PDA Event: Poison in the Stacks? Ongoing Research on Heavy Metals in 19th Century Books

Tuesday, April 30, 2024 - 1:00pm to 2:30pm

Recent research in the cultural heritage field has identified the presence of arsenic and other heavy metals in pigments used on 19th Century books. How does this impact libraries with older books in their collections? This webinar will provide a brief introduction to this area of research and how it became a hot topic in the conservation field, and an overview of projects currently underway at three Illinois universities. Staff from Northwestern University, University of Chicago, and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign will discuss their ongoing research, as well as access and handling policies for 19th C. materials, at their respective institutions. We will also provide information to help smaller institutions decide how they may want to approach potentially toxic heavy metals in their own collections.


Patti Gibbons is the Head of Collection Management at the University of Chicago's Special Collections Research Center. She has been preserving rare book, archival, and museum collections since the 90s. She holds a MA in Museum Studies from the University of Washington and a MLIS from the University of Illinois.

Tonia Grafakos is the Marie A. Quinlan Director of Preservation at Northwestern University Libraries.  She is a Professional Member of the American Institute for Conservation and earned a MSIS with an Advanced Certificate in Conservation from the University of Texas at Austin.

Shelby Strommer (she/her) is the Collections Care Coordinator at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library. She holds a Master of Science in Information, with a specialization in Preservation of Information, from the University of Michigan. She is also a member of the National Heritage Responders, a volunteer group of professionals who provide support to cultural heritage institutions during emergencies and disaster recovery.

Register to attend live. This webinar will not be recorded.

This CARLI Preservation Committee event is open to all Illinois libraries and members of the Professional Development Alliance.