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University of Iowa News Release


May 21, 2007

UI Center For The Book Awarded Prestigious Grant To Preserve Paper

Thanks to a special impact grant of $184,740 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), a University of Iowa researcher will undertake a new analytical survey of western paper made between the 14th and the 19th centuries. The results of the research will allow conservators and other preservation specialists at museums and libraries to make better-informed treatment and collections care decisions.

Tim Barrett, a UI Center for the Book research scientist and original grant writer, said a large portion of paper from the earlier centuries is still in exceptional condition.

"In spite of the fact it's more than 500 years old, many of these sheets are still surprisingly light in color, supple and strong," Barrett said. "This research will attempt to learn more about why they are so exceptionally stable, and why many other papers from later centuries are prone to rapid degradation."

The IMLS Conservation Support Program grant made to Barrett, with the UI Museum of Art (UIMA) acting as administrative host, was one of 40 awarded from a pool of 144 applications. Conservation Project Support awards help museums identify conservation needs and priorities and perform activities to ensure the safekeeping of their collections.

UIMA Director Howard Collinson said he was pleased with news of the award. "Our collections are not in urgent need of actual conservation treatment at this time so it is an opportune moment to place emphasis on advancing the entire field of conservation studies with this compelling basic research," he said.

"The urgent need for this federal conservation assistance was recently underscored by the Heritage Health Index, the first comprehensive survey ever conducted of the conditions and preservation needs of our nation's collections," said Anne-Imelda M. Radice, IMLS director. "Conducted by Heritage Preservation in partnership with IMLS, the Heritage Health Index found that immediate action is needed to prevent the loss of millions of irreplaceable artifacts."

The UI Office of the Vice President for Research supplied matching funds for non-destructive testing instrumentation, and the UI Center for the Book and the UI Graduate College contributed a portion of Barrett's time to the IMLS grant proposal.

The UIMA pursues the University of Iowa's mission of education and research in service to the people of Iowa by facilitating the meaningful and significant experience of works of art. The UI Center for the Book, where Barrett serves as paper specialist, researches the impact of the book on society and culture, exposes scholars to historical production techniques, trains students in the creation of fine press and artists books, and awards a graduate certificate. The center is an innovative, interdisciplinary research and arts unit located within the University of Iowa Graduate College.

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Lois J. Gray, 319-384-0077,

PROGRAM: IMLS: Jeannine Mjoseth, public relations, 202-653-4632 or; research project details: Tim Barrett, principal investigator, 319-621-2493,; UI Museum of Art: Howard Collinson, director, 319-335-1727,; or UI Center for the Book: Matthew P. Brown, director, 319-335-2365,