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A conference, Wolfenbüttel and the Herzog August Bibliothek

By Saturday, September 28, 2013

 Two days ago, I boarded a bus and took it two and a half hours to Wolfenbüttel to listen to and then give a 15 minute pretension. I was co-presenting, so I spoke for less than that, but I was still very nervous and anxious.

I had never even heard of Wolfenbüttel before the conference, and only a few days before we left did I look up what was there. Turns out, Wolfenbüttel is famous for two things: it is the home of Jägermeister, and the Herzog August Library, which was where we were for the day. 

I was surprised by how luxurious the library was. Strangely, the library started on the second floor (first floor for you Europeans), and went up at least another four. The library is the kind of place whose website is in German, English and Latin.
There were probably about 80 people there, which was better than the 200 I was worried about, but still  a lot for me.

The library was first built in 1572 by the duke of Brunswick-Luneburg, although the current building is from  1886. it is one of the best collections of historic manuscripts in Europe, including a copy of the Bible owner by Henry the Lion from 1170.

A house nearby is dedicated to the librarian, playwright, and philosopher Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, who everyone expected me to be impressed by, but who I had never heard of before. 

The town itself was very pretty with many timber framed houses, but we only got to walk through it on our way to lunch. There was a guided tour after the conference, but even skipping it I only got home just before 9, and I had to do a discussion panel the next day.

I survived both my talk, and the long ride back to Hamburg. Although the library and town were beautiful, I'm  not sure it was worth carting us around for five hours for about seven hours of talks and lunch. Quite a lot of people fell asleep both on the way there and back, and considering that people were coming from some vastly different time zones (for example, one speaker was from Utah) and jet lagged  already, the especially early meeting time probably didn't do much to help their energy and engagement levels.

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