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Museum job puts director in touch with great people
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Photo: Gary Krambeck/gkrambeck@qconline.com
Karpeles Manuscript Library Director John Snow.
John Snow studied computer information systems and then managed the Bettendorf Holiday Inn for eight years before becoming director of the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Rock Island.

"I had nothing to do with museums or manuscripts or libraries at all, and so I just kind of fell into this job," he said. "I had some experience with management, and that's kind of the direction they were looking for."

In 2011, Mr. Snow responded to an ad seeking an office worker at the new Karpeles Museum at 700 22nd St., Rock Island.

The museum is in the 100-year-old former Christian Science Church, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was vacant for several years before it was bought and renovated by Karpeles, a national chain of 12 museums in 10 states founded in 1983.

The museums boast the world's largest collection of original manuscripts and documents, amassed over 40 years by museum founders Dr. David and Marsha Karpeles.

The first exhibition at the Rock Island museum was a collection of manuscripts related to author Mark Twain.

An exhibition of manuscripts related to the beginning of the Civil War is currently on display, and, later this year, there will be an exhibition of historic items related to professional baseball that will correspond with the Hometown Heroes exhibit at the Rock Island Public Library.

"I like the ability to see a lot of these older documents, things that a lot of other people probably wouldn't ever get a chance to see," Mr. Snow said. "I appreciate the fact that Dr. Karpeles has made them available to us."

Mr. Snow still is overseeing renovations at the museum, with work on the 700-seat auditorium on the second floor almost complete.

"Pretty much everything is complete up there minus some cleanup," said Mr. Snow, who lives in Rock Island. "Hopefully, it will be used as a meeting space, recital hall, for events and possibly even weddings."

Mr. Snow said Dr. Karpeles, who lives in California and recently celebrated his 78th birthday, compiles the exhibits himself even though he has not visited the Rock Island museum.

"I really don't do much with the manuscripts themselves, other than set up the exhibits," Mr. Snow said. "Dr. Karpeles is the person who compiles the exhibits, puts it all together and sends it to us, so I just make sure it's all set up the way he would like it."

In addition to his duties at the museum, where he supervises three employees, Mr. Snow also works as a supervisor at UPS Freight in Rock Island.

He grew up in the Quad-Cities, attended East Moline Christian School and then studied computer information systems at Maranatha Baptist Bible College.

Mr. Snow said the best thing about his role at the museum is the people the job has allowed him to meet.

He praised members of the Broadway Historic District, with whom he has worked closely, and city staff, and he predicts the museum will have a bright future in Rock Island.










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  Today is Tuesday, Sept. 16, the 259th day of 2014. There are 106 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: A fine lumber mill is on the course of erection at Andalusia. A flouring mill at that location is doing a fine business.
1889 — 125 years ago: J.B. Lidders, past captain of Beardsley Camp, Sons of Veterans, returned from Paterson, N.Y., where he attended the National Sons of Veterans encampments.
1914 — 100 years ago: President Wilson announced that he had received from the imperial chancellor of Germany a noncommittal reply to his inquiry into a report that the emperor was willing to discuss terms of peace.
1939 — 75 years ago: Delegates at the Illinois Conference of the Methodist Church in Springfield voted to raise the minimum pay of ministers so that every pastor would get at least $1,000 annually.
1964 — 50 years ago: An audience of more than 2,600 persons jammed into the Davenport RKO Orpheum theater with a shoe horn feasted on a Miller-Diller evening that was a killer night. Phyllis Diller sent the audience with her offbeat humor. And send them she did! It was Miss Diller's third appearance in the Quad-Cities area.
1989 — 25 years ago: A few years ago, a vacant lot on 7th Avenue and 14th Street in Rock Island was a community nuisance. Weeds grew as high 18 inches. Today, the lot has a new face, thanks to Michael and Sheila Rind and other neighbors who helped them turn it into a park three weeks ago.





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