Whimsy


And now for something completely different. Normally, I stick with the script on my portion of the blogs, but I came across this interesting tweet today:

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Maybe true, maybe not…but it got me to thinking about how far we have come and how far we have to go when it comes to technology. My dad is always complaining about how computers always mess up everything. How things were so much simpler when a good old pen and paper is all you need to write; and why can’t people today pick up the phone to call instead of texting and FaceTiming/Skyping, (he still refuses to do the latter, but he no longer owns a landline phone.) I always take a deep breath and hold out my hands, palms up, moving them back and forth much like an imaginary scale and say: “Dad: Horse, Car, Horse, Car.” When I was a kid he use to tell me how much his dad was upset when the horses got replaced by cars. His dad would say: “Why horses: so much simpler; they can go through the tightest spots, and grass is free!” I don’t think Dad has made my connection between his father’s consternation, and his own lamentations.

The same can be said with technology today, I suppose, but it’s the same concept: keep up or fall behind. As one technology or advancement passes, another takes its place. And this includes the instruments we use to get there. Instead of a pencil, straight-edge and tons of rubber cement to put a newspaper or magazine together, it’s going all online. This is how websites started, and this is how it’s still going. It’s hard to imagine when I was in college, most of these things were in their infancy. There were no smartphones. No hand-held device where you could push a button and spend your money for instant gratification. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but there does need to be a balance. Holding on to the past isn’t the right answer, but abandoning all concepts of the past isn’t the way either.

Once a year, at about this time, I go through my desk and completely clean it out, including wiping down the inside and throwing out anything that doesn’t look like it belongs; I take home things that have accumulated over the year and generally try to tidy up my area. But today! Today I came across this gem:

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This is an old-timey 100% Horse Hair Sterilized Drafting Brush. This thing and I go back. Way back. In fact, way back past even me. This very brush is the brush Dad used when he went to State and took drafting courses. So, you know it’s O-L-D! I used this brush on more than brushing eraser poo away…I used it whenever I had anything I was done rubber-cementing or crayoning, or even weaving ends. This thing was, or rather is, slick to use to clean off debris from a desk, or drafting table. I don’t know if these things are even relevant anymore in this era of everything-can-be-done-on-a-computer; but it certainly took me back to the good old days. I can remember rooms in the Design College that were filled with machines that you could insert a paper and on one side little dotted rubber cement backing came out. Then you had to carefully cut out the area you needed (on a self-healing cutting mat…I still have mine…that thing is awesome, too!) and use a rubber roller to smooth out the air pockets. I’m going to bet that graphic designers over there use the computer for their layout and designs now. In my last year of college, they were only starting to use computer programs and I took every class I could (much to the chagrin of some of my friends: “why would you need computer classes for graphic design?”) At that time, everything you wanted to do was hand coded in. There were no “mouses” and easy, click-the-button instructions to these programs. You had to tell the computer what to do by writing it all out and C:> everything.  Oh, how that brush brought back memories. But now, I’m going to pass it on. My son, Ian, is at the perfect age to use it. He’s not a traditional artist. He’s a woodcarver. The brush will come in handy for cleaning wood shavings up from his work table. He’ll get as much use from it as I did. And perhaps, one day, he’ll be able to carry on the tradition with the next generation.

Even if I know that the only

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Ian ever touched (or probably will touch) was a toy he had as toddler, I know that a third generation of sweeping eraser/rubber cement/wood shavings poo, will be carried on in that little brush. And holding onto a few small items like that…those are good things to hold onto. The past “use-to-do’s” might be done differently today, but a little brush can always be used… if nothing else, to brush away the dust of yesterday.

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It has been a wonderful year in the ISU Library Conservation Lab. We’re grateful for the coworkers, interns, and students who helped make this a productive year, and are looking forward to another fresh start in 2015 (after a well-deserved break, of course).  We wish you all a very happy holiday season!

Written by Suzette Schmidt of Preservation Services.

I have always been a person who enjoys a mystery, whether reading a book or problem-solving through tasks.  My love of reading began at age 5.   My mother was an elementary school teacher, and she decided it was important for me to learn how to read before starting school.  She taught me how to read prior to entering kindergarten which I am extremely grateful for.  I absolutely loved to read (still do) and I became a voracious reader.  My favorite place to visit growing up was the public library.  I had no clue then that I would eventually be working in a library as an adult, however.  This came as a surprise to me, but it felt right.

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As a second-grader, I began reading Nancy Drew mysteries, which I loved as a kid.  I am now using Suduko and Crossword puzzles outside of work to take the place of mystery novels.  However, I get to fill this “problem-solving” need at work, as well, which I find enjoyable.  There are some aspects to my job where I am in a continual search for serial issues which either appear to be misplaced or missing as well as items which seem to “magically appear” as a surprise or a gift that I had not previously been looking for.

