Friday, May 7, 2010

Catching Up: Holmes Conference

I guess its fair to say that I've been preoccupied with a few other things since my last post. I really don't know where the time has gone, but I think its probably a sign that I've been busy and having fun (and you can do both at the same time). So while there's a lot that's happened, I won't go over all the old ground, but I want to bring you up to date on a few things. I'll probably stretch these out over a number of posts, but I'll warn you right now that there's going to be a long post put up next Monday. It's the text of a talk I'm giving on Tuesday. But more on that later.

At the moment I'm listening to Jim Lehrer (from a YouTube posting) and something he said in terms of advice to aspiring writers caught my ear: "keep bottom on chair." My bottom hasn't been on the chair for some time and its time to put it firmly in place and get back to writing. (More on Jim Lehrer later as well).

For quite some time now I've been part of a group planning our next Sherlock Holmes conference here at the University. Since 1995 (or 1998, depending on how you want to count) we've been hosting a conference every three years on a theme related to Holmes, Doyle, and/or the Victorian era. This year's conference is being built around the theme "The Spirits of Sherlock Holmes." It will be held here at Andersen Library on August 6-8. A brochure on our web site will give you more information about the conference. If you're interested, I hope you'll register and join us in August.

There will be two exhibits mounted in conjunction with the conference. The first, in Wilson Library, will focus on Allen Mackler and his collection; Allen represented a number of aspects of "the spirits" of Sherlock Holmes. Allen was a long-time member of the Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota and a major supporter of the Holmes Collections. The exhibit will feature items from his collection as well as provide an opportunity for visitors to see Allen's reproduction of the 221B Baker Street sitting room that is on permanent exhibit. The second exhibit will open in mid July in Andersen Library and weave various elements from the theme of the conference into the various displays. There will be items from the Collections representing "spirit" in its alcoholic and dining guise; "spirit" in its enthusiasm of the collector; "spirit" represented through films and illustration; and "spirit" in its religious dimensions. Other "spirits" may be found there as well. Watch for more information and postings after the exhibits open.

At the conference itself I'll be concentrating on the "collaborative spirit" between libraries and collections. I'm very pleased that representatives from collections in Toronto, London, and Portsmouth will be present. I'm hoping to have representatives from Harvard and the Newberry Library as well. Together, we'll meet before the conference and having a working session over breakfast. Then, during the conference, we'll have a panel discussion. I'm hoping that both of these opportunities will prove fruitful and that stronger relationships will develop between the various collections and their staffs.

In my next posts I'll talk about Jim Lehrer and my talk next Tuesday. But the very next post will continue with Holmes and a talk I had on the radio with author David Grann and host Kerri Miller at Minnesota Public Radio.

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