April 5, 2006 Nels Olson Named Chief of Preservation Research at Library of Congress

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639

Nels Olson has recently been named as chief of the Preservation Research and Testing Division (PRTD) at the Library of Congress.

Dianne L. van der Reyden, director for Preservation for the Library of Congress, said Olson, who has led several preservation projects for cultural heritage, brings to the Library a unique combination of experience and education, ranging from early studies in American literature to posts as engineer and chemist. Prior to the Library’s appointment, he served as associate director for systems analysis and integration at Illumina Inc., a biotechnology company in California.

“We expect Dr. Olson to bring much vigor and rigor to PRTD, expanding the lab’s expertise and equipment, and ensuring widespread research to improve the Library’s collections in all formats—traditional, audiovisual and digital,” van der Reyden said. “This includes research into the stabilization of traditional vellum and leather books, acidic and recycled paper, and vintage coatings or modern inkjet dyes in photographs; audiovisual materials such as sticky shedding videotapes and flaking lacquer disk sound recordings; and digital media, characterizing optical disks to determine life expectancy.”

Olson also would lead PRTD in meeting new challenges in storage and access research, and in developing a robust science fellowship program. “His experience puts him in good stead to enhance the lab’s capabilities to meet the needs of 21st century libraries, and we are delighted to have him on board,” van der Reyden said.

Olson, who started his academic career as an American literature major at the University of Oregon, received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Reed College in 1989, and a Ph.D. in organic synthesis/analytical chemistry from the University of Washington in 1997. Olson’s work has led to several patents in new ways to analyze materials.

In addition to Illumina Inc., he has worked at Molecular Dynamics/Amersham Pharmacia Biotech; at Molecular Probes Inc; and at Microsoft Corp. Prior to his work in the biotechnology field, he was a project area manager at the Surface Chemistry Institute located at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. During his second year there, he was also a concurrent assistant professor in the newly formed Department of Surface Chemistry and a Fulbright Grant recipient at the Royal Institute.


PR 06-079
ISSN 0731-3527