C-85 Law Books: History & Connoisseurship
1. How useful were the pre-course readings? (Leave blank if you applied and were accepted late for the course, and thus did not get the list in time.)
1: Very useful. A nice mix of shorter works and longer studies. Some were hard to find, however (such as older sources and talks on lectures). 2: Very useful. Stein book was excellent, but it would have been nice to have a shorter reading selection of that or less of other articles. 3: For myself, I am not completely familiar with rare books, so while we didn’t specifically address the readings in class, it was a nice background and useful bibliography to go back and reread. 4: I thought the pre-course reading provided a solid background for our discussions. 5: For me they were very useful. I would have found the course very different without them. 6: Very useful and relevant. Some materials were not of interest to me as a collector but were very relevant for my librarian classmates. Likewise, there were materials especially relevant to me as a collector. Reading them in advance truly enhanced the classroom experience. 7: Generally good. Articles by Lucia Diamond and Terry Belanger (PH) stood out as excellent. Simpson’s article on the decline of the legal treatise was slightly disappointing by stopping just as his analysis began to get interesting. 8: Extremely—they facilitated course discussion and also have helped me in my own library work 9: Excellent and well-chosen. Could have included readings on international law. 10: Very useful, but slightly too many were given for a course that only lasts one week. 11: Very useful. 12: Useful, but maybe not essential. They’re great reference sources.
2. Were the course syllabus and other materials distributed in class appropriate and useful (or will they be so in the future, after you return home)?
1: Yes. The workbook was extremely useful in class and will be useful later as a reference source. The only complaint I have is that the pages were not numbered in a straightforward way, but by sections (e.g., 3.1), and the photocopied pages of articles and other sources were not numbered at all, so it was sometimes hard to follow along. 2: Yes, but a table of contents with page numbers would have been helpful. 3: Absolutely. I will keep my course packet and read all the extra articles MW included, plus refer to the excellent bibliographies and other resource lists. 4: Yes, I plan to shelve the class materials in my office and consult them frequently. 5: Yes, course syllabus was very well done and will remain a resource for me. 6: Yes and yes. I plan to read them all. 7: Syllabus served as a good rudder during the class. The workbook will be useful afterward. 8: Yes—we always knew what to expect and we stayed on schedule. 9: Yes. 10: Yes, very much so. 11: The course book for this class was great. Very informative and very helpful. I will keep re-reading it and using it. 12: Yes.
3. What aspects of the course content were of the greatest interest or relevance for your purposes? Was the intellectual level of the course appropriate?
1: The overview of the history of legal literature; the discussions that arose among the instructor and members of the class. 2: European, canon and Roman law; discussion of various types of legal literature was very important. 3: I enjoyed doing practical exercises, which helped to solidify the concepts discussed. I’m a newcomer in this field, so for me all information was useful, and much of it I did not already know. 4: The wealth of reference materials and dealer contacts will be quite useful. 5: I think I became so much more fluid in handling and speaking about rare books. Terminology, history. 6: The only parts not necessarily relevant to me were some of the more arcane librarian materials. But even these were interesting. 7: Discussion on ethics 8: MW’s vast experience in rare law books was of great interest. Seeing how he responded to situations and learning his opinion was very helpful. 9: Intellectual level was appropriate. Content was well-balanced and of equal interest. The mix of students was diverse and contributed to the strength of the course. 10: Discussing the history of legal printing. I would have liked more emphasis on that (specifically printers and places of publication) and slightly less on collection development. 11: More the content discussions, less the preservation aspect. 12: The Anglo-American stuff was the best—the intellectual pitch was perfect.
