No. 54: Introduction to Descriptive Bibliography
7 - 11 August 1995
Bibliographical Counsellor at Large
Superintendent of the Museum
Hand-Press Printer in Residence
Introduction to the physical examination and description of books and other printed materials, especially (but not exclusively) of the period 1550-1875. The course is designed both for those with little or no prior exposure to this subject and for those with some general knowledge of the field who wish to be presented with a systematic discussion of the elements of physical description (format, collation, signings, pagination, paper, type, illustrations and other inserts, binding, circumstances of publication, &c.). A major part of the course will consist of small, closely-supervised laboratory sessions in which students will gain practice in determining format and collation.
1. How useful were the pre-course readings? How successful was the advance use of the videotape, The Anatomy of a Book, as a teaching tool?
1: (a) Essential. (b) The videotape was an excellent teaching tool, but the information was basic enough that it gave no hint of the degree of detail lying in wait for us. 2: Very useful, both readings and videotape, and especially the sheets to fold. 3: a) videotape -- extraordinarily helpful. b) recommend that Gaskell be read before Bowers! Otherwise, an excellent set of readings. 4: Saw the film after the readings; therefore it served as a summary. As warned, I could not have survived without the readings; even though Bowers did not begin to make sense until the guide (lab instructor) took us through by the hand. 5: Very useful and not that difficult to get through ILL. Video also helped, particularly as I could watch it several times. 6: Extremely useful and necessary to successful completion of the course. The videotape made clearer in its visual format what the print format describes. 7: Pre-course reading was great! 8: Very useful. Anatomy of a Book was very helpful, especially on 12mos. 9: The videotape was fine. I should have read Bowers more carefully, and I wish I had known of Gaskell. 10: I've grown up with books, but even though I work at a library, most of my previous learning was by osmosis. The readings gave me a chance to put system and theory into my thoughts. The video is excellent as a learning tool. Viewers might be encouraged to read it as a detective would read clues. It is crucial to know exactly how the sheets are folded. Did I see correctly that the half title of Bibliographice is Bibliographices? 11: The video was excellent. It would be good to have the follow-up video on collation. Although Bowers is as interesting as Deuteronomy on first reading, the pre-course list adequately advised alternatives for us beginners. Gaskell is not bad. 12: The reading was most essential and helpful, as was the videotape. 13: The readings and the video were critical to taking this course. I have to believe those who didn't read and view did notreceive as much from the course as those who did. 14: Very useful. Very successful. 15: The pre-course readings were absolutely necessary for this course. 16: The pre-course readings were very helpful. I think anyone who had not read Bowers (Chapter 5 at least) was at an extreme disadvantage. I advise the advance reading list to say even more explicitly (bold letters, perhaps?) that members of the course are expected to be familiar with Chapter 5 of Bowers and that the lecture will NOT go through Bowers blow by blow. 17: Tape was good. I think it was a bit much to think that because we had read Bowers, we would thoroughly understand him. In fact, Bowers makes little sense until you start to use him -- and sometimes not then, either. ARGH! 18: Good reading, but tough and very intimidating for a class of people who know nothing. Suggestion: tell students to read Belanger and the 15-page section in Gaskell before tackling Bowers and add a note re: Bowers's notes -- ie, must we wade through all that small print? 21: Pre-course readings, especially TB's chapter from Book Collecting and Carter, were informative. Bowers went in and out until I actually did some formulas. 22: I think you ought to tell students to study certain sections in Bowers very carefully before arriving. I read and reread Gaskell and Bowers and in homework we carefully followed Bowers. I'd seen the videotape, but it was useful to see again. 23: (I got the list on time, but not the video.) It seemed like a lot of reading at the time, and some of it was pretty heavy. However, it was good preparation for the course. Thanks for showing the video on Monday. It reinforced the reading and illustrated some things that were hard to picture just from the readings. 24: How about recommending that people read the first section of Gaskell on book production during the hand press period (less than 200 pages -- it only took me 2 1/2 hours to read it, and there are diagrams, photos, &c., to LOOK AT) and THEN tackle Chapters 5 and 7 of Bowers, since he assumes that you know everything that Gaskell discusses. I think reading Bowers cold is really difficult. VIDEOTAPE IS FABULOUS and a good teaching tool; also liked the sheets, workbook, and exercises provided. 25: The selection of pre-course readings was appropriate, though the accompanying instructions are patronizing. Mind you, I don't think one can read straight through Carter twice. The video was surprisingly useful, and a model for this sort of instructional device. 26: The pre-course readings were very useful, as was the videotape. 27: While I was able to borrow Anatomy of a Book, I did not feel comfortable folding the sheets since it was a library copy. 28: The pre-course readings were both informative and essential advance preparation for the course content. The videotape and accompanying sheets were a worthwhile introductory experience. The transcript seemed less immediately valuable, though I expect to use it later in preparing my own presentations. 29: The pre-course materials were very helpful, but a bit challenging. There were sleepless nights wondering about this new language, ``descriptive bibliography.'' I settled down and decided just to learn what I could in a one-week period, and everything fell into place -- I learned what I could. 30: The pre-course readings were quite useful. The videotape was very useful.
