to do as the work space was open and one could easily see from one end of the long room to the other end.  Over the years, we have had much remodeling done to the office spaces, creating cubicles where each person works.  This does not always leave a good view to look up and out.  If this is the case in your office, it is good to get up and move about so you can look out.  This does not mean that you need to take a hike or daydream for several minutes, just 20 seconds every 20 minutes will do the job.

At some point, everyone will most likely need bifocals, trifocals, or reading glasses, but remembering to look up and look out will help to keep your eyes flexible and perhaps delay the addition of glasses to assist with close up work.

For those of you who do any sort of preservation reformatting or digitizing you know how time consuming the quality control process can be. Our best practice would be to check completeness and initial quality of the original, especially if we are sending them to a vendor, and then to quality control page-by-page or frame-by-frame the facsimile or digital version. Maybe over time, as we become more confident in our process or the vendor’s, we may choose to do some spot checking or sampling if we are doing a large project. This is the step that is often overlooked when planning a project and budgeting staff time. It seems like such a waste of resources, especially when there are no mistakes to be found.

Well, let me tell you a little story and provide a warning. Like many academic institutions, our dissertations were sent to UMI for microfilming dating back to the 1930s. We did not receive copies because the student was required to submit two paper copies to the library (one for general collections and the other for University Archives). In 2006, we caught up with the times and moved to electronic submission of both MA theses and PhD dissertations through ProQuest’s ETD process. At that time, ProQuest made an offer to members of the Greater Western Library Alliance to digitize older theses and dissertations at a reduced cost so full-text versions could be accessed through ProQuest’s Dissertations & Theses database. Our administration decided to have all of our dissertations digitized. We sent nearly 2,000 print titles and ProQuest used an additional 12,000 microfilm titles from their holdings for the project. The majority of print titles were early dissertations that needed a little attention; graphs, charts, and photographs were re adhered, pages mended, and bindings were cut.

Because we did not receive digital copies, we never performed any post-production quality control, and also thought that since ProQuest was making these available for sale it would behoove them to be diligent and capture them accurately. Flash forward to the present. Our Digital Repository (DR) was established in 2012, giving us a place to provide open access to dissertations and theses. Administration purchased the digital dissertations from ProQuest and they are being added to the DR by our Metadata and Cataloging staff. Each title page is checked against the record to confirm that the PDF is what it claims to be. Well, so far our diligent MD and Cat staff have identified 15 ProQuest screw-ups.

Each dissertation usually begins with bibliographic information and a UMI statement indicating the text was filmed directly from the original and if anything is missing or of poor quality, it is because the author submitted it that way; although, missing pages would be noted. At first the Catalogers were finding minor problems such as no title page, the wrong title page, or missing front matter. Then they started finding parts of other dissertations added in, the wrong dissertation (sometimes from other institutions!), or, it gets better, portions of two different dissertations, neither of which were the correct dissertation, pieced together. So far it appears that all of the mistakes are coming from microfilm scans from the 1970s-90s, and since we do not hold microfilm copies, I cannot determine if the mistake is with the microfilm original or the scanning process. (ILL requests for two microfilm copies were not received by the time of this post). The incorrect digital versions we were sent are the same ones that ProQuest has made available.

Preservation is now scanning these mistakes in-house and adding them to our open access DR. In the near future, the OCLC MARC records for all ISU theses and dissertations will include the URL to the DR object without a URL to the ProQuest version. Researchers will be able to find complete and accurate representations in our DR for free.

I would suggest that if your institution has worked with ProQuest to convert microfilm versions, you may want to do some checking of your own. Maybe we should ask ProQuest if they would like to purchase correct digital files from us.

Quality control, quality control, quality control!

Rubber bands, what a wonderful invention.  They can be used for fun: stretched into sling shots, wrapped together to make a ball, linked together to make a giant rubber band, whatever your imagination can think to do with them.  They can also be used to help you: to hold papers together, to wrap around items like sticks that need to be kept together, worn on your wrist to help remind you of something, or snapped to help you break a bad habit.

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Office supply sling shot, ball of rubber bands, and giant rubber band made up of smaller rubber bands. [Note: The Preservation Department does not condone using office supplies to construct a sling shot at work. This sling shot serves the purpose of illustration only.]

However, using rubber bands as a long term solution for holding things together is not a good idea.  They can dry out or turn sticky, causing them to break and leave remnants of the rubber behind on the object.  In the past, I would use rubber bands to bind together some of my paper work and bills at home.  If I packed the papers away, after a few months or years when I retrieved the stack, the rubber band would have broken and the papers were no longer being held together.  Often the papers that were touched by the rubber band would have stains from the rubber.

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Aged, broken rubber bands.

Health issues may arise from using rubber bands.  The most serious is that rubber bands are made from natural rubber latex, which may cause allergic reactions.  Another problem is when a band breaks as you are using it, the snapping band will hit your hands or fingers causing a bright red spot and stinging sensation.

Here in Preservation Services at Iowa State University Library, we use rubber bands to hold together the serial publications that are to be bound by our commercial bindery.  This helps keep the issues and paper work together as they pass through our unit and then on to the bindery, where the rubber bands are removed.  This process may take up to three weeks with the bands being used around the publications, but this is not long enough for the rubber to deteriorate and cause stains on the issues.

If you need to hold papers together for longer periods of time, it would be preferable to tie them up with cotton string.  Another more long term option would be to make or purchase a box to hold the papers.

Rubber bands may be used for convenience and short term usage, or to have some inexpensive fun, but please do not use them for long term storage!

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