4. What did you like best about the course?
1: The instructor. The slide shows, the field trip to UVA Law Library, the interview with Lin and Tucker Respess. 2: Enjoyed discussion of various dealer catalogs and how to read them. 3: The casual conversational style made the class interesting and I think more relevant to the students with more experience. For myself, I didn’t have a lot to add, so additional lecture would have been fine, but more discussion kept the pace lively. 4: The legal bent. I appreciate the fact that RBS has a course specifically geared toward legal materials. 5: The class discussion was very informative and lively. Some excellent field trips. 6: The professor who was able to convey enormous substance and enthusiasm for legal history, book history, book arts and collections. He shared from his wide experience and made the materials come alive. Never a dull moment! 7: My classmates—instructor included. 8: Learning the major works and resources in the field and getting a handle on the discipline. 9: That it was given at long last. The content exceeded expectations in every respect. The addition of European and canon law was desirable and enhanced the course. The field trip to the Law Library was instructive. 10: Doing the exercises and handling actually relevant books. 11: The discussions with the other participants and especially MW’s insights. He is great. 12: The content was interesting, as was the mix of students.
5. Did the instructor(s) successfully help you to acquire the information and skills that the course was intended to convey?
1: Yes. 2: Yes. 3: Indeed. The course was about building collections, and I have a much better sense of the landscape of this area of librarianship. 4: Yes. 5: Wow—huge leaps forward for me in terms of a rare book acquisitions—catalogs, sources, pricing. 6: Yes! See above. 7: Yes—particularly his examples of top quality rare book acquisition and management. 8: Yes—the course covered all the areas promised and was extremely informative. 9: Yes. 10: Yes, very much so. MW was enthusiastic and very knowledgeable. 11: Yes. I wish we had spent less time the last day talking about preservation because to do so we had to skip a section on techniques for research which I would have found much more interesting. 12: Yes.
6. Did you learn what the course description/advertisements indicated you would learn?
7. Did you learn what you wanted to learn in the course?
1: Yes. 2: Yes. But I want to learn more!! 3: Yes. Again, I knew little, so all information was welcome. 4: Yes. I thought we might spend a little more time on the physical description of books, but there really wouldn’t have been adequate time. 7: Yes. Hard to learn all you wish in one course. 8: Yes. I believe the course is extremely valuable for institutions and collectors. 10: Yes. I would like more emphasis on using legal history materials, specifically European and Roman. 11-12: Yes.
8. How do you intend to use or apply the knowledge or skills learned in this course?
2: It will be very helpful for my job cataloging rare law books—I have a better understanding of how works relate to each other and relative importance. 3: I can’t use it in my current institution, but I have been considering pursuing new avenues and wanted to bring up my skills and familiarity with rare books going forward. 4: I intend to use the knowledge I gained to be a better administrator of my collection and to be a wiser purchaser of rare books. 5: Work more with rare book materials at my institution. 6: To focus and deepen my own collecting interests 7: Background knowledge for my teaching and research. 8: In building and maintaining my institution’s rare book collection. 9: I shall integrate library holdings of relevant books into my own seminars to a greater extent and have the books actually brought in to the room. 10: In my research and day-to-day job. 11: I can’t even begin to say. I have learned so much that I can apply to any job. It is very exciting. 12: Yes; very much.
9. How could the course have been improved? If you have a suggestion for a new course (and—equally important—a person who could teach it), please contact the RBS Program Director.
1: Maybe devote more time to a demonstration of various online legal databases prior to Exercise I. 2: Instead of collection development exercise, which felt a little like library school, do an exercise with dealer’s catalogs and ask people to pick out what they would buy with $5,000 and why. 3: Hard to say, seeing as how I’m new to RBS and rare books in general. 4: My only suggestion is that the field trip might feature fewer titles and more discussion or physical handling of the books by the students (although I would understand if the law library opposed the latter idea).
6: Discussed in class—MW
has more suggestions than I do, but we are starting from a very high floor. MW was extremely well prepared. 7: Consider capping the courses at 10. 12
is not a bad number in a single class but the higher number had an impact on
group events—breakfasts, breaks, &c. 8: I was satisfied. 9: There is
room for a course that would cover other jurisdictions more extensively: Asia,
Middle East, Latin America, Central and
10. If your course left its classroom to visit Special Collections (SC) or to make other field trips away from your classroom, was the time devoted to this purpose well spent?
