We in Special Collections recently pulled a bit of a MacGyver to help transport oversize paper items a bit more easily, and Preservation Librarian Craig Fansler and I are here to boast about it.

When historians think of archives, they often think of labeled boxes full of labeled folders, perhaps not easy to carry but certainly box-sized. Of course, Special Collections contains any number of other types of items, including but not limited to rare books, unpublished manuscripts, rare maps, artifacts of all kinds (banners, coins, koozies, and everything in between).

Since we’re in the midst of the 100th anniversary of World War I, Special Collections Librarian Megan Mulder has been making more frequent use of our collection of World War I-era posters. These posters, mostly created by U.S. government offices, are large and also fragile, an unfortunate combination. Wartime-era paper is a great example of how rationing can trickle into many aspects of life – you can tell they were rationing the various components of the paper, as well as steel and food.

Because the posters are oversized, getting them into our Research Room (ZSR625) can involve an ungraceful amount of wrestling folders that are almost my height and span longer than my arms can handle, too. And I’m the tallest in the department! Carts that are designed to move oversize items and folders are available for purchase but cost around $600; it’s not a guarantee that they would be navigable in our stacks areas, either – the flat file cases that hold these oversize folders are located behind narrow shelves and navigation gets complicated.

Take it away, Craig – how did you fix it?

Special Collections Map Cart

What else is a Preservation Librarian to do when a good friend and colleague shows up with a huge stack of posters? Help them move them gladly, of course! Our team had been batting around the idea of a “map cart” for some time and Tanya Zanish-Belcher had sent me some great visual ideas. In addition to these fragile WWI posters, we also had to move large, elderly maps around from our map cases into our classroom. Without a good conveyance, these maps might have a rough voyage. I remembered a seldom-used, large plant-moving dolly that I had Facilities build back in the 1990’s and felt it would be a perfect base for the map/poster cart. To save us some money and help us test a cart’s abilities in our stacks, I re-purposed an existing wooden flatbed that had been used elsewhere previously.

To turn a plant mover into a map and poster mover, I constructed a foam core triangle to sit on top of the dolly and added book-cloth straps Voila – we had a cart for safely moving large, fragile objects. This will help us move our larger Special Collections materials around without damaging them. No more armfuls of posters taller than us anymore! Look for the cart on Reynolds 6, or ask us for a demonstration.