2. Was the intellectual level of the course content appropriate?
1: Yes, of course, it was excellent -- although the entire last day could have been used more effectively (except for the Museum). The final day's lectures were a waste of 20% of the course time. 2: I think so -- except for this last day (Friday). After several heavy-duty days with lots to learn, absorb, do -- suddenly this afternoon screeched to an intellectual halt. I'm sure the information TB presented today (on different societies, &c.) could be presented in a more condensed form, leaving time for more bibliographical concerns. 3: Yes. 4: I realize this is an overview -- tip of the iceberg, as it were -- and the work has just begun. In terms of hours labored, it felt like being back in grad school. 5: Yes, challenging. 6: Appropriate and challenging! Thought provoking. 7: Yes. 8: Generally. 9: Yes. 10: Quite, to understate matters tremendously. I would like to have it yet a tad more rigorous in the completeness of collation and the analysis of imposition schemes. 11: Yes. 12: I think that the lectures could have been a bit meatier -- more relevant to the following homework and labs. Even though I read the books, I believe lectures could have sharpened and filtered the material. 13-15: Yes. 16: Yes. There was so much to learnthat an expert in a particular field would have so many other things to learn. (There was always something worth doing, watching, &c.). 17: Generally speaking, yes. 18: Very good; however, the pedagogy of the lecture could use re-examining. Lectures tended to become rambling and overly anecdotal (a good story is nice, but the pre-production of videotapes?). A little more teaching about how to perform DesBib would help, not 1.5 hour doses, but some more, please. 19-21: Yes. 22: Yes -- explanations were given when needed. All instructors seem to have come from an English literature background. I work with German, French, and Italian books and sometimes missed hearing about the history of printing outside of England. 23-24: Yes. 25: Once I actually got here, I was pleased. 26-27: Yes. 28: Yes. The advance readings contributed to the success of the course by proving a common introductory level of understanding, eliminating the need for remedial work. 29: Good. Honest. Direct and workable. 30: Yes.
3. How effectively were the various parts of this course organized and co-ordinated?
1: Very well. The course is a wonder of good teaching. For me, the best part of the experience was the intensity with which many of us put in long hours in the homework lab, and the resulting camaraderie. We did miss some Museum time (and some meal times and relaxed evenings), but that was our problem. 2: Quite well. You might alter the syllabus to reflect the content of the lectures. Organization re: the room hours was a problem early in the week. Very frustrating. 3: Ran like a well-oiled machine -- clearly thought out by the instructors/organizers. 4: If the machinery creaked behind the curtain, I was unaware from this side of any problems. 5: At first, lectures did not seem directly related to homework or labs, but all background information started to sink in after the first two-three days. 6: This course was well organized and systematic in its approach to teaching DesBib. An excellently structured approach to both theory and practice. 7: Good! 8: Overall logistics were amazingly well done. 9: I would have liked some lecture time spent on the description of bindings. 10: For my purposes, just perfectly. 11: Good. 12: Apart from my response to no. 2, above, I believe the homework and labs were very well coordinated. 13: I have never seen such a highly organized team as the one displayed here these past five days. 14: Very well organized and coordinated. 15: I wish the afternoon lectures had reinforced the lab work instead of concentrating only on the history of the book. 16: For the most part, it all worked like clockwork. The students are at the mercy of the other members of the cohort. And it is the members of the cohort (and the lab instructor) who really set the tone and personalize the course. The cohort group can make or break the lab portion of the course. 17: Very effectively. 18: Coordination was superb -- the most amazing part. 19: I thought this course was wonderfully well arranged and organized -- a most impressive display of planning and execution -- as is all of RBS, but particularly DesBib. 20: Very well organized. 21: I would have preferred more discussion of format, collation, and signing in class. 22: The different activities fit together well. There was so much to absorb, but all our lectures and homework tasks complemented each other. 23: Very well organized, especially for such a large group of students. 24: Very well. 25: You guys could run productions at the Metropolitan Opera. 26: The course was very well organized and coordinated. I was impressed with how smoothly everything went. 27: Lecture time could have been shorter to allow more time for the hands-on experience. 28: The organization and sequence of lecture, homework, lab, and Museum were highly effective. This is the most successful educational experience I have ever had. 29: Excellent. I did feel more time was needed to finish the homework sessions. However, when it was explained we did not have to complete everything set before us, it became more realistic. 30: Very effectively.
