Friday, April 30, 2010

Preservation & Conservation

I had a really good time volunteering at the Preservation and Conservation lab today! Since we do (what I think is) some pretty neat stuff, I thought that I would take some pictures and give a play-by-play of what I do there :) Get ready for a journey of AWESOMENESS!! lol :)

1. I walk to the lab, and put on my apron! I used to use the aprons they had there, but I got one for my birthday from World Market (pictures below). I think it is so pretty! My favorite part is the pink rickrack on the pockets and bottom hem. It's almost too pretty to get dirty with leather red rot, glue, and various other hazards of book repair. ALMOST. lol.

2. Once I put on my apron I set up my workstation. I usually lay down a piece of heavy brown craft paper to cover my desk so that I don't get the desk dirty, it makes cleaning up all the little pieces of paper, book, and dust much easier! I also take out my toolkit (pictures below). It contains many things with which I was totally unfamiliar, some that I was like "oh yeah I know what a paintbrush is" (lol), and some that I was surprised to find (like a scalpel!). I have various paintbrushes, a ruler, scissors, a scalpel, a bone folder, a teflon folder, sandpaper, a needle, waxed thread, a book knife, 2 spatulas (one small one large) and some other things I'm sure I am forgetting! I also make sure my station has a cutting mat, a container of PVA (aka white glue), and a small cup of water for dirty brushes. Sometimes I change the blade on my scalpel. That part is scary. lol

3. I go back to my shelf (which is where I keep my toolkit and any works in progress) and take out the books I am working on. When I got to the lab today I was in the middle of working on 3 books, and am now in the middle of working on 5! Because I am still learning I still need my supervisor to walk me through pretty much every step, and when she goes on lunch/while various glued things are drying I sometimes run out of things to do, hence starting 2 more books today. So, in the next steps we will go through the repair I am learning how to do!

4. The repair I am learning is called a Princeton 305. This is what the books generally look like when I start working on them:

As you can see, the spines are usually falling off, and the boards are either completely detached or falling off. I begin by taking off the spine, and removing the boards (careful not to cut too short some strings that sometimes attach the textblock/pages to the boards).

5. Then, for the leather-bound books, I detach the leather from the ends of the boards. Depending on how badly damaged the leather is, sometimes you have to remove the leather entirely to replace it, but in the picture below the leather has remained intact.

6. I then use something called methyl cellulose to scrape down the spine of the book. I put the book in a press (I think they're called so that I have both my hands free, then I use a paintbrush to brush the methyl cellulose on. I let it sit for a few minutes to soften the paper and glue that are on the spine, and then use my spatula to scrape it down! Depending on the book this can either take me a few minutes or close to an I had some difficult ones, like the original 3 I was working on, but the one I started today was not too bad.

7. After I scrape down the spine, I make sure I have sanded down the inside of the boards so the old endsheets (paper attaching the boards to the inside of the book, usually blank pages at the beginning and end of books) are not too bulky. Then I glue new endsheets onto the textblock. This got tricky on one of my original 3 books, because one of the signatures, or group of pages, fell off! I then got to sew it back on, which is actually what I did when I first got to the lab today. It was really hard. And totally awesome!

8. After the endsheets are glued onto the textblock, I glue down new supercloth, which reinforces the shape of the book's spine. I then glue a piece of paper on top of the supercloth (which, as far as I can tell, is for more reinforcement? And also, eventually, to glue the spine back on).

