March 2013 Archives

The Happiness of Simple Things

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Life is best when simple things bring us pleasure. And last week I had a wonderful day, topped off by my getting a new cart.

There were a number of things I failed to anticipate when I started working at the archives. I had not been aware of how many boxes we have to move. Or of how heavy they would be. For example, next week I am getting a shipment of newspapers from California - 350 pounds worth. They will be mine to unpack, process and shelve. I had not connected "Assistant Librarian" with "weight lifter." Now I know.

mass of carts web.jpgI also had not imagined the fixation I would develop with carts. The ones at Andersen Library may have one, two or three shelves. They come in a rainbow of colors - red, black, grey or tan. The worst are the tall skinny blue ones that carry only three boxes and tend to tip over crossing the threshold of the elevator. For serious jobs, we even have yellow plywood carts that hold 12 boxes at a time. The newest ones are some combination of orange and salmon which, sadly, is just as ugly as it sounds. I have become quite the student of carts. I confess I have gone so far as to ogle the carts of my colleagues in the elevator.

The one constant is that there are never enough carts. You often need one for each researcher and others for projects underway. I would like a dozen carts, but for now I have access to: 2 blue carts; 2 grey cars; and one deluxe three shelf red cart. The red one is new to me and my prize possession. All four wheels spin. It is well balanced, low to the ground, stable and holds 9 boxes. I thought I was in love with it. Until last week.

Dietrick.jpgThe University of Minnesota Libraries has hired archivist Katherine Dietrick to oversee the Nathan and Theresa Berman Upper Midwest Jewish Archives (UMJA). Dietrick most recently was an assistant archivist at the Whitney Museum of American Art and an archivist at the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in New York City.

"I am thrilled to join the team at the Andersen Library, especially at such an exciting time for the UMJA. " said Ms. Dietrick. "Now that the remaining portions of the collection have been transferred, reuniting all of the materials in one place, the strength of the collection is even more evident. I look forward to promoting the collection, both within the University and to the community at large, shining a light on the dynamic materials."

The Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest completed the transfer of all of its historical documents to the University of Minnesota Libraries in 2012, creating a major research collection on Jewish history, communities, religion, and culture in the Upper Midwest.

Archives Make The Centerfold!

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The University Libraries are featured in the winter edition of Legacy magazine. Legacy is published four times a year by the University of Minnesota Foundation to give Presidents Club members and other donors and friends an update on how private giving fuels discovery at the University.

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Focusing on the University Libraries Archives and Special Collections, the centerfold photo highlights some of the ways supporters have added vitality to the collections with contributions of materials and financial support. The online version has interactive features and video clips with information on the Kerlan Collection, the Sherlock Holmes Collection, the Robert Bly Collection, First Fridays, digitizing the collections and more.

 

A Supreme Donation

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Justice Barry Anderson resized.jpg

 

Justice Barry Anderson of the Minnesota Supreme Court generously donated his collection of Tom Swift Jr. books to the Children's Literature Research Collections. A University of Minnesota Law School Alum, Justice Anderson stated that he couldn't think of a better place to care for his childhood passion. His collection will join the original Tom Swifts from the early 1900s in the Hess Collection.

Lisa Von Drasek, Children's Literature Research Collection

 

The Adventure of the ebay Auction

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Dear Sir,

Could you tell me if there is a Coventry Street in Minneapolis. It sounds most unlikely but I am bound to inquire as it affects an experiment in psychic Research. The name & address of Philip Jackson, architect, at that address was the reference. Probably it is an error. I could not think of anyone else to whom to apply. Pray excuse me.

Yours faithfully, A. Conan Doyle

The short letter quoted above, dated September 14, 1923, came to my attention in late February. A Sherlockian collector on the East coast--and a Friend of our Sherlock Holmes Collections--alerted us to its existence and the fact that it was being auctioned on ebay. Doyle_Mpls_env_600a.jpgA link to the item was provided by our collector-friend and so I looked at the description and images on the ebay site. Along with the letter was the original envelope, addressed to "The Chief Librarian, Public Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA." The reactions of a couple of our local Friends of the Holmes Collections were unanimous--we had to have this item for the Library. And so began "The Adventure of the ebay Auction."

My initial reaction was the same. Doyle's letter, with its local connection to Minneapolis, was too good to pass up. But I had no idea about proper library procedure in acquiring items through online auctions. I knew that we could--and do--purchase items through traditional auctions. But online auctions are slightly different animals. After conferring with colleagues in the acquisitions department it was determined that the best approach was for me to purchase the item and then seek reimbursement for my expenses.

 

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