4. To what extent did the Museum (and the Museum's reference library and 3-D Carter) contribute to the success of the course?
1: The Museum was a rare treat. 2: To a great extent. It's really important to be able actually to see books and related artifacts. That's a big reason why I came, and why I'd recommend RBS toanyone else. The Julier collection, in particular, I found immensely useful. 3: Highly contributory; frustrated that there was not enough time to handle everything -- but I'd rather leave wanting than bored. The physical space was terrific -- what will you do next year? 4: Museum: I have always wanted to go behind the scenes at the Cooper-Hewitt. This is the closest thing to realizing this wish. Museum's reference library: Regret not spending enough time with this collection, because I was busy with the Museum's artifacts. 3-D Carter: Managed to work through it -- but alas not the Julier cloth bindings. A wonderful tactile approach! *** Self-paced, self-directed, hands-on, all the current educational learning styles were addressed. 5: Very useful if you had time to look at them and could focus yourself to be systematic in connecting the wealth of resources available with specific books you were describing. 6: Made real by its physical presence what print can not. 7: Museum contributed to all courses, with great success. 8: A very important component. 9: A great contribution, but the overall layout should have been explained during the first morning. The examples were wonderful. 10: This is a tremendous resource. There is only the limitation of time and energy that prevents the student (at least me) from utilizing it fully. 11: Other than the immortal words of our Benevolent Despot, the 3-D Carter is the best part of the course, for long-term retention of information. Seeing is believing. 12: The Museum of objects and reference books was like Aladdin's cave of treasures -- I wish I had an additional week to study the various materials. I particularly like the comments on the exhibits. 13: Critical -- it's a cliché, but there's no substitute for the original. 14: I very much appreciated seeing all of the exhibits in the Museum and appreciated all the work that was put into constantly changing and improving them. They helped me to learn a great deal and to understand better aspects of Bowers. 15: The Museum was interesting and helpful in providing clear definitions of assorted book paraphernalia, &c. 16: Excellent. Wonderful. Museum was such a wonderful complement to the course. Please encourage Museum: I noticed a lot of folks skipped or worked on homework. 17: One of the best features of the course. Where else can one actually see many of these items with such ease? 18: Outstanding! I only wish I had had more time to look at it. Suggestion: make available (sell?) a collection of the printed captions for each table -- many include great references and definitions and would be great to have as a reference tool. 19: The course would have contained many mysteries without the Museum, and I don't like mysteries. We could have done research to satisfy our curiosity, but the Museum provided us with answers ready to hand. It was most appreciated. 20: The Museum is amazing and highly necessary for such a course. 21: Much -- very interesting. The 3-D Carter was good. 22: GREAT! WONDERFUL! My absolutely favorite part of the course. The collection is amazing and we actually got to touch things, use tools, leaf through books. Now I'd like to stay another week to read and look at more things. 23: Very interesting exhibits that went beyond what we covered in class. There was a lot to see, but we could explore it at our own pace. 24: I was able to enjoy most of the Museum, but did not get a chance to examine the 3-D Carter section. For some of us middle-aged persons, coming back to work in the evening was NOT possible -- I am NOT a night owl, and was quite exhausted by 5 (or 6 or 7) pm. However, I think there is almost enough scheduled time to see it during the day, which is good, because it is an indispensable element of the course. 25: I ran into time constraints, especially with regard to the latter, but the Museums were excellent. I am, however, slow to understand most descriptions of book craft (bindings, &c.), so I ran out of time here, too. 26: I thought the Museum was wonderful. It was great to see so many examples of things that previously I had only read about. 27: Very interesting, but hard to see all of it in the time scheduled. 28: The Museum provides a unique and uniquely valuable opportunity to handle and understand the objects. There is no other program in the country that offers such rich resources for study of the history of the book. Fabulous collections. Where else can one see such variety, so systematically presented and thoroughly explained? 29: They were right on the money. 30: Very significantly.
