David Whitesell

G-10: Introduction to the Principles of Bibliographical Description

23–27 July 2012

What was the name of your Lab Instructor? 1–6: Chris Adams (CA). 7–12: James Ascher (JA). 13–18: Vernica Downey (VD). 19–24: David Gants (DG). 25–27: Haven Hawley (HH).

1)    How useful were the pre–course readings? How successful was the advanced use of videotape, The Anatomy of a Book: Format, as a teaching tool? Please indicate if if you applied and were accepted late for the course, and thus did not get the list or videotape in time.

1: The readings were useful for gaining familiarity, if not understanding. I did not end up using the facsimile set at all, but did appreciate the movie. While we