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On the road with the Poison Book Project

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Screenshot from an online talk, showing a row of five books. A small image in the upper right shows the faculty speaker who is delivering the talk.

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​Screenshot from the FAIC-sponsored Connecting to Collections Care (C2CC) Poison Book Project talk.​

​Poison Book Project team leads Melissa Tedone (Assistant Professor) and Dr. Rosie Grayburn (Winterthur Affiliated Associate Professor) have been busily engaged in public outreach activities throughout the Fall semester. 

Poison Book Project Invited Talks

In September, the AIC Preventive Conservation Network invited Melissa and Rosie to present on 'poison books' as part of the FAIC-sponsored Connecting to Collections Care (C2CC) Webinar Series. This webinar focused on practical strategies for identifying and managing arsenical bookbindings in small to mid-sized institutions and had 425 registrants. The C2CC webinar recording is available on YouTube. ​

In October, the team presented a virtual talk about the legacy of arsenic use in 19th-century Euro-American bookbindings for the Northland Society of Toxicologists in Minneapolis, MN. Toxicology research informs the Poison Book Project in significant ways, so the team was gratified to connect professionally with this group. Rosie presented a virtual talk – perfect for the spooky Halloween season – for over 100 members of Book Club of California, a non-profit organization founded in 1912 to support the interests of a diverse membership “united by a love of fine books and the marriage of content and craft." Melissa led a 'show & tell' style discussion about emerald green pigment in bookbindings and ephemera in Winterthur Library collections for the Board of the Ephemera Society of America. ​

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Images of people attending a talk and posing for photos.

​Left: Melissa Tedone and Rosie Grayburn give the keynote lecture at the Cleveland Poison Symposia, sponsored by the Akron Section of the American Chemical Society.​ Right: Holly Morrison (co-organizer), Rosie Grayburn, Mike Fricke (co-organizer), Deborah Schulman (co-organizer), and Melissa Tedone at the Cleveland Poison Symposia.​

​In November, Melissa and Rosie gave the keynote lecture at the Cleveland Poison Symposia, which presented six talks in a unique pub crawl format organized by the Akron Section of the American Chemical Society. This dynamic event explored arsenic, the so-called 'king of poisons,' as a chemical weapon (lewisite), a deliberate murder weapon, a dangerous food additive, and a potentially deadly pigment. Melissa and Rosie also met with STEM scholars and faculty at Lake Erie College in Painesville, OH, to talk about poison books and art conservation more broadly. Also in November, Melissa presented a virtual Poison Book Project talk hosted by the American Bookbinders Museum, “the only museum in North America dedicated to preserving and promoting the art and history of bookbinding," located in San Francisco, CA.  

Bibliotoxicology Working Group (BibTox)

The Bibliotoxicology Working Group (BibTox) is an ad-hoc, international cohort of conservators, cultural heritage scientists, librarians, collection managers, book historians, and health and safety professionals first convened by co-chairs Melissa Tedone and Rosie Grayburn in January 2022. The group's goals are (1) to define reliable identification techniques for toxic substances in library and archives materials; (2) to define safer management strategies for such collections; and (3) to share reliable information broadly and publicly. 

Melissa and Rosie presented their poster about how the Poison Book Project led to the formation of the Bibliotoxicology Working Group at two venues: the Hazardous Heritage Congress in Antwerp, Belgium (October 23, 2023), and the Safety and Cultural Heritage Summit in Washington, DC (October 27, 2023). As a result, they recruited several new members to the working group. 

The project team appreciates these opportunities to share their highly interdisciplinary work with new and diverse audiences. Whether connecting with book collectors, library and museum professionals, students, chemists, or toxicologists, the team is inspired by the questions posed by every audience. This engagement not only helps spread awareness about these potentially hazardous heritage collections, but also informs the directions in which this ongoing research evolves. 

To learn more, visit The Poison Book Project Wiki.​


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Copy of poster presented at conferences, including venn diagram of the overlap between the research project and working group.

​Poster about how the Poison Book Project led to the formation of the Bibliotoxicology Working Group.

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Poison Book Project team leads Dr. Melissa Tedone (Assistant Professor) and Dr. Rosie Grayburn (Winterthur Affiliated Associate Professor) have been busily engaged in public outreach activities throughout the Fall semester.
 
 
11/22/2023
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