5. How could the Museums have been improved?
1: Perhaps a few general labels making the various areas clear? Bindings, &c., &c.? The printer inresidence is an excellent idea. He is also very knowledgeable! Have him do an evening lecture. 2: There were sometimes items missing or out of order; a lot of the Paper displays showed up a day later than they were scheduled. But given the number of things involved, a great job overall. 3: More handouts/copies of captions to take home. 4: Felt like the set was struck prematurely -- would have liked another day. The Kid in the candy store analogy applies -- just too much of a good thing. 5: Fasten the Museum descriptions in the general vicinity of the books or objects. If an order (of difficulty, for example) is intended, make that clear. 7: Better light -- watermarks. 9: Number the tables having a common subject in the order they should be followed. 10: It might be useful to give people copies of the explanatory texts in advance (possibly before the course) so they can pre-plan their sequence and emphasis, and as an aide-mé-moire for going on to further readings. 11: Expand the hours available for viewing. 12: More objects? 13: They can't be. 14: It would be nice to think one could purchase in the Notions Shop a compilation of all the descriptive sheets that were used in Museum. 15: Perhaps an instructor could have given a tour at least once. 16: People need to be quieter because there's quite a bit of reading. The first Museum felt a little scrambled because it was the first time we weren't told explicitly what to do (but I think that's OK). 17: Make it clearer on the first day that students should concentrate on a specific part of the Museum each day. Several of us, myself included, did the whole Museum the first time through because we thought we were supposed to. 18: Let students know which part is coming/going and in what order. I missed a couple tables. 19: The only improvement would be the addition of even more stuff -- but the underlying concept is perfect. (By the way, students in other courses were quite envious of us DesBibbers with our Museums, because we could touch stuff.) 20: The only way it could be improved would be to have the entire Museum up, all the time -- the impossible dream, of course, in terms of space. 21: I felt more compelled to collate, and didn't spend as much time in the Museum. I think the history of the book and printing should be separate -- we can digest only so much. 22: Some general warnings and/or information about the fragility of parts of the collection before we went forth would be useful. (Keep people from being scolded later.) I was surprised to see such valuable items as the Trost-Böchel sheets sitting out with no one appearing to watch out for them. That was, of course, great, but it made me a little nervous. 24: Would it be possible to make copies of some of the sheets accompanying various items available to students? I particularly liked the exhibits on binding (with some beautiful diagrams illustrating sewing techniques) and the Julier binding specimen set. 25: There must be a way to make the clock slower. Also, a little something we could tear up and not feel guilty, might be nice. 26: I would have liked to have even more time in the Museum. 27: Better labelling -- notes on tables indicating what part of the Museum they pertained to? 28: Kudos to the staff members who organized the Museums. A take home packet containing copies of all the printed descriptions that accompany the exhibits would be valuable. I was unable to find a few of the c19 binding examples referred to in the Julier guide. 29: I wouldn't change it! 30: By increased attendance of an expert in the particular subject of the display so that he/she could be consulted while we examined the objects. Often the faculty member who was present was not really knowledgeable about the specifics of the display and would refer the questioner to an absent faculty member specialist.
6. How successful were your format-and-collation labs? How effective was your lab instructor in conveying the material to be covered? How could the labs have been improved?