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When I am presented with these journal issues, I happily get out my “sleuthing skills” to figure out the next steps that needed to be taken either to claim for any missing materials, or to bind those that have been found during this process.  It gives me a tangible sense of accomplishment when I am able to resolve each “mystery” which comes my way.

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Written by Hope Mitchell

After four wonderful years as a Student Conservation Technician here in the lab, I am leaving to start my first real “grown-up” job. While I am thrilled to have a job, I am also very sad to be leaving the people and the lab that has in many ways become a home away from home for me over the years. So, in honor of the four years I spent with the lab, I thought that I would share with you some of my favorite lessons that I’ve learned during my time in the lab.

  1. “Perfect is the enemy of good.” -Voltaire

While I glanced at this prettily framed quote almost daily, even as I was agonizing over some treatment that refused to bend to my will, I did not fully appreciate its meaning until I witnessed a new student employee doing exactly what I had been doing for years. I realized that spending so much time torturing myself over achieving perfection was an inefficient use of my time and ended up sucking all the joy out of a job that I truly loved.

  1. Nothing is beyond repair

Working in a preservation lab, you very quickly become aware that there is a whole spectrum of damage that books can undergo. This can range anywhere from well meaning use of Scotch tape on a torn page all the way to some poor book that was run over by a car. Whatever the damage may be, there is something we can do to make it better. Rather than writing off damaged goods, preservation teaches you the importance of maintaining an open-minded, creative, collaborative, and solution-oriented work environment.

  1. Food is the great equalizer

This may seem completely unrelated to working in a preservation lab, but stick with me for a minute. Over the last four years, I have had the opportunity to work with an assortment of people from all different walks of life. While these people may have been from different places, different generations, had completely different interests/goals/opinions, one thing that I have found anyone can talk about passionately (whether they are a chatty person or not) is food. I would be willing to bet that I talked about food multiple times every single day that I was in the lab, and while it probably made everyone else hungry, I attribute many of the great relationships that I have built over the years to conversations we all had about food.

Every year in July, I try to take items to show at the Open Class at the Boone County Fair, and sometimes I’ve taken things I’ve made at work.  This year, I had four entries for the miscellaneous class: an icicle-stitch cord-bound book,  a post-bound guest book, a tool box for my specialty tools, and a bow made from book pages.

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My icicle-stitch book had been started at a staff development day several years ago, but was never completed, so I decided it was time to finish it and make it an interesting book by attaching the cover with Bookmakers Irish hemp cords.

Post-Binding

The post-bound guest book was made right after I had to do one for work and decided I needed to do another one for practice and as a model.  It served another purpose at the All 70’s BHS Class Reunion the weekend following the county fair.  The cover of the guest book featured a copy of Boone’s matador mascot “the Toreador” and was covered in red and green bookcloth (yes, our school colors are Christmas red and green!)  I had guests sign in with red and green markers as they “oohed and aahed” over the guest book with its red and green colored ribbons and silver beads spelling out “Boone” and “Toreadors.”

ToolBox

A while back, I received my own set of Caselli spatulas and tools. I decided I needed a nice box to keep them in to protect them at work when not in use.  We don’t buy boxes here in Preservation, we make them!  The box I made has two lift out Ethafoam cushioned trays and a cushioned bottom to store my Caselli tools, a brass triangle, specialty bone folders, and other miscellaneous tools.  Of course, I used my favorite Canapetta Natural bookcloth from Talas to cover the box.

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My last entry was a paper bow made from the pages of a discarded children’s book during a staff development day, and it can be hung on a tree or wall as an ornament.

All four entries received blue ribbons and each received good comments.  This is just another way to show off my talents from work and support the Open Class at the Boone County Fair.

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!
Photo Credit: http://www.schachtspindle.com/our_products/shuttles.php

Photo Credit: Schacht Spindle Co., Inc.

As retirement approaches sometime in the next 3 years, it is easy for me to weave a picture of what life will be like for me after leaving the library.  I have shelves of books all waiting to be read, a floor loom to use with the closets full of yarn I have collected over 40 years, naps to take, and hopefully travels to thread memories.  I have few problems graphing out the pattern.

It is not as easy to think about what needs to be charted at work before retirement.  I am starting with the basic plan for the plain fabric of procedures.  This will include the patterns for my work and the work done by the staff that I supervise.  This creates a good review of the processes and how they are intertwined within the section, department and library.  I have previously written procedures for most of my tasks and will be reviewing them for updating.  The procedures of the staff in Preservation Services are somewhat similar and overlap to create the completed and more unique fabric of the work in the section.  Some tasks are repetitive and move as a twill fabric.  Others are completed with more complicated repetitions, creating large overshot patterns.  This will be a good time to review and examine the fabric of our work here in Preservation Services.

So, work continues with dreams of the future and knowing that “You have to be warped to weave.”

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