Employees with the National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids expected to get up to a couple feet of water during the flood of 2008.
They got eight.
So even though they evacuated hundreds of valuables and moved any remaining books, phonograph records, posters and maps about three feet off the ground, the damage was immense. Losses totaled more than $11 million.
But even before floodwaters receded to reveal the level of destruction, preservation and conservation experts with the University of Iowa Libraries were providing help in the form of advice.
But over the past seven years the UI Conservation Lab has managed to treat more than 8,000 items, 100 boxes of manuscripts and 11,000 single sheets of paper affected by the flood at a reduced cost thanks, in part, to the help of students and volunteers.
“If they went to a traditional conservation lab, it would have cost double,” she said, adding that a traditional lab also would have taken longer because it would have had to squeeze the Cedar Rapids project in among its other work.