1: They were great. They really depend, of course, on how much time one has put into the work. A fifth day of equal intensity would have been fine -- or some reinforcement of the earlier work? Some space in that day's Museum to test one's new skills? It's all like learning a language in a week and it doesn't make sense to give up the opportunity for reinforcement on the fifth day. 2: Lab was great -- keeping the groups small is really helpful. PB was a non-threatening and thorough instructor. Lab and Museum were the best parts. Well, some lectures were, too. Lots of things were good. 3: Very successful -- it felt good that we corrected some of the instructor's [PB's] collations! To improve: allow more talk among members in cohorts before meeting with the lab instructor; maybe more examples done by the instructor, too, to get us going. 4: Rehire DG! His tact and sympathy were matched by his depth of knowledge. He made the sessions enjoyable and treated our questions seriously. 5: Excellent, having a small number of students with an instructor. We NEVER got through all the books, perhaps because we were all beginners. 6: Extremely successful and a very friendly, open, and patient instructor [DG]; pivotal to the course. My lab instructor was extremely knowledgeable and demonstrated his expertise in bibliographical methods and analysis -- and of the impact of technology on the field. 7: More books (early) to collate. Handouts with the right collation. 8: Very successful. A threatened or actual pre-course quiz on Bowers would be a good way to sort people into conscientious and less than conscientious pre-readers. Some class time was wasted on remediation. Maybe track cohorts on the basis of the Bowers quiz. 9: For me, highly informative. DG was great (and I was mind-boggled by his [Hinman] collator which he took us to see). 10: They were most successful. I received very clear indications where my collation efforts needed improvement, what my mistakes were. Discussions with the instructor [DJ] were very illuminating, also discussion with my co-cohorts. As I said, these exercises can never be too systematic or rigorous. 11: Our instructor [DJ] was excellent, prepared, and equipped to explain the nuances of the exceptions. Future students need to know that unless they are experienced at DesBib, they must spend enough time in order to maximize fully the value of the lab time with the instructor. 12: Generally, very successful, but sometimes we ran out of time. 13: Don't change a thing in this regard. 14: Very successful, very effective; cannot imagine improvement. Fewer than three per group would actually be too small! 15: The labs were successful and effective. DJ was very helpful. 16: The labs were good -- the three to one ratio is excellent. The lab instructor [RN] was excellent (the phrase ``patience of Job'' comes to mind). I think a lot of people didn't understand (for a day or two) that format and collation would be covered in lab and not in lecture (as it should be). 17: I was very pleased with the lab. The instructor [RN] was willing to deal with any question, and his responses were always clear and instructive. He seemed to care very much that the student ``got it.'' 18: Very good; although our instructor [RN] often disagreed with the answers furnished him -- those should be ironed out earlier. A more thorough treatment of fewer books might improve the sessions. They often seemed rushed. 19: Our lab instructor [RN] was wonderful. I found the format/collation labs fascinating and challenging, although to me there is something NeverNeverlandish about format and collation. 20: The labs were excellent. RN is a patient and knowledgeable instructor. 21: I learned everything -- OK, a lot, not everything: DesBib is a learn-by-doing experience -- from RN. He is an excellent instructor and offered interesting insights as a practicing descriptive bibliographer. 22: HR was knowledgeable, patient, and friendly. Since there was always more in the assignments than one person could complete, it might be better to explain the rules/strategies of the labs before we start (ie, don't work together, be quiet). Also, each cohort could make sure the group members managed to work on all books, not overlapping in their work. 23: I think my group was pleased with what we learned from the labs. Our instructor [HR] was very helpful. Sometimes we couldn't get through all the examples in the time allotted (both homework and lab sessions). 24: The books were well chosen and lots of interesting questions arose, which were well handled by our lab instructor [HR]. However, there were too MANY of them, particularly when we got to the lab requiring format and collation and pagination. Perhaps people could be given four books MAX and optional items. (See no. 9, below.) 25: The abundance of c19 material created delays, since we had to have read the last chapters of Bowers (and most of Gaskell) to work through them without undue delay. (This was fun, though.) The lab instructor [HR] was congenial and clear, but maybe not quite confident enough. 26: The labs were extremely useful and a good way to go through the homework. HR was very good at explaining the material and when he didn't know something, was willing to ask someone else. The only problem we had was too little time to go through the homework. 27: When problems were discovered, there often was not time to discuss them in depth. 28: Very successful. KT was clear and concise in her explanations. She provided historical context and details of design/production/practice relating to the book as a physical object. She took a personal interest in our success as students, spent extra time to answer questions, and wouldresearch after hours, if necessary, to find what we wanted to know. The only way to improve the labs would be to make them longer; and no one could survive, unless the course becomes two weeks long. 29: Very informative. KT was first rate. She demonstrated patience at its highest form. There was good interaction with the group, and it worked just fine. 30: Very successful.
