I had the chance to enjoy a rare behind the scenes look at the Sherlock Holmes collection at the University of Minnesota. This collection with over 600,000 pieces dedicated to the world's most notorious fictional detective turned out to be just the beginning of an awe inspiring experience...
We started the evening with a presentation that any Sherlockian would find fascinating. We learned about the life of Arthur Conan Doyle, his cult following, and how the Holmes legends and stories have appropriated into popular culture. We then we lucky enough to get a glimpse at some very rare items pulled from the collection.
What I wasn't expecting was how mammoth the archives at the University of Minnesota truly are. We got to tour the underground archives who's catalogue was so massive I felt lost in an episode of the X-Files.
The collection is 85ft underground, sits just above the Mississippi's water table, and has an elaborate climate control system. The dust we created from walking around would be filtered out through the air filtration system that night.
To my delight/horror, I found out that the books are organized by size. BY SIZE!!! Can you believe it!?!? The card catalogue is infinitely valuable in this situation!
Just outside of the climate controlled rooms were the loading docks and a buffer zone.
It looked like something out of a zombie apocalypse!
But for any true book lover this was paradise! You couldn't get anything more spectacular than this!
I invite you and Steven Tyler to 'Walk This Way' and get a glimpse of just how massive this place was!