The meeting started at 2 p.m., but many of us were able to come to the library early for a guided tour of some of the great things the St. Louis Public Library has to offer. We were told all about the history of the original library and updated on the renovation completed on the branch just a few years ago. The docents showed us the different rooms and collections throughout the building as well as informing us about small details all throughout the building that most patrons walk by without ever noticing!
The Noble Bachelor meeting commenced with Randy Getz calling us to order with a toast to her majesty, Queen Victoria, followed by a toast to Sherlock Holmes by Michael Bragg. Randy then took a moment to remember Barry Hapner, BSI, a very early member of the Noble Bachelors who passed beyond the Reichenbach in the past year.
We were then treated to two great presentations relating to the Sherlockian Research Collection by Mary Schroeder and Bill Cochran, the two most influential people behind St. Louis's new collection. Mary told us how the collection had started and was originally housed at McKendree University's library in Lebanon, IL and how it eventually made it's way to St. Louis. Bill's speech told the story of how he was able to acquire a complete run of Baker Street Journals to be added to the collection and what an invaluable resource they would be to present and future Sherlockians.
Randy then took to the podium to present Rob Nunn with The Noble Bachelor of the Year award, and Rob was asked to speak about the upcoming Holmes in the Heartland weekend. When Rob was done, it was time for Randy's annual "Gassy-Gean" remarks, this year focusing on the importance of libraries throughout society and in the Sherlock Holmes Canon.
This year's keynote speaker was Anne Posega, the former head of Special Collections for the Washington University Library. Her speech, "The Clues Between the Covers: What You Can Deduce from Special Collections," was an intriguing and insightful talk on how library special collections are acquired, handled and used by the public.
After Ms. Posega's speech, we adjourned to the Rare Book Room, where the special collections librarians had some highlights of the Sherlockian Research Collection on display, as well as other highlights from their varied collections, such as a first printing of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, an early Audubon Society print, and a miniature book that one would have to use a magnifying glass to read.
But not only were books and materials on display in the Rare Book Room, but we noticed a few musical instruments set up. The assembled crowd was treated to a performance of Mendelssohn's "Song Without Words" by Anna Allen on violin and Gail Robins on piano. After that, Randy Getz and Tom Baynham performed a spirited rendition of "My Gallant Crew" from Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore for the audience.
The official program concluded with Chritopher Robertson reciting Vincent Starrett's 221b, and the assembled members spent time after that perusing the collection and socializing with one another. It was another successful Noble Bachelors meeting, and a pleasant Sherlockian gathering for all involved. We all walked away from the day's events satisfied and looking forward to our next Sherlockian gaterhing in St. Louis!