You never know what you are going to get. As an artist myself I can appreciate art books and books with unique characteristics but let me tell you that when they enter the lab we usually groan. These books are often neat and unique and creative but more often than not they just don’t hold up well. Take for instance the most recent one to enter the lab – and funny, check out the title.


This book looked fine on the outside but when we opened it we realized the cover of this book had separated itself from the text block. A fairly easy fix by our technician and she also constructed a box for it to give it some protection since this item will be in our general collection and may get used a fair amount.



Curious if you see items like this in your repair work and how you feel about them.


We are currently reviewing applications for the 2017 Lennox Internship, this will be my first time participating in this process.

Here is a link to the Lennox Foundation Internship information page. The 2017 deadline for application has already passed, but keep us in mind for the following year, if you are interested.

Recently I found myself looking up former Lennox Interns and ferreting out what some of them are up to these days. The results of my findings were impressive, here are a few tidbits.

2006 Carie McGinnis


Works as a preservation librarian and a registrar at the Houghton Library at Harvard University.

2007 Ilse Entlesberger 


Works as the book conservator for the Regional Library of Upper Austria.

2008 Kathleen Fear


Went on to receive a PhD at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, focusing on the topics of curation, preservation and reuse. Then worked as a Data Librarian at the University of Rochester Library. Currently the Senior Business Intelligence Analyst at University of Rochester Medical Center.

2009  Bexx Caswell-Olson

MSU Advancement

Works as a book and paper conservator at the Michigan State University Library in Lansing.

2010 Kristi Westberg

kristi westberg

Went on to work as a book conservator at NEDCC (Northeast Document Conservation Center) and is currently a  book conservator at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA.

2010 Henry Hebert


Went on to work as a book conservator at the University of Illinois Library in Champaign and is now a book conservator at Duke University Library in North Carolina.

2011 Lauren Calcote

lauren calcote

Went on to do a conservation fellowship at the University of Michigan Library and is now a book conservator at the Newberry Library in Chicago.

2013 Sue Donnovan

sue donnovan

Went on to work as a  book conservator at the University of Notre Dame Library in Indiana and is now a book conservator at the University of Virginia Library in Charlottesville.

2014 Gloria Diez

gloria diez

Worked at GOTIKA film restoration and preservation services. Is currently the producer of the Mobile Cinema at ACERCARTE, organized by the Ministry of Cultural Management of Provinicia de Buenos Aires.

2014 Nicole Monjeau


Went on to do an internship in paper conservation at the Corning Museum of Glass and to volunteer at the Midwest Art Conservation Center. She co-presented a paper on her work at the Corning Museum of Glass at the 2016 ICOM meeting in Paris. Nicole is currently working in Minneapolis as a conservator of paper and photographs in private practice.

Here are some earlier blog posts from 2010 and 2011, written by Hilary Seo about former Lennox Interns.

One thing that is very important to have in a Preservation Lab is weights.  Whether you are using them for constructing a clamshell box, help in tissue mending, flattening an adhesive bind, or weighing down a book you need some kind of weight that is versatile and portable besides a book press.  I have below the different varieties we have in our lab from sizes, heaviness, and purpose.  First I have several common ones we use in Preservation.   In the back left is an old brick covered in book cloth and next to it is an acrylic “brick.”

The rest are all filled with either 4.5 mm BBs or mini BBs.  On the right is another acrylic “block” with mini BBs in it and to its left shows a BB box, one covered in binder’s board, and the middle one covered with book cloth.  In front are 2 oz. bottles filled with both mini and 4.5 mm BBs.  The mini BB bottle weights much more than the 4.5 mm BBs.  The little flat top 2 oz. bottle are the latest additional to our weights.  We like these as they are small for little jobs yet we can stack them for more added weight.  What we don’t like is when an acrylic block is dropped to the floor, it shatters, and BBs roll everywhere in the lab and you find them for months afterwards!

Next we have cloth covered BBs, metal washers, and flexible metal strings for more sensitive work and holding down pages in a book.

