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Conservation Unit

The Conservation unit was founded by Bill Anthony in 1984. He established a range of services to Special Collections and managed Mellon Foundation Apprenticeships. Bill also taught the first bookbinding classes for the University of Iowa’s Center for the Book in the Library’s Conservation Lab. This combination 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. The current staff of the Conservation Unit includes Giselle Simón, Conservator; Elizabeth Stone, Assistant Conservator; Linda Lundy, Conservation Assistant; Julie Smith, Conservation Assistant; Bill Voss, Exhibit Preparator; and Candida Pagan, Project Conservator.

The Conservation unit provides physical treatment for all of the Library’s collections and advises on issues of collection storage and use. Damaged rare books, manuscripts and maps are cleaned, stabilized, mended and provided with custom protective enclosures. Circulating books, pamphlets and music are reinforced for continuing use and items damaged by water and mold are salvaged. The Conservation unit works within the digitization workflow to provide consultation, assessment and preparatory services for rare items. The Unit also manages the preparation and installation of all materials for exhibition.

Conservation Lab 30th Anniversary

Resource Center

The Conservation unit is a resource center for those interested in information on book conservation methods or those with interests in the arts, crafts and research fields of the book. The Conservation Unit has an important collection of historical binding models.

The Conservation Unit operates from a 1484 square foot laboratory facility on the fifth floor of the Main Library. For further information contact Giselle Simón, Conservator, 100 Main Library, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, 52242, 319.335.5033 or

Conservation area

Photos by Thomas P Jorgensen