Timothy J. Johnson, he/him/his Curator of Special Collections & Rare Books / Curator of the Sherlock Holmes Collections

Portrait of Timothy J. Johnson
Full position title(s)
Curator of Special Collections & Rare Books / E. W. McDiarmid Curator of the Sherlock Holmes Collections
Libraries department
Special Collections and Rare Books


Tim is one of the curators in the Archives and Special Collections Department and responsible for the University Libraries' main rare book collection and dozens of special collections. Half of his time is spent as curator of the Sherlock Holmes Collections, the largest gathering of such material in the world. Tim began his career as an instructional services librarian and has also served as a library director, director of archives, medical librarian, assistant and associate professor. In addition to his curatorial responsibilities, he served for ten years as an adjunct faculty member in the MLIS program at St. Catherine University, where he taught a graduate level course in preservation management. Tim is happy to answer questions and help out with matters related to "old books" or any other question people might have about special collections or rare materials. He also writes a blog that often highlights new acquisitions or other matters related to special and rare items--"Special & Rare On A Stick." You can also follow Tim on Twitter. His "handle" is @UMNBookworm.


B.A. (History), North Park University, Chicago

M.A. (Library Science), University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

M.A.T.S. (Church History), North Park Theological Seminary, Chicago

Selected publications and presentations

"He Made a Journey Abroad" and "On the Road with Sherlock Holmes," in The Best of Friends: a selection of essays and articles from the Friends of the Sherlock Holmes Collections Newsletter, edited by Ray Riethmeier, Julie McKuras, Richard Sveum, Phillip Bergem (Minneapolis: The Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota, 2019), 83-88, 154-158.

Unanswered Questions? Reflections of an Historical Sort on Library School Closures. Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays, University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing, 2018. Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy

Christopher Cardozo, Timothy J. Johnson, Peter Bernardy, Darren Terpstra. Such a Big Dream: Edward S. Curtis at 150--Exhibit Checklist (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Libraries, 2018). Available on the UMN Digital Conservancy

“Theofanis G. Stavrou: Bookman,” in Thresholds into the Orthodox Commonwealth: Essays in Honor of Theofanis G. Stavrou (Bloomington: Slavica Publishers/Indiana University, 2017).

“The Adventure of the Greater Light,” book chapter/essay in About Being a Sherlockian. (Cabin John, MD: Wildside Press, 2017).

Julie McKuras, Timothy Johnson, Ray Riethmeier, Phillip Bergem, editors. The Missing Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes (Minneapolis: Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota, 2016).

The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes: An Exhibition of Items from the Sherlock Holmes Collections (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Libraries, 2016).

Timothy J. Johnson, Philip S. Hench, Julie McKuras, Sherlock Holmes Through Time and Place: Essays on a Time and Place (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Libraries, 2013). Available on the UMN Digital Conservancy.

“Swedish Americans,” in The Ethnic Handbook: A Guide to the Cultures and Traditions of Chicago’s Diverse Population (Chicago: Illinois Ethnic Coalition, 1996), 193-198. Also edited and updated in new revised edition (Chicago: Illinois Ethnic Coalition, 2012).

“More Than a ‘Washed-up Has-Been’: Textual Aspects of the Holmes Icon.” Paper presented at "Re-Examining Arthur Conan Doyle: An International Symposium," Humanities Research Institute, University of Regina, November 2008. Paper available on the U of M Digital Conservancy.

"Department of Special Collections and Rare Books,” essay in Cabinet of Curiosities: Mark Dion and the University as Installation (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), 91.

“The Adventure of the Unopened Box: Building the Sherlock Holmes Collections at the University of Minnesota Libraries,” in Managing the Mystery Collection: From Creation to Consumption (Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Information Press, 2006), 121-141.

A River Runs By It: Holmes and Doyle in Minnesota -- An Exhibit from the Sherlock Holmes Collections (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Libraries, 2004).

“Making It to the Major Leagues: Career Movement Between Library and Archival Professions and from Small College to Large University Libraries,” Library Trends, 50 (4) Spring 2002: 614-630.

“The Sherlock Holmes Collections,” Libraries & Culture, 36 (2) Spring 2001: 367-371.

“The Independent Order of Svithiod: A Swedish-American Lodge,” in Swedish American Life in Chicago: Cultural and Urban Aspects of an Immigrant People (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 343-363.

“Bibliography: The Published and Unpublished Writings of Karl A. Olsson,” in Amicus Dei: Essays on Faith and Friendship, edited by Philip J. Anderson (Chicago: Covenant Publications, 1992), 215-293.

"Rocked and Rolled: Lessons From Closing the U of M Library School." Presentation at the Minnesota Library Association Annual Conference, October 2013.

“Lessons on Advocacy: The Closing of the University of Minnesota Library School as Case Study.” Presentation for Minnesota Library Association/Academic and Research Libraries Division, ARLD Day, April 26, 2013.