Welcome to Conservation and Collections Care

Conservation and Collections Care is responsible for activities that relate to the care and handling of physical materials in circulating and non-circulating collections of the University of Iowa Libraries. The department also engages in education as well as disaster response planning and preparedness.

The Conservation Lab provides specialized treatment for all of the Libraries’ collections, advises on issues of collection storage and use, and manages the preparation and installation of all materials for exhibition. Collections Care activities include environmental monitoring, commercial and in-house binding, book repair, and materials processing. The department works with digital initiatives to provide consultation, assessment and preparatory services for rare items.

Visit our staff page to meet current Conservation and Collections Care Staff.

Gary Frost in the UI Libraries conservation lab circa 2000
Gary Frost in the UI Libraries Conservation Lab circa 2000.

Department History

Conservation at the UI Libraries was founded by Bill Anthony in 1984, becoming a department in 1985. The Preservation Department was established in 1987, drawing together various preservation activities previously carried out in other departments. In the early 1990s, Preservation and Conservation were merged into a single department led by Nancy Kraft until 2020. The Conservation and Collections Care Department emerged in 2021, with Giselle Simón as department director.

During his time at the UI Libraries, Anthony also taught the first bookbinding classes for the UI Center for the Book in the Libraries Conservation Lab. This combination of service and training program was continued by Pam Spitzmueller, who was the conservator from 1989 to 1998. Gary Frost, now conservator emeritus, held the position from 1999-2011.

Giselle Simón joined the UI Libraries as conservator in 2012.

Learn more about the William Anthony Endowment and the history of conservation at the UI Libraries.

Bill Anthony sewing large book on wooden sewing frame at table
Bill Anthony sews large format book on sewing frame in UI Conservation Lab.
Pamela Spitzmueller holds a book with wooden boards and alum taw leather spine in front of bookshelfs
Pamela Spitzmueller, UI Library Conservator 1989-1998.