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:






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.


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.


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 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: not a completely free site) and 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 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 ( (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.


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″ />



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 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:


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 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:


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

Ashley (l) and Hope (r) show off their newly constructed clamshell boxes.

Ashley (l) and Hope (r) show off their newly constructed clamshell boxes.

One project we let students do when learning how to make a cloth-covered Clamshell Box is to construct a box for one of their own personal books for practice. I myself was a little rusty in making one as it had been awhile. I have made other boxes recently, but not for books, so I needed a little practice myself especially when it came to measuring.

Hope created a cloth-covered divider with a ribbon tab for lifting to separate the two books in her clamshell box.

Hope created a cloth-covered divider with a ribbon tab for lifting to separate the two books in her clamshell box.

Hope Mitchell brought in the ever-popular Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban. Both of these books are very special to Hope, as they were given to her as a Christmas present by her late grandfather. This box would be a little different, as we planned to do a thin divider with a tab between the books to protect them.

Ashley's book had a narrow spine depth, so she inserted a platform to support the book and add depth.

Ashley’s book had a narrow spine depth, so she inserted a platform to support the book and add depth.

Ashley Arnold brought in a beautiful, blue felt covered book with decorative multicolor stitching of owls in a tree that was a gift from a dear friend from England. This book would need a little extra padding for protection.

I myself was working on two old volumes from Special Collections.

"Stackette" style trays made from faulty clamshell trays.

“Stackette” style trays made from faulty clamshell trays and held together with Velcro dots.

As we worked on making our boxes (as I said, it had been a while), we each made a miscalculation in our measurements and needed to start over. Hope loves green and was making a clamshell box of green book cloth and Preservation’s favorite Natural-Colored Canapetta. Her “oops” box turned into a box for special momentos. Ashley’s box started with the same green book cloth and her “oops” turned into a nice pencil tray for her desk. I was using the Natural-Colored Canapetta and my “oops” became two trays that can be attached by Velcro dot that can be used like a Stackette tray or as single trays. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like to waste things, so we all three made good use of our errors.

In the end, Hope had her green and natural box, and Ashley had her green and gray box for their special books, and the knowledge of how to make a Clamshell Box.

Applications for the 2014 Lennox Foundation Internship for Preservation Education, Training, & Outreach are due next week, on Thursday, January 16.  We’re interested in applications from current graduate students or recent graduates of training programs that specialize in book and paper conservation, photograph conservation, preservation administration, digital preservation, or audiovisual/film preservation. For more information and application guidelines, see Lennox Internship 2014.

Please note: We regret that we cannot offer visa support for international students. We can consider applications only from those international students who already have a work/study visa through some other means.

1091map1This month’s 1091 Project returns its focus to student workers.  We have written before about the important role our student employees play in the lab, in the post Portrait of the Student Technician, but this time we will discuss the process of finding, hiring, and training students employees.

How We Find Students

Recent changes to student hiring procedures have made the process of identifying strong student applicants much smoother and more successful.  Individual Library departments can now write up the criteria for and description of their specific student positions to post on the ISU Student Job Board.  In this way, we can attract students who are specifically interested in the sort of work that the Conservation Unit performs.  The second positive change is that Library HR developed an online job application, which means that motivated students who are planning ahead can apply for a campus job even if they are off campus or out-of-state at the time an open position posts to the Job Board.  One of our new hires is a freshman, and she was able to apply for her job from home earlier in the summer, before she even moved to campus in August.  We had over sixty-five applications for two student openings this Fall.  We interviewed six students, and hired two wonderful candidates who have settled into the lab environment quickly and productively.

Hiring Students

Conservation work requires a certain type of aptitude: the ability to measure and cut accurately, the ability to work independently, the good judgment to stop and ask questions or seek assistance when necessary, the ability to work in a sometimes-chaotic shared workspace while still maintaining focus.  For this reason, the interview process is critical to hiring successful student technicians.  During the interview process, I speak with students for about twenty minutes about their previous work experiences, their hobbies, and their approach to working with others.