9. There are more steps, but maybe I will wait until next week to post them, because this entry is really long and I also don't completely remember them all, as I have not totally completed a repair of this kind before! The books I did before these 5 were just spine repairs. Thanks for reading if you got this far!! lol :)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cute Food

ZOMG! So, when I blog, I realize I do not always sound like the most sophisticated person around. That's okay with me. But these adorable pie pops (see below) have reduced me to the vocabulary of a....monkey, or something. lol they are super cute! Someday soon I'd love to try making pie pops, as well as cake pops and/or cupcake pops, which I learned about from the Bakerella blog ( I am posting a few pictures below but you should totally check Bakerella out, as well as EpiCute for more super cute food! :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Web 2.0, Library Skillz (that's right, with a z) and more

So tonight in one of my GSLIS (grad school) classes we had a discussion about Web 2.0, and the importance of keeping up to date with technology and technology related skills in the field of library and information sciences. One of the things we discussed was blogs, both related to the field and personal. My friend/classmate Emily and I both keep blogs and, without discussing it first, had both decided during this discussion to blog about tonight's class and share it on our course web page :)

One thought I had during class tonight that I wasn't sure when to share was how daunting all of this Web 2.0 technology seems to me. I often browse library and LIS-related job ads to see what the descriptions say and what I would be comfortable applying for. Many, if not most of these job ads list web design skills or familiarity as requirements for the job. Now, my mother may think that I'm some sort of computer guru because I know how to update my Facebook status, but I know pretty much nothing about web design. I can use very rudimentary HTML code, like I could probably make something bold for example, but that's about as far as my knowledge reaches. We talked about web design and other technological skills and how things such as database and other code-related topics are covered in some of GSLIS's classes. However, since I am doing our program's Certificate in Special Collections, I try to take as many rare book/special collections classes as I can while I am here. So while some people may be taking say, community informatics over the summer, I am taking Bookbinding and Paper in the Scholarly World, two classes which will likely do next to nothing to advance my technological skill set!

I'm so torn when it comes to technology in libraries. I hope someday to work in a museum or library in a preservation/conservation related job, and though digital preservation is obviously becoming hugely important to this field, I don't know enough about these kinds of jobs to say how necessary technological skills will be to any future job I may hold. With the wealth of information and tutorials available on topics such as HTML, web design, and even using YouTube, Facebook, and other social media sites, I feel like if I put aside the time and effort I could probably attempt to teach myself some rudimentary skills in these areas. However, the approach I have taken so far to my education is that 1. Old books will only continue to get older as time advances and 2. The people who know now how to preserve these old books won't be around forever, so someone has to pick up the torch. I'm hoping that by learning the somewhat specialized skills involved in the preservation and conservation of books and documents I will be marketable when it comes time to find a job, but I do worry realistically about the fact that I will be a new library school grad with very little experience with technology (not to mention very little job experience on my resume, as graduate assistantships here are harder to find than Carmen Sandiego).

So.....that's my 2 cents and more on the topic of technology! As you can probably tell from my previous entries, this blog doesn't often deal with library issues and I probably won't ever market it as a library-related blog, but I will occasionally blog on library stuff just because I enjoy it so much :) below is a list of library blogs I read, and I don't know how to make them hyperlinks so if anyone can clue me in on that that would be great! :) lol


1. Awful Library Books at
2. Library of Congress blog at
3. The Adventures of an Unemployed Librarian at
4. Closed Stacks at
5. The Food Librarian at

I occasionally visit other library blogs that I have found through this list of library-related blogs!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Few Of My Favorite Things

So it's been raining here for the past two or three days, and I'm going a little stir-crazy. Since I am stuck in my apartment, I decided to make the best of it by taking a few pictures! You can view them here on my brand-new fancy Flickr site :)

Sorry about there being no hyperlink or whatever you call it, I'm still figuring out this whole blog thing and I haven't figured out how to make it clickable yet, lol. There are pictures of the fancy doorknobs, light switch covers, my sink with TWO faucets, and some of my favorite knicknacks, including a pretty ring, vase, Nutcracker tart warmer from Yankee Candle, dressers, wall of Playbills, and chocolate milk making pitcher :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Theory of Relativity

To begin, a quote from Mark Twain regarding the work of one Jane Austen:

"I haven't any right to criticize books, and I don't do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read 'Pride and Prejudice,' I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone." (found at:

...say WHAT now?? Many people consider Jane Austen's novels to be some of the finest written in the English language. So why the hate, Mark Twain? HUH??