7. To what degree did the actual course content correspond to its RBS brochure description and Expanded Course Description, as well as to your own expectations?
1: It corresponded -- I just wasn't equally prepared or experienced in all areas. 2: Course content was pretty much what I expected. 3: Expectations were exceeded -- the Museums put it over the top, with hands-on experience. 4: Clearly this one-week session cannot duplicate a semester or year-long course. But in my heart of hearts (because I need it) I had hoped it would. Any disappointments are a result of my own unrealistic expectations. 5: It was as difficult as I thought it would be, but took more time than ever I feared. You really needed to begin at 8am and work until 9 or 10pm on the homework. 6: The course went far beyond my expectations in its synthesis of theory and practice. 7: Collation was expected. History of the book: paper, type, print, &c., was not expected, but was refreshing and instructive. 8: Pretty much what I expected. 9: Fine, but, again, I would have liked some descriptions of the bindings and apparatus. 10: I would have expected, indeed, more on the remaining segments of bibliographic description -- ie, a transfer of the vocabulary (a passive learning process) to the lab exercises. I realize this would require a few more days of course work (knowing full well it really takes almost a lifetime to penetrate the subject matter). 11: Expectations were fulfilled. 12: Very close. 13: No surprises. 14: Corresponded well with RBS brochure description. I expected more discussion about the day-to-day use of bibliographical description as regards DCRB and electronic cataloging, patron use of records, library use of records, emphasis upon clues to an incomplete book. 15: It corresponded fairly well with the RBS brochure; I thought there would be more lecturing on collation, &c. 16: I thought the course corresponded with the description. 17: Pretty close -- I should say that in addition to the brochure, I had talked with someone who had taken the course. 18: I expected lectures to be more how-to and less History of the Book -- isn't that a separate course? Team teaching, labs, &c., should be specified. If you tell me what I'm getting, my ``expectations'' are usually improved. 19: It was better than I'd expected. I didn't understand the Museum concept from the course description; I grasped it only once I arrived. 20: Course content and description matched. 21: TB is very funny/droll. I did not expect as much paper/typography/binding information. 22: I had heard on the grapevine about how varied the course was, ie, touching and feeling all the book items, but the course description makes the course sound more like a class dealing only with the formal aspects of DesBib. (I wanted and enjoyed the diversity of activities.) 23: I was pleased with the general nature of the course -- sort of an introduction to a lot of areas in the field. Being new to rare books, I was worried that I would be at a disadvantage. 24: Quite well -- I liked the hands-on element very much. 25: I expected, somehow, to spend all my time collating and I'm extremely happy we did some other things. 26: It was better than my expectations. 27: I expected more direction on how-to. 28: The course is accurately described in the literature. Content exceeded my high expectations. A wonderful course. 29: Course content was even more than I had bargained for. All of it was so related and essential. I at least have a handle on Desbib. The big picture is viewed more clearly. 30: The course lived up to my expectation of it.
8. What did you like best about the course?
1: Hands-on work of every kind. 2: Hands-on experience, small labs. 3: The sense of overall accomplishment when I reflected on Farren's lecture vs what I learned in the course and am now able to do. Also, the Museums and exercises -- the amazing wealth of donated and purchased material we could use. 4: Access to faculty -- one on one approach. 5: Intensity ofactivity. 6: The labs and homework clarified and reinforced bibliographical theory read in Bowers and Gaskell. 7: Labs. 8: Labs/homework on collation. 9: The hands-on aspect. 10: The hands-on approach, the rigorous organization, the human interaction. 11: The Museum; also meeting of kindred spirits in other students. 12: The labs. 13: One lab instructor for three of us working with real books. 14: Museum. 15: The homework and lab sessions. 16: The multi-faceted aspect of the course. There's nothing like being overwhelmed to make one feel alive! 17: Museum. Labs. 18: Labs and hands-on experience. 19: I liked it all: lectures, lab, homework period, Museum. Nothing disappointed. No low spots: no dreaded period -- rather, I looked forward to each segment each time. 20: If I have to choose one thing, I'd say the labs were my favorite -- but the Museums and lectures were also terrific. 21: Lab -- munchies -- Lawn. 22: MUSEUM!! Actually doing some DesBib with a diverse group of books -- hearing what other cohort members did in their homework and getting help from HR. Experiencing TB's lectures, getting his perspective on the rare book world. 23: I liked how the course touched on so many aspects of rare books. The course structure was very good -- some lecture, some lab (hands-on). 24: The fact that it was run as a workshop. 25: Museums and labs (homework), in a tie. 26: The Museum, the labs, and the lectures. The homework was incredibly useful and the books well chosen. 27: Scheduled homework time (except too short!). 28: The instructors, the Museums, the lab books, and the opportunity to handle and discuss so many objects connected to the production and history of the book. 29: The lectures. They encompassed the book world in such a general way and took the mystique away from the all so intellectual attitude that books must be classics to collect, to be worthy, &c. 30: The exposure to so many aspects of the book and the infectious enthusiasm of both faculty and students.