Next, I turn the candidate over to our technician, Mindy Moeller, who administers a “dexterity test.”  She asks the candidate to trim out a spine label and glue it onto a mock book spine, to fold a piece of paper precisely into quarters, to determine the grain on a square of 40-pt. board (which we use for many enclosures and adhesive binding covers), and to glue down a piece of bookcloth.  Mindy makes a note of not only how well the students perform each of these tasks, but also how they respond to suggestions and constructive criticism, whether or not they ask questions to clarify her instructions, and their general comfort level working with their hands under her watchful eye.  Mindy and I then consult and make a collaborative decision about whom to hire.


New student technicians receive the majority of their training from our technician, Mindy.  She is a thorough and patient teacher, guiding them through the workflow process and helping them build up their skills methodically.  I occasionally assist in training the students on general repair techniques, but most often train them for special projects as they arise.  Finally, our senior student workers are also invaluable in training the new students.  They develop their own tips and tricks over time, and I love seeing them share this knowledge with their fellow students.  I believe that empowering everyone in the lab — including the students — to assist, consult, and share their knowledge makes the lab stronger as a community and improves the quality of the work output overall.

We are sad that we will be losing three long-time student employees soon, but happy for them they they will be graduating and moving on to “real world” challenges.  And in the meantime, we are grateful that they will overlap this academic year with our two new students employees, so they can pass their knowledge along to the new student staff and keep our tradition of collaborative learning going strong.  Devin Koch, who will graduate in December, will be writing next month’s 1091 Project post, “Student Perspectives, Part II,” about what it’s like to work in the Conservation Lab from her point of view as a senior student.

Don’t forget to stop by Preservation Underground to learn about the process of student hiring and training in Duke University Libraries’ Conservation Lab!

Sometimes people are surprised to find out that I have an interest in digital preservation.  I find their surprise surprising.  It’s as if they assume that, because I am a book and paper conservator, I must labor away in an ivory tower filled with moldering books while the modern trappings of technology hold no sway over me, if, indeed, I realize that “digital technology” exists at all.

Image from Lisa Gregory's ASERL-sponsored webinar "Digital Preservation and PREMIS," held on April 2, 2013, 11 am EST.

Image from Lisa Gregory’s ASERL-sponsored webinar “Preservation Planning and PREMIS,” held on April 2, 2013, 11 am EST.

While it is true that my profession entails a love affair with history (i.e. “the past”), and the literal tools of my trade are mechanical devices and hand tools designed centuries ago, my passion for preserving the cultural record crosses the boundary of analog versus digital.  As time ticks relentlessly on, the culture of the present day slips ever backwards into history, and preserving born-digital works becomes just as important as preserving centuries-old manuscripts.  In truth, I see little difference in the mission.  In my day-today activities, I may deal more with the chemical deterioration processes of cellulose than I do with corrupted bitstreams, but I still consider it a significant part of my profession to stay informed about advances in all aspects of library and archives preservation.

I’m lucky to have a supervisor who shares my sentiments.  Our Head of Preservation includes me on the “Digital Team,” which is made up of our Head of Preservation, the Digital Initiatives staff, the Digital Repository Coordinator, the University Archivist and Assistant Archivist, and — when the position is filled later this spring — our Cataloging and Metadata Management Librarian.  This also means that I am invited to educational webinars like the one we all attended today, the ASERL-sponsored webinar “Preservation Planning and PREMIS,” presented by Lisa Gregory, the Digital Collections Manager at the State Library of North Carolina.  The webinar is the first in a series of four about digital preservation.  I enjoy thinking over the theories and practicalities of digital preservation while I’m at the bench, repairing and mending books and documents centuries older than I am.

We will be accepting applications for the 2013 Lennox Foundation Internship for Preservation Education, Training, and Outreach at Iowa State University Library through Thursday, January 17, 2013.  Please visit our updated internship information page for details:

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