Early in August my wife and I took an epic road trip from Nebraska to New York, to New Jersey, to Pennsylvania, to Missouri then back home. Along the way we met old friends, possibly got filmed as part of a reality TV show, and did a lot of quilt and book shopping.
When cruising through Pennsylvania, I wondered out loud where Shippensburg, PA was knowing full well that the university library there had copies of The Reflector in their archives containing Dean’s earliest published works. My wife looked it up and she said it was about 30 minutes away. What I thought she meant was it was 30 minutes off our route which would add an hour of travel time (plus the time spent at the university) to our trip and at this point of the trip I wasn’t looking to extend my driving that much. No, she corrected me, it’s about 30 minutes ahead of us on our current route, and just 10 miles off the highway. Well, that changed everything!
Next up was a call to a long-time acquaintance of mine, a fellow librarian on the campus. (Turns out he’d recently become the head of the library. Yes folks, personal networks come in handy.) He have us directions and made it to campus a short while later.
Our first stop was in the university archives to check out issues of The Reflector. I’ve had photocopies of Dean’s content for years, but to actually hold the issues in hand was a bit of an experience.
The next step was to verify something I’d already suspected. Dean did appear in the 1964 campus yearbook (I own a copy) but I did not know if he appeared in the ’65, ’66’ or ’67 (just for good measure) yearbooks. Those were brought out for me and I got to take a look. Theory confirmed, he’s not in there.
I was then asked if I wanted to see the Koontz items in special collections. I believe my response was literally “duh.” Turns out the library created the “Dean R. Koontz” collection a few years back containing the personal collection of OI. Richard Forsythe, Dean’s favorite English professor from his time on campus.
The library also kept material from a display put up for when Dean was back on campus years ago to give a talk. (I forgot to ask what year that was when I was there.) Here’s just one of the pieces from that display.
As if this visit hadn’t been exciting enough, I was then asked if I wanted to see the box of correspondence and other things. At this point I was pretty much babbling. Again here’s just a sample of the content of that box:
Like I said, the photos here are just a sample of what they had. I took many more, but I’m saving those for later. Needless to say, this happy accident was amazing and the staff of the library were nothing short of gracious, helpful, and understanding of my excitement especially Melanie Reed who I look forward to working with the future regarding their collection.