1: Definitely. 2: Trip to UVA Law Library was good but hard for me to stand up that long; maybe shorter or have seated presentation. 3: It was well spent. I enjoy seeing another law library’s special collections. 4: Yes. It was a nice change of pace to visit the law library’s collection and actually see some of the works discussed in class sessions. 5: Very useful as visuals always help. Also, broke up a solid block of classroom time. 6: Yes—and a very good idea to do this! 7: Yes. 8: Yes—viewing the rare books at the law library was extremely interesting. 9: Yes. 10: It was well spent but MW chose too many books for the time allowed. We should have been allowed to handle the materials ourselves. 11: Yes, the trip to the law library was interesting, but a lot of books and not too much time for discussion. But that was fine. I enjoyed it. 12: Yes. This trip was great.
11. We are always concerned about the physical well-being both of the RBS teaching collections and of materials owned by UVa’s Special Collections. If relevant, what suggestions do you have for the improved classroom handling of such materials used in your course this week?
6: None. 7: No special suggestion. 9: None. 10: Proper cradles (not those cheap foam things) and snakes at every place setting. Pencils available in the class. 11: None.
12. If you attended the optional evening events (e.g., RBS Lecture, Video Night, RBS Forum, Booksellers’ Night) were they worth attending?
1: I could not attend
the evening events because of fatigue. 2: I did not attend movie night, because I thought movie choice was lame. RBS Forum speaker’s talk was good, but
not starting on time meant he ended late so that affected discussion aspect. 3: I went to the lecture, Forum, and Booksellers’
Night. It might be interesting if Booksellers’
Night were in some way more specific to RBS, like having a special program in
conjunction with it instead of just setting us loose. 4: I thoroughly enjoyed Booksellers’ Night and made a few valuable
contacts. 5: Yes, helped contribute
to camaraderie of the entire program. I
liked having events to attend. 6: RBS
lecture, Forum, Booksellers’ Night good. No need for movies: we get those at home. 7: Yes—lecture and Forum were excellent. The nightly bookshop
crawl was good. 8: The video night
could have been better. I enjoyed
13. Did you get your (or your institutions) money’s worth? Any final or summary thoughts, or advice for other persons considering taking this course in a future year?
1: Yes. 2: Yes very much so. Very important for future students to do reading to be prepared for class lectures. 3: I understand why it costs what it does, but I don’t think I’ll be able to justify paying it again. This year I was unaware of RBS until the spring at which time it was too late to apply for a scholarship, but I was afraid the class wouldn’t be taught again, so I went for it. I will try to apply for the scholarship next time, but I know it’s usually given to first timers. So I’m glad I came, it was a super opportunity, but I have doubts about being able to return. 4: Yes. I have a better understanding on my own rare book collection and the resources available to me to manage and expand it. Equally importantly, I made valuable contacts with the other members of my class which should serve me well in the future. 5: Totally. Without a doubt, the best professional development course I have ever attended. Great instructor, RBS staff, dynamic classmates. 6: Yes. This was a superb course: materials, professor, classmate diversity, and RBS logistics. 7: Yes. 8: Yes. Good instruction and network building. 9: Yes. 10: Yes, certainly. 11: Yes. Take it—it’s great. 12: It was good—exactly what I expected. MW is a good professor who really knows his stuff.
Number of respondents: 12
Institution gave me leave
N/A: self-employed, retired or had the summers off
Institution paid tuition
I paid tuition myself
N/A: Self-employed, retired or scholarship
Institution paid housing
I paid for housing
Institution paid travel
I paid my own travel
(One did not respond)
There were three rare book librarians (25%), one cataloger (8%), five general librarians with some rare book duties (42%), two professors (17%), and one book collector (8%).