This may sound like a stupid or obvious thing to say, but people's opinions are all relative. Someone may like you, another person may hate you, and it may not be for anything that you have done but simply because these two people have different tastes! Check out the links above and below for more famous authors dissing one another, it's pretty funny. This also reminds me of a famous factoid, that Michael Jordan didn't even make his high school basketball team the first time he tried out. All of this provides me some comfort, that try as I might I will never please everyone with the work that I do, so as long as I put my best effort in and do a job that I am pleased with, I can be content in life.

More author disses:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

More Inspiration

So I suppose to make up for the lack of consistent posting I will just post again, because I am somewhat of an insomniac tonight.

Check this out!!

This is a video of Caissie Levy singing "How To Return Home" by Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk. I am pretty much obsessed with it right now. Not only does Caissie have an incredible voice, but I am so drawn to the melody and lyrics. I feel the same way about another song of theirs, "Run Away With Me," and I hope to have more time soon to investigate their other songs. It is songwriters like them, and Lin Manuel Miranda, and Scott Alan, etc etc of modern times who have been inspiring me lately. I hope someday soon to refine my piano skills and maybe write some songs of my own!! Of course, I don't have a piano, but hey my old Casio will do for now. lol :)

A Change In Plans!

So I am a big believer in God, and that everything (good and bad) happens for a reason. Sometimes your plans can change at the last minute, but sometimes that is not necessarily a bad thing!

For example: I had spent quite a few hours dissecting my summer and fall class schedules. I carefully planned the timing of each class, the number of credit hours I was taking, which classes were requirements and which were just for fun, etc. I had accepted the fact that I didn't get into one or two classes over the summer that I REALLY wanted to take and are not offered very often, and had tailored my schedule just so.


All that changed when I found out that even though I was on the waiting list for one of the summer classes I really wanted to take but wasn't planning on taking, I got in!!! So now I had the option to take Bookbinding. The problem was that this messed up all my other credit hours for summer AND fall, and so I had to change my schedule around again! I did this, then found out that I got into ANOTHER class for summer that I didn't think I was going to get into! So I changed my schedule AGAIN! :)

All of that to say that sometimes even when you think you are totally in control, it is interesting to have those moments where everything you have carefully planned gets thrown in the trash in a second to make way for plans that are so much better than you could have ever imagined for yourself :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Burnt Out

I feel like it has been a very long time since I've written in this blog! I'll have to check the last date.

I have been pretty busy with school lately. My first semester of graduate school is ending and I couldn't be happier! Not that it hasn't been super fun, it has been. For example, last week on Thursday and Friday my Library Buildings class took a field trip to Chicago and the surrounding suburbs to look at some libraries with our professor. Not only did we get to see some pretty cool libraries, but we got to talk in person with the staff and see staff areas of libraries and discuss what worked, what didn't, etc. This might sound kind of lame but it was really cool! My favorite that we visited was the Riverside Public Library (picture below). It is done in an "arts and crafts" style which basically means medieval revival and it looks like a castle! It is also featured in a children's picture book called "Bats In The Library!" We also saw a really cool statue of an elephant made out of old newspaper articles about the library (this was NOT at Riverside, I forgot which library this was at!).

So, even though I had lots of fun on our field trip, I am excited for this semester to be done so I can start my summer and fall classes! I will be taking Paper in the Scholarly World, Rare Books, and another intro class over the summer, and then I will be taking Preservation, History of the Book, and Youth Services Librarianship over the fall!

What else. I had to make a sort of tough decision this weekend that I am not ready to share with the world yet. All I can say is that it was the right decision for me and for the others involved, and I am glad to be back in Champaign with less stress involved in my life!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


If you have a few minutes, you should watch this:

It's a video about one of my favorite musicals, "In The Heights," and the process it went through to get to Broadway. This may sound boring to some of you but trust me, it's pretty incredible. It's more about the people, the writers, the actors, the creative team, and their lives and how they interconnect with the musical....kind of hard to explain but it's pretty awesome.

