A conservator in Cincinnati

Moving from sunny California to the “most northern southern city, and the most eastern Midwest city,” A.K.A. Cincinnati, I’ve found that I love living in a climate with the change of seasons. In particular, one of my favorite sightings on the University of Cincinnati campus made me feel as though I was living in an page of an Andy Goldsworthy book! Just before this yellow ginkgo tree began to lose its leaves, the ground received a light autumn dusting of snow that whimsically highlighted the presence of the tree’s newly fallen leaves.


The Preservation lab serves both the University of Cincinnati Libraries and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, which are heavily used, large library systems. UCL includes 10 academic libraries and PLCH serves patrons at 42 branch locations. Both institutions also own interesting special collections of rare books that I perform physical and chemical treatments on in order to restore functionality and preserve so they can be exhibited and handled by researchers.

Did you know that the Public Library of Cincinnati has one of Audubon’s lithographed elephant folios of Birds of America on display and owns the complete first edition of Animal Locomotion albums by Eadweard Muybridge (and much more)? Me neither! I was equally excited to find out that UCL has an exquisite collection of miniature rare books, which I learned about during a “50 Minutes-1Book” lecture that is open to the public once a month during lunch. These lectures, put together by Rare Book Librarian Kevin Grace, include various guest lecturers and a myriad of topics.

Aside from dealing with the changes in weather and learning about the institutions, working in the lab has been an exciting adventure. Each day there are new experiences and challenges working with two institutions. Whether it is examining objects, assessing environmental conditions, preparing for disaster and recovery, exhibit prep, treatments, or conducting workshops, there’s never a dull day! Best of all, I have a great set of staff to lean on who are amazing problem solvers and talented book binders with a wonderful sense of humor. As mentioned by our tech Veronica in the S Saga blog, our team joyfully took on the challenge of making J.J. Abrams book usable for library patrons while preserving its original format as much as possible. The team has also been very interested in learning new treatment techniques and discovering how to tailor enclosures for the specific needs of individual books. The Preservation Lab is a dynamic and growing lab. I’m thrilled to be here to collaborate with the staff at UCL and PLCH to preserve their general circulating materials and valuable special collection items, all of which I’ve already grown quite fond of.

Ashleigh Schieszer (PLCH) — Book and Paper Conservator, Lab Manager


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