Then we have heavy metal plates with handles that remind me of a bacon press, nickel-plated steel bars that are small and extremely heavy, and glass blocks with safe edges which you can see your work through.

Lastly is my collection of weights filled with 4.5 mm BBs.  Something as simple as a Beanie Baby toy can be gutted and filled, a plastic Minion toy, and even my duck needle holder has BBs in it to help hold it upright but also can be used in a very small area needing weight.  I like using the Beanie Babies when I am sewing the folios of a book back together.  This also gives you something fun to look at on your lab table and also for entertainment when guests come for a tour and I tell them to pick up a Beanie and they are surprised by the heavy weight.  And of course I must have a Baby Cy weight too!






A couple of weeks ago I went over to a meeting of the local Doll Collectors’ Club to talk about preservation issues. I was in for a treat! Yes, Halloween and Thanksgiving are past now, but  I am thankful that these creatures are only dolls and not alive. I am sincerely hoping they won’t come and haunt my dreams, ever. The theme of the meeting was “Off the Wall Dolls”, the really weird dolls, that is.

There were 13 people present at the meeting, and all of them had lots of questions about how to best preserve their many many dolls. A variety of materials were involved: plastics, paper/clay compound, textiles, wood, paper, leather. I came armed with a bag full of archival supplier catalogs and product samples, ready to  advise on storage options. As in all collecting, it is important to preserve original packaging that the dolls came in.
In most cases I ended up recommending archival boxes and buffered tissue. If the doll packaging was already opened, the doll could be taken out of its original packaging and wrapped in buffered or unbuffered tissue.


The original packaging could also be wrapped in tissue. Then both things could go into an archival box and packed with balled up tissue to fill up the empty spaces in the box. Another solution is to use an archival polyethylene zip-locked bag for storing the doll. A sheet of Volara foam or Ethafoam can be inserted into the bag for support.


My favorite dude

This is the transparent middle-aged man. He even has little audio transmission holes on the back on his head, so apparently he used to have a sound component and batteries were meant to be inserted someplace. If only we knew what he used to say!

Hello to all!

This will be my last blog for the Preservation Department, not just for 2016, but going forward. Earlier this year, my department (Digital Initiatives,) broke away from the Preservation Department and teamed up with Digital Repository to become a new department, DSI (Digital Scholarship Initiatives.) So… Good-bye old…hello new!

I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog space and how I’ve utilized it during the years that I have been writing for it. Except for one, maybe two posts, they have all been about designing webpages and the challenges I have faced in creating them. I have to say I have learned as much about that process writing down my experiences as I have in creating the actual pages. Someone doesn’t really understand their position until they have to explain it to someone else. I haven’t always been good explaining my job to others, but the act of expressing those challenges on paper has allowed me to also teach myself, and in effect, become more confident of my skills. Sounds weird, but true.

In looking back over my blog posts over the years, I am struck at how constant is change. At one point in my blog writing, I noticed that as soon as I finished writing a blog about Dreamweaver webpage development, I was immediately thrown into developing and transferring our webpages to Drupal. From this constant change process, I have learned that I feel a lot more comfortable designing webpages…even when my comfort level is no longer safe. I mean to say that I have lived in such a constant upheaval environment in regards to designing web pages and the software that we use, over the last few years, that when I am no longer under constant stress of transferring to a new “something”, I feel empty and like: “what do I do know?” But do not worry gentle reader; my new supervisor has taken care of that.  Which is great for me. Instead of treading water, now I feel more in my element than ever before. (When things are flying at me a hundred miles per hour is the only way I feel I am functioning. And besides…times travel so much faster when hands are busy having fun!)

It amazes me that in a span of nine months, what started out as one little site called Digital Collections, way back in the early-mid 2000’s, and was a constant for many years, has morphed and bloomed into a larger site with Digital Collections just one of the sites underneath the umbrella called Digital Initiatives; the last half of the year has found me creating supplemental sites to compliment this new site. Every specialty will have it’s new home (Yearbooks, Online Exhibits, etc.)

