Sharp 2020 postponed

Dear SHARPists,

Although we received an unprecedented number of abstracts for SHARP 2020
in Amsterdam, I am afraid global circumstances have made it impossible
for us to proceed with a conference in 2020. Like most academic
societies around the world, SHARP has decided to postpone this year’s
conference for at least 12 months. In light of the enthusiasm for
meeting in Amsterdam and because of all the hard work and exciting plans
of the Amsterdam conference committee, we intend to hold a SHARP annual
conference in Amsterdam as soon as global travel permits.

Given the current uncertainties for most of us about what might happen
even next week, we cannot yet provide clear plans for a possible
conference in 2021. The Executive Council is working closely with Lisa
Kuitert and the other members of the Amsterdam committee. We are also
benefiting from the discussion and experience of other societies made
available to us through our membership of ACLS (the American Council of
Learned Societies). But all of the organisations and institutions that
are contributing to our conference are in a disrupted state just now and
finalising plans may take several months.

SHARP has members in areas of the world that are being ravaged by the
spread of the coronavirus, and our thoughts are with all those who are
suffering and worrying about loved ones. We are aware that some
prospective conference delegates had already made travel plans and we
have made this decision as quickly as possible in hopes that they are
able to recover at least some of the costs incurred.

As an organization SHARP could experience financial losses in the form
of venue cancellation fees, but this is still a small sum by comparison
with other academic societies that hold their conferences at major
hotels and conference centers. We are working with the Amsterdam teams
to keep the losses low. We are also counting on you to maintain your
membership and enjoy the rich scholarship of Book History, enhanced by
the relaunch of SHARP News programmed for later this year. Anyone
having to self-isolate will be grateful for some mental floss to sustain
the spirit. Let our community be a source of solidarity during this
difficult time.

This same message will be sent out via ConfTools to all those who
submitted abstracts for the conference. I apologise for any
duplication, but we want to ensure everyone is informed of this decision
as soon as possible. I would also ask that you please refrain from
contacting the conference organisers until the Executive Council posts
further details of plans. Like all of us, they are facing their own
personal challenges in adjusting to our new world, but on top of that,
they are busy figuring out how best to mount a future conference. I
promise that we will update everyone as soon as we have reached any
decisions. We appreciate your patience, and please understand if we are
unable to respond to individual queries until we have resolved these
larger matters.

On behalf of the Executive Council and the Amsterdam Conference
Committee,

Shef Rogers
President