The 46th RBMS Preconference will be held June 21-24, 2005, in St Louis, Mo. "Bridging The Gap: Education and Special Collections" will explore a crucially important issue in our profession: the rift between the growing variety of educational roles played by special collections librarians — as teachers, advocates, interpreters, impresarios — and the shrinking opportunities for formal training and continuing education available to prepare special collections librarians for these roles.

A full Program of events is now available. Leading by example, the preconference will offer all-day Workshops as continuing education opportunities for participants. The roster of Plenary Speakers includes voices from the United States and abroad, scholars and library professionals, teachers and students. Illustrating the major themes of the preconference, the Seminars will cover such topics as "Preservation Education for Special Collections Librarians," "Current Trends in Fellowships," and "Redefining Rare, or, What's So Special About That Collection." And a group of Short Paper Sessions will present thought-pieces and case-studies on exhibitions, the use of primary source materials in a classroom setting, and library outreach initiatives. St. Louis has never before hosted an RBMS preconference, and local institutions are eager to share their treasures with participants. Information about Tours is now available.

The conference will be based at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis, in the former St. Louis Union Station. This beautifully-restored National Landmark is convenient to the Gateway Arch and Laclede's Landing, and overlooks the historic 1874 Eads Bridge, the first bridge to span the Mississippi at St. Louis, and a symbol of this year's preconference. Inexpensive dormitory housing will also be available.

Our list of Sponsors includes Washington University, which will host events on Wednesday; the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, which contributed to the costs of the opening reception on Tuesday evening; and the St. Louis Mercantile Library, sponsor of a reception on Wednesday evening.

St. Louis, Missouri — a diverse and culturally rich river city, a gateway not only from the East to the West, but from the North to the South — offers a rich array of attractions for visitors. It is also a major hub for rail, bus and airline service, with many Travel Options to and from the city.

Photo credit: A History of the St. Louis Bridge, by C.M. Woodward (St. Louis: Jones & Co., 1881) from the Collections of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri- St. Louis.

A note about the bridge: The Eads Bridge opened July 4, 1874, to great fanfare. It was the world's first cast steel bridge and St. Louis's first bridge across the Mississippi River. The piers supporting the bridge were sunk down to bedrock, as much as 100 feet below the river bed, through the use of airtight underwater caissons, a new and dangerous process. With three graceful 500-foot steel arches, four massive limestone piers, and two decks — the upper for horse- drawn vehicles and the lower for trains — the bridge was beautiful as well as innovative and functional. Today, after extensive renovation, the top deck is used by vehicles and pedestrians and the bottom deck by the area's mass transit trains.

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