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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 21, 2005

UI Libraries Conservator To Help Save Historical Collections Damaged By Katrina

The conservator from the preservation department of the University of Iowa Libraries is headed to Mississippi to help begin the process of saving cultural and historical collections damaged by hurricane Katrina.

Gary Frost leaves Thursday, Sept. 22, for a one-week trip to the Gulf Coast. His team will visit numerous museum, archives and libraries in Mississippi cities to offer an initial assessment of the damage.

"In some cases there are vaults that haven't been opened and collection storage areas that people haven't entered since the storm. Our job will be to assess the damage to collections. Utilizing our recommendations, later crews will begin the salvage of items," Frost said.

Frost will join a six-member team that will visit institutions in cities like Gulfport, Biloxi, Greenwood and Bay St. Louis. They will travel in a Winnebago recreational vehicle that will serve as a self-contained mobile lab and living quarters. Frost said that the biggest problem he expects to find is mold. "There will be incredible blooms of mold," he said. "Water damage won't be much of a problem now because the flood has receded, but these items have been sitting for weeks, so the mold growth will be significant."

Now that safety issues have been addressed, Frost said it was important for the salvage of historical collections to begin. "The Gulf Coast region is so important to our history that we must now focus on preserving its legacy," he added.

Frost's team is part of a larger effort by conservators and archivists from around the country who are heading to the Gulf Coast region under the auspices of the American Association for State and Local History and the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

UI Executive Vice President and Provost Michael Hogan is coordinating UI efforts to support those affected by Hurricane Katrina. The most current information regarding UI relief efforts is available online, http://news.uiowa.edu/hurricane/

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010, tom-snee@uiowa.edu.