Chela Metzger graduated with an interdisciplinary B.A. from The Evergreen State College in 1985. After completing her masters in Library and Information Studies from Simmons College in 1990, she entered the North Bennet Street School in Boston, graduating two years later with a certificate in hand bookbinding. She then received a Kress grant to complete a nine month internship in Advanced Rare Book Conservation at the Library of Congress, and began work as a project conservator at The Huntington Library in Los Angeles in 1994. During her five and one half years at The Huntington Library, she completed different projects, ranging from treating collections of bound pamphlets from the English Civil War period and 19th century children's art education books, to collaborating with visiting South American conservators. Her work with colleagues from Latin America led to a teaching Fulbright in Buenos Aires in 2000, where she taught rare book conservation to students from libraries and archives all over Argentina. From 2001 to 2010, she worked at the former University of Texas Preservation and Conservation Studies graduate program as a lecturer in book conservation and the history of the book. While in Texas her conservation work was often done in collaboration with students, and she treated a wide variety of bound materials including a first edition of Samuel Johnson's 1755 Dictionary, a 1584 Mexican Psalter, and a 1497 Venetian latin law treatise. She was awarded a teaching award from the University of Texas alumni association in 2004.
Chela has taught rare book conservation and bookbinding workshops both in the US and in Latin America, including work in Mexico, Peru, Guatemala and Chile. She was recently awarded a Winterthur Fellowship to study early American account books held in the Winterthur Downs Collection, and has lectured nationally on the history and technical processes of early modern account book bindings. She regularly reviews new history of bookbinding titles for the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing, and served as a co-editor of the former peer-reviewed journal "The Bonefolder: an E-Journal for the Bookbinder and Book Artist". Chela is an avid bicycling advocate, a train travel booster, and an explorer of desert landscapes. She began work as Conservator of Library Collections at Winterthur in December of 2010.