9. How could the course as a whole have been improved?
1: See no. 6, above. 2: PACING. The pace was totally insane for the first three-four days -- it was nice on Wednesday when TB acknowledged this in lecture (that there's not enough time to go to lecture, eat dinner, and do homework, &c.) -- but that didn't fix the structural problem. People are exhausted, frazzled -- and that seems unnecessary. 3: See no. 1, above. 4: At times it felt like a three ring circus (lecture, lab, Museum), but by week's end it was experienced more like a Venn diagram. 5: Long term -- could you separate it into two sections which could be taken separately? One would be the history vocabulary lectures and Museums and the second a full-time description course. 6: Few books in lab so each person can individually work through his/her items and all can be discussed in class. Xeroxes or masters to the answers of the homework assignment. 7: It is excellent as it is. Maybe shorter lunch breaks, &c. 8: a) More technical, less anecdotal lecturing (not a widely shared preference). b) More interesting arcana on early presses, practices, &c. 9: See no. 7, above. 10: Some exercises might be devised that can be done before one arrives (possibly transcription?). Certainly more dry runs by facsimile before the course would be helpful. 11: Two weeks rather than one. 12: See no. 2, above. 13: I honestly believe it would be crazy to change anything. 14: Don't know. 15: By condensing the periods and by reinforcing the lab work during lectures. 16: Although probably logistically impossible, if the cohorts could be composed of people of similar background and skill. 17: When the Museums were set up -- ie, discussed in lecture before we saw them, the exhibits were much more meaningful. This kind of introduction should be given daily in the lecture. 18: Stick to DesBib. It's an intensive week no matter how you slice it, so why not make it intense DesBib? I feel fully prepared to do part of full-dress description. It's like trying to read knowing all the nouns, but no verbs (well, maybe not that bad). 19: I can't imagine it being any better. 21: Perhaps less homework (or fewer volumes) and more discussion of the homework attempted/completed. 22: More clarity in the course description (see earlier comments) and preliminary reading list. Some explicit advice on RBS culture -- ie, don't share your homework, be quiet in the area right behind the lecture room because sound carries. All small points, though -- the class experience was wonderful and I've learned so much and have many ideas to bring back to work. 24: Fit the course into the 8:30-5 time frame better -- give fewer books for everyone to collate, &c., so thehomework can be done IN CLASS, and provide OPTIONAL material for people to work on in the evening and discuss with the lab assistants then. 25: Lectures seemed (somewhat) more tangential than absolutely necessary, not that I'm sure just plodding through material is a good alternative. If some way could be worked out for students to present to a group, that's always nice -- but may not be possible here. 26: My only suggestion is that you consider assigning one or two fewer books for Thursday's homework lab. 27: Some lecture time spent covering what to do in the homework assignments (sometimes easier to comprehend things that way rather than just reading). 28: How do you improve an excellent course? More of it: a two-week seminar would allow time for more collation experience and deeper study of each topic. I felt as though I was being served appetizer-size portions of exquisite food and found myself craving entrées of each treat. 30: Leave it alone. It's good.