Sometimes I find myself just completely in awe of how creative some people are. I hope someday to write a song, or a play, or maybe even a whole musical that is even a fraction as good as some of the ones that I have seen. There are times I wish I hadn't been so shy in elementary/middle/high school, that I would have stepped up to the plate and owned up to what I really wanted to do with my life (be a music major). I know, though, that everything happens for a reason, and I'm here at U of I for a reason, and wherever I go after this will all be a part of God's plan for me and I just have to trust it. Sometimes I wish I were more trusting! But I know that if this is truly a dream of mine, to be on Broadway or to even just put on a show in some dinky little community theater, I will have to work hard at it. I don't know if I have the capacity to do that right now, but I hope that when the time is right and the idea is right and everything lines up where it should be that I will know, and I will follow my creativity to some totally awesome end. We'll see what happens! :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Champaign's Wildlife

Every day I wake up and immediately put on my shoes to take Zoey for a 40 minute walk in the morning. We always take the same route, straight down my street for a certain number of blocks and then we turn around. On the last block before we turn around to come back to my house there is a house that I call the "backwards house" because its porch looks like a deck that should be on the back of a house. There are always beer bottles, red cups, and other assorted remnants of fraternity-style debauchery on their lawn, I can't imagine their neighbors like them much.

However, the strangest thing about this house is the cat I sometimes see outside. The last time I saw it was a few weeks ago, but I had another sighting tonight! It ran straight up to Zoey and I as if to say, "Excuse me, what are you doing, this is MY lawn!" I assume it lives there because I've seen some Scoop-Away litter and other cat-related items on their porch-deck. She (because in my mind all cats are girls) took a few swipes at Zoey, so that is why none of the pictures turned out very well, lol. This cat is like Rory's diluted twin sister, like if someone put Rory in the washing machine. Below is a picture of Rory, my cat, then Zoey, my dog, and the pictures I snapped of the ever elusive frat house cat :) The images got switched around so the outside cat is first, then my animals.


Things I am excited for:

1. Friends coming to visit tomorrow!!!

2. Registering for summer and fall classes this week!!

3. I got my tax refund, and even though it wasn't as much as I was hoping, it's still more than I had before!

4. Another friend coming to visit on Wednesday to watch my dog for me while....

5. We leave for our Library Buildings overnight field trip to Chicago on Thursday, which means I get to skip my least favorite class!!

6. My mom is coming to visit next weekend!!

7. I'm not really excited for this since it already happened, but I NetFlixed "I Love You, Man" and watched it last night and it was really funny (again)!

8. I am excited for the weather to continue to get warmer!

9. I am always excited when I look at the wall in my living room. It is covered in Playbills and 2 windowcards from Broadway shows, which always cheer me up :)

10. Finishing the book I am currently reading so that I can start reading "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


I have been wanting to do this post for a few days now, but it has been so nice outside that I have been, well, outside! Sort of. And procrastinating doing homework (as usual...), and watching TV, and reading......but it is a rainy day, and what better way to cheer up on an inside, rainy day than to look at how beautiful nature can be??

Below are a bunch of pictures of flowers I have found while walking around my neighborhood. A few came from my backyard! There are forget-me-nots and daffodils, and then there are a bunch that I have yet to identify. Maybe I should use my Flowers book from the previous post :) lol. I recently decided that forget-me-nots and daffodils are 2 of my favorite flowers, though. I had a teacher in elementary school who ADORED forget-me-nots, and she made me love them too :) Daffodils are just so bright and happy!! I especially like the paler yellow ones, but the bright yellow ones are pretty cute too. They are like happy little flower trumpets bursting out to say hello!! One of my favorite pictures below is of some tiny, miniature daffodils I found outside of the GSLIS building (where I have all my classes). I held up a penny next to it for size reference---they were so adorable!!

Enjoy your Easter holiday! I am thankful for God who gives us all of these beautiful things :)