Knut Dorn Retirement Honors in New Orleans
Revision as of 20:00, 2 March 2012 by Andersongb
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A toast for Dr. Knut Dorn on behalf of WESS proposed by Gordon Anderson at the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans on Friday, June 24, 2011:
“One of the strongest recurring themes in our ovations this evening is Friendship. Knut has been not just a business associate or partner, but a real friend to us all.
“In this regard I speak as a relative youngster: my friendship with Knut dates from the mid 1980s. In 1987, as the bibliographer for Slavic (and soon also for German) studies at the University of Kansas Libraries, I ventured forth to the Frankfurt Book Fair – alone – to learn more about the German and European book trade. The Central and Eastern European book markets were just starting to open up, and Frankfurt was the goal.
“I strongly advise librarian colleagues not to visit the Fair unaccompanied! In the midst of this gigantic enterprise, my head spun with the immensity of it all, and my gut sank with the feeling of being utterly alone in this mega-crowd. But I had one contact – Knut Dorn at the Harrassowitz booth, whom I visited as soon as I could after getting my bearings. Knut was probably the most sought-after person at the Fair, but upon seeing me he gave that familiar warm hello and welcome and, ignoring the many other customers' vying for his attention, sat me down and bade me welcome (in those days there was no public seating at the Fair). Knut asked how was my trip, how were things going, what did I think of the Fair, and how good it was that I had come all this way to this important event. He told me a little about the Firm and its re-founding in Wiesbaden in 1947. In short, Knut made me feel personally welcome in this place that would swallow the entire ALA exhibits area in an instant. Knut gave me a few precious moments of peace before I ventured out into the crowds again.
“Harrassowitz exhibit booth at the Warsaw, Prague, and Leipzig Book Fairs. (PICTURE?)
"in 2000, with the second official ACRL/WESS presence at the fair, many of us WESSies and other librarian colleagues got introduced to Knut's gracious hospitality at the Restaurant Göllner in Wiesbaden. By the time of the final (2006) ACRL/WESS exhibit at the Fair, we were seasoned promoters of American libraries, and already on that Tuesday afternoon we had our booth up and running – except for the supplies from ACRL in Chicago. The box with the ACRL banner, ALA & ACRL publications, section newsletters, and assorted takeaways still had not arrived at the Harrassowitz offices in Wiesbaden. After a phone call to ACRL and a few to Harrassowitz's staff, the box was finally located – held up in customs at the Frankfurt airport on a technicality. I steeled myself to set out via public transport and somehow retrieve that package. Knut pondered my plan for a few minutes and said, "No, I'll drive you there."
“The Airport freight-yards personnel put Knut's unflappable good humor and spirits to the extreme test. We went to shipping office after shipping office, each time Knut announcing, "Tja! Knut Dorn von der Firma Harrassowitz! Wir wollen ein PÄCK-chen abholen!" After about a dozen such visits to various shipping buildings, we finally landed at the Fed-Ex warehouse. At last, Päckchen in hand, we returned to the Fair Grounds via another way – an Autobahn Umweg über Wiesbaden – to avoid the traffic jams into Frankfurt.
“That weekend Knut invited us all to the inaugural Harrassowitz open house at their new offices on Kreuzberger Ring, with a tour and catered dinner. Similar to our celebration tonight, many of us were inspired to toast Knut and Harrassowitz for their hospitality and to give them all our best wishes for their new home and future prosperity. I rose to tell the Päckchen saga, trying to repeat Knut's inimitable voice and charm, as a way of expressing all our gratitude, because our WESS/ACRL exhibit would not have happened had not Knut helped me get that box. And so it is this evening that I want to tell Knut that I have found yet another Päckchen – a genuine Deutsche Post Pack-Set, addressed to Knut from WESS. This is a token of our thanks to Knut for our wonderful journey together to this place. We also want to thank Renate for sharing Knut with us, and to you both and to Harrassowitz we extend our heartfelt best wishes for this next phase of life – definitely not Ruhestand! We will remember you always with love and affection.
“…Oh, yes, I absolutely did enjoy the seamless high-speed ride in Knut's Mercedes!”
- Gordon B. Anderson
- University of Minnesota
- ganderso @ umn.edu