1) How useful were the pre-course readings?
1: Not touched on, particularly, except in the most general sense. 2: Fairly useful - they were more concrete, while DT was not (he was more free-form). 3: Very helpful. 4: Gave a nice overview of what the course would cover. 5: Readings were interesting and relevant; I wish I had received the syllabus sooner. 6: Helpful. 7: Very. 8: The pre-course material was very helpful. 9: The readings were helpful in providing a background understanding of the subject. 10: Very useful - excellent. 11: I was moving and had only a community college library to work from, so I could find very few of the readings in the short time I had. 12: Very useful and a good idea.
2) Were the course syllabus and other materials distributed in class useful (or will they be so in the future, after you return home)?
1: For the most part - I would have liked to discuss some of the articles in greater depth. 2: Yes. Good references, covered the gamut. 3-4: Yes. 5: Yes, I think so. 6: Quite useful. I took notes on the syllabus and will keep it for future reference. 7: Yes they were; they probably will be. 8: The syllabus contained an excellent outline of the course along with several articles written by DT. These were very useful. 9-10: Yes. 11: Yes! 12: Yes.
3) Was the intellectual level of the course content appropriate?
1: Yes - I felt constantly challenged and stretched to think about issues that had not come to my attention before. 2: For the most part, yes, although a few more nuts-and-bolts would not be remiss. 3: Yes, for me. No, for people who already are librarians. 4-5: Yes. 6: Yes. The instructor was knowledgeable and extremely well-spoken. 7-10: Yes. 11: Yes, for me, as a neophyte. 12: Yes.
4) If your course had field trips, were they effective?
1: I very much enjoyed Special Collections and seeing all the goodies (Walt Whitman poetry, &c.). It was interesting to hear about the average day of a real-life conservator/curator. 2: Yes!! 3: Yes. 4: Great field trip to Special Collections and talk with Edward Gaynor. 5: Extremely. 6: Very well spent. I think we might have done well to go more than once. 7: Yes. 8: I enjoyed the trip to the rare books collection very much. EG showed the class several treasures from the vault and explained his day-to-day activities in the library. 9: Yes, I enjoyed visiting Special Collections. I would have enjoyed spending more time at this particular operation and others like it. 10: Yes. 11: Very well - the tour by EG rocked! I only wish I could have seen the backs of the other Leaves of Grass. 12: I really enjoyed visiting Special Collections in the Alderman Library and wish we could have seen more and spent more time there.
5) Did the actual course content correspond to its RBS brochure description and Expanded Course Description (ECD)? Did the course in general meet your expectations?
1: Yes - but make sure to mention the field trip mentioned in no.4, above, as one of the capstones. 2: Mostly. Again, I think that a little more how-to might have helped. 3-10: Yes. 11: Not exactly; there were lots more anecdotes, but I like that style. 12: Yes, but I would have wanted to handle some rare books as part of the class period.
6) What did you like best about the course?
1: The introduction to this odd little group of people who like rare books and make it their life work to take care of them and have others read them. 2: DT's stories. We discussed many issues, briefly. 3: Hearing the experiences of rare book librarians. 4: Interaction in the classroom. Group discussion/participation was encouraged. 5: 1) DT's mastery of anecdote, his humor, and his breadth/depth of knowledge. 2) The other students were all intelligent, interesting people. 6: The people (including the instructor). 7: The instructor and meeting people in this field as well as people like myself, just starting out. 8: DT's presentation style made even the dullest topics interesting. 9: DT's wit and humor. 10: The scope and depth of information. It was adequate for a five-day course. 12: No exam. Being treated like an intelligent adult. The never ending liveliness of DT.
7) How could the course have been improved?
1: More sharing from students of individual work experiences and issues around them - addressing other rare book and manuscript environments besides the university: private libraries, public museums, &c. 3: Some hands-on work to break up the lecture format. 4: A lot of the material covered I knew or was commonsense knowledge. However, I think that this was done because there were so many people in the class who had not yet entered the field. 5: Longer! A two-week session for the beginners. 6: Some variation in teaching technique. 7: More time in Special Collections and Rare Books at Alderman. 8: I can't think of any way. 9: N/A. 11: Some hands-on material - actual books. 12: A formalized list of additional books and other readings instead of the references to them here and there in the syllabus - maybe keep the text the way it is, but add this at the end.
8) Please comment on the quality/enjoyability of the various RBS activities in which you took part outside of class, eg Sunday afternoon tour, Sunday night dinner and videos, evening lectures, Bookseller Night, tour of the Alderman digital/electronic centers, printing demonstrations, &c.
1: Dinner could have used a quick general introduction - everyone just going around and saying names or something. I didn't know anyone and found it hard to talk to anyone cold. Bookseller Night was fun - van service was appreciated. I have not been bored for a moment since I arrived. 2: Bookseller Night and the lectures were good. 3: I enjoyed everything. 4: Bookseller Night was a nice night out. 5: Everything was highly enjoyable except the food at the Sunday dinner. 6: All were fine, but nothing could beat Bookseller Night. 9: Excellent ideas. 10: Very enjoyable and informative. 11: The tour was superficial and busy work. Videos and all but DT's lecture were promos for RBS, i.e., preaching to the choir. Recommending more inexpensive restaurants on the downtown mall would have helped. 12: Sunday night dinner - I would have TB speak that night about how many were here that week, the history of RBS, &c. - a kind of general assembly. I feel that there should be a question and answer period after the evening lectures.
9) Any final thoughts? Did you get your money's worth?
1: When I see how much of a labor of love this school is for many people, yes. Advice to future first time RBS course-takers: the coffee breaks are not just for refreshment. Use them to say hello to people. I wish this had been clearer to me - the fact that RBS is as much a networking event as a learning event. 2: Bravo! Worth every penny. :-) 3: Thank you. 5: Much, much more than my money's worth. Advice: buy your own coffee and bring it to the morning meeting. 6: I feel that I received a good introduction to the field. 7: I know that, as a novice in the field, I would probably gain more from this experience than I could have to offer. And this did happen. Hopefully, in the future my contributions will be more meaningful. 9: Yes - I would encourage future applicants. 10: The students taking these courses are, for the most part, professionals. It would be more productive to treat the participants with the respect their expertise and professionalism and intelligence deserve. There are a few on the RBS staff who sometimes fail to take that into consideration. We are not stupid. If we were, we would not be here. 11: Man is in love and loves what vanishes. What more is there to say? 12: The more pre-course reading you can do, the better.
Number of respondents: 12
There were twelve students: three (26%) were rare book librarians, three (26%) were full-time students, two (17%) were at RBS as book collectors, and one each (8% each) was an author/student, a general librarian with some rare book duties, a general librarian with no rare book duties, and a potential rare book librarian.