10. Any final thoughts?
1: Could you make even more clear the fact that Bowers, &c., must be absorbed before one comes? (``We will not cover this material in class. You will have to use the information in Bowers from Day 1,'' for example.) 2: Forget about the ``schedule'' of an RBS day in the promotional materials -- DesBib day is more like 8:30am-10pm. 3: 1. I knew something had happened when I went across the hall for lunch and thought I was entering Pavilion c1. 2) During TB's lecture I fantasized I won the California lottery and could now become more than a Friend, more than a Best Friend -- I could become a BAP Lover! 4: Don't bring your spouse because he/she will have to be neglected. Have him/her join you after the course. 5: Come prepared to do your first homework assignment (format and collation) on your own -- no instruction. In other words, really do the reading and really practice before you get here to get the most out of the experience. Having an individual interview opportunity is a great idea and should be continued if possible. Because the requests for the interviews have to be filled out very soon after the course begins and half the group must meet on Monday, it would be good if the interview ``feature'' were advertised ahead so thought could be given to questions, &c. It might be worth sending the interview form out with the preliminary material to those accepted or passing them out at the opening reception. Finally, it would be helpful if the instructor with whom you are speaking saw your form ahead of time, if only to save time giving them a general idea of the interviewee's interests. Thanks again for a great and very satisfying week. 6: Take it -- it's wonderful. It's the cornerstone for rare book endeavors -- and the systematic and thorough approach to the learning of bibliographical methods and the makeup of the book as an object could not have been presented better. 8: If you're going to do this, be prepared to work very hard for several days. It's more boot camp than vacation. 9: Bring your own tea bag in the afternoon! 10: Get through all the reading. Make yourself a systematic digest of Bowers. The excellent preparation of the course by the staff and the ideal setting makes this not just unforgettable, it comes close to my ideal of what an educational experience should be. Many colleges could learn a lot from the way RBS is being conducted. My compliments and my thanks again for this opportunity!! 11: I recommend and would like to take a course oriented to the health sciences. Also, please have Paul Needham return for an incunable course. I would also find helpful a specialized course in c16 books. 12: I would definitely recommend this course to others similarly interested, with the advice to do the advance reading very carefully -- no spoon feeding here! 13: I just want to say that DJ was an excellent lab instructor and thank you all. I learned a great deal. 14: Wish I could take each and every one, and will try to take at least one more. 15: Overall, the course provides an excellent basis for understanding descriptive bibliography. 16: Although it was stated in the course description, many students seemed surprised that they had to work and that information would not be spoon-fed to them. Continue to emphasize this. 18: I have made mostly critical comments here because I think criticism brings more positive change than lofty praise. But I want to praise RBS, and loftily. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to attend. It's been a great, long, wonderful week. 19: Since DesBib was my first taste of RBS, I was thinking of DesBib's four ring circus, moveable feast qualities as beingsymptomatic of RBS courses as a whole. Talking with other students in other courses, however, has made me realize that for them, RBS meant -- not the always new, ever-changing daily schedule of DesBib -- sitting in one room and listening to one voice from 8:30-5 for all five days. DesBib is a difficult, challenging course -- but there isn't a boring, clock watching minute in the whole week. 21: The Lawn is not as formidable as you suggested in the brochure. 22: Bring a big eraser! Assume you'll need at least two hours a day to work on homework outside the homework period. (I needed more time to think things through in peace and quiet -- the room did get too loud.) TB's comment was on target: there is more to see and do than is humanly possible, so you need to be selective and lighten up. 23: I certainly hope I can come back! 24: I would highly recommend it to anyone dealing with rare books, especially to people who THINK they might like to become bibliographers. (This course convinced me that I should NOT attempt such a thing!) 25: I haven't time to get this down right, but do we need to encourage people to be more perfect and publish less? This field, like paleography, seems to be full of people who are withholding useful information lest it prove imperfect. And they always die first. 26: Time well spent. 28: Thank you for offering this course. I would advise future students to get some rest before attending, do the readings in advance, and ask lots of questions of the various staff instructors in order to gain the advantage of their expertise. 29: No. Just keep doing what you all do so well -- teach, guide, and entertain. 30: I enjoyed the course immensely despite the very minor criticisms I have made above.
Number of respondents: 30
|Institution gave me leave||Institution paid tuition||Institution paid housing||Institution paid travel|
|I took vacation time||I paid tuition myself||I paid for my own housing||I paid my own travel|
|N/A: Self-employed, retired, &c.||N/A: Self-employed or retired||N/A: Stayed with friends or at home||N/A: Lived nearby|