Head, Special Collections Dept.
Born in Budapest, Hungary, Lilla Vekerdy earned her masters degree with a teacher’s certificate in literature and linguistics, and her second masters in library sciences at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest in 1984. In all three fields, her studies included areas of concentration in history, and she specialized in complex studies of medieval manuscripts and early printed books. She also took courses in art history and archeology.
Between 1984 and 1987 Vekerdy was manager of a historical book, archival and museum collection in Sopron, Hungary, and then, in 1987 she returned to her University to be a research associate and lecturer at the Department of Historical Linguistics. There she taught codicology and managed a publication project for a critical edition of sixteenth-century Hungarian manuscripts. Also, she taught English to professionals at the Department of Foreign Trade, and cataloged rare books for the Library of the Budapest Historical Museum.
In 1990 immigrated to the U. S. In 1991 she became Rare Book Cataloger at Washington University School of Medicine Library in St. Louis and received an academic appointment as Associate Librarian in 1992.
Vekerdy resumed research on sixteenth-century manuscripts with the aid of an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for work at the Vatican Film Library at Saint Louis University in 1993, and later conducted research and published on Paracelsus (1493-1541) and on sixteenth and seventeenth century philosophy of science.
Between 1995 and 2005 she undertook doctoral studies at Saint Louis University. She was in charge of the rare book collections in the School of Medicine Library at Washington University from 1992-2008 and taught history of medicine for medical students.
Since 2008 Vekerdy has been Head of Special Collections at the Smithsonian Libraries. She oversees the operations of eight rare book collections and the publication process of major library publications, gives tours, lectures, and presentations, mentors research fellows and interns, participates in exhibitions, and enjoys the day to day interaction with historical materials in The Dibner Library of History of Science and Technology. Her research interest and publications are in the history of medicine as well as in rare book studies, and often about the overlay of these two fields.