But that’s just the future as envisioned in November 2016. Who knows what more changes are in store. All I know for sure is that one must buckle in and get set for a fun-filled bumpy ride into the future. I know I’m going to enjoy it. I hope you have learned as much from reading my blog posts as I have from writing them. It’s been real. Thanks for tagging along with my adventures.



Hi, I’m Jake Thompson and I have been working as a student assistant in the Scholarly Publishing Services unit since earlier this summer. My work mostly consists of uploading historic or back issues of student publications into the Iowa State University Digital Repository. Currently, we are working in collaboration with Special Collections to upload some of the earlier volumes of the historic student publication, The Iowa Homemaker.  Once completed, The Iowa Homemaker will be accessible to anyone around the world  on the Digital Repository’s website.


Digitized page from the magazine

The Iowa Homemaker was founded by the Home Economics Club in 1921.  It was the first magazine on Iowa State campus written by women for women.  The Iowa Homemaker covers a wide range of issues from “Canning Early Fruits and Vegetables” to “Can a Homemaker be a Citizen?”  It contains the excited energy of women trying to find their place in early twentieth century Iowa, and it offers a unique perspective on the history of Iowa State.  Familiar names like Beyer, Buchanan, and Cessna author article after article.  In 1926 the publication celebrated the grand opening of Mackay Hall, the new home of the College of Home Economics.  In 1943, nationwide tension is captured in the magazine’s numerous calls to aid in the war effort.  While this was a publication for homemakers in name, over time it began outgrowing that title and instead reflected women’s increasing interests outside of the home.

Ethel Cessna Morgan, Iowa State College Class of 1904

Ethel Cessna Morgan, Iowa State College Class of 1904

Ethyl Cessna Morgan was one of many women authors who wrote for the Iowa Homemaker magazine. One of her articles was about modernization of marriage. Ethyl taught at the Department of Economics. Among her achievements was being elected the President of the Ames League of Women Voters.

About a month ago, the Preservation Lab hosted a group of students taking an upper level class in Public History. In this course the students use archival materials as primary sources for the research they are conducting, drawing from the Library’s Special Collections and Archives. Spending time in the Preservation Lab gives them a behind the scenes look at what it takes to stabilize  original materials so that they can be viewed in the reading room.


As part of a practical  introduction to preservation, I demonstrated some hands-on conservation techniques that are often used to repair archival documents. Working on a discarded photoreproduction of Marston Hall, I removed some tape with a heated spatula and mended tears using wheat starch paste and Japanese tissue.

An interesting inter-disciplinary discussion happened around a group of WWII propaganda posters that were in the lab for conservation treatment. The posters were approximately 2 feet by 3 feet. They were staple-bound into a pad that was attached to a foldable easel made of cardboard.

rs16_3_57_bt_r   rs16_3_57_bt_v

The instructor and the students talked about the use of this object as a presentation tool, a 1940’s PowerPoint presentation of sorts. The speaker could take the easel-pad  along with them to give encouraging talks to the public about wartime efforts at home. As you can see from the photos above, the top poster had gotten torn and became detached from the pad.  If I were to take this object out of its historical context and to consider only its physical characteristics, I would want to take it apart, repair it and store all the components separately. The posters would go into one folder, while the easel and the staple binding would go into a different folder. Stored in this way, the posters would be safe and easy for scholars to handle  without the assistance of an archivist or a conservator.


However, the research value of this presentation pad lies in its format, which tells the story of its use as a WWII propaganda tool. So, my approach will be to disassemble the structure, repair the components and then to reassemble the binding using thread loops in place of the damaging rusty staples. The binding will be recreated, but slightly altered  to provide more stability and longevity to the object, ensuring the preservation of both its physical self and its contextual meaning.

This class discussion brought home to me the point that historians and conservators have an important conversation to carry out. In order to adequately preserve historic collections, we need to share our distinct areas of knowledge with each other, enriching each other’s understanding of primary source materials.