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University of Iowa News Release


Dec. 17, 2009

MEDIA ADVISORY: UI preservationists restore Czech, Slovak phonograph records

WHAT: The University of Iowa Libraries Preservation Department has completed restoration of approximately 1,500 flood-damaged phonograph records from the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (NCSML) in Cedar Rapids. The media is invited to visit the Preservation Department to talk with preservationists and NCSML staff and see the work that has been done.

WHEN: 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 18

WHERE: Preservation Department, ground floor, UI Main Library. Enter the Main Library south entrance.

WHO: Nancy E. Kraft, head of the Preservation Department at University of Iowa Libraries will return the records to David Muhlena, library director, NCSML. Both will be available for interview.


The NCSML's entire collection of 5,000 phonograph records was damaged from the flooding of the Cedar River on June 13, 2008.  The collection documents 80 years of recorded Czech and Slovak music, representing a variety of musical genres and playing styles as expressed in the United States and in former Czechoslovakia. Each recording was covered with mold, bacteria, and river debris, and showed obvious signs of damage.

Approximately 1,500 33 rpm and 45 rpm have been cleaned and will be returned to the museum. Final restoration work on the remainder of the collection - composed of 78 rpm records -- will begin in January 2010.

Kraft said recovery of the phonograph records was labor intensive, with UI Libraries conservation lab staff spending more than 500 hours on the project. After retrieving the records, staff wore facemasks and gloves and worked in July and August 2008 offsite to rinse river debris from the records and covers. The records were then transferred in September 2008 to the UI Libraries Conservation Lab for a more intense cleaning. Each record was washed in distilled water, air dried, and inserted into a new archival protective plastic sleeve.

"The covers were so contaminated that the image was peeled away from the cardboard," Kraft added.

The covers were cleaned, flattened and then inserted into a polyethylene sleeve along with a three-flap enclosure to hold the record. The archival paper for the three-flap enclosures was donated by Archival Products in Des Moines.

A new water purification system and conservation treatment sink that features a constant circulation and ultra-violet irradiation gate to prevent growth of bacteria and mold was installed in the conservation before beginning the record cleaning effort. This sink and water system and record cleaning were supported in part by the State Historical Society of Iowa's Historical Resource Development Program.

"The UI Libraries Preservation Department has been wonderful to work with," Muhlena said. "Immediately after the flood, Nancy Kraft and her staff worked with us to recover items in our collections that were damaged, and they have spent more than a year carefully restoring our flood-damaged phonograph records. We are fortunate to have this great resource only 30 minutes away from us. Imagine trying to ship thousands of damaged, delicate phonograph records to Chicago or New York for restoration."

For more photos and information about the record cleaning project see
Photos at

And blog entries at the UI Libraries Preservation Department Blog Preservation Beat at

For NCSML flood recovery updates see

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Leah Wilson, director of marketing and communications for the
National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, 319-447-5541,;
George McCrory, UI News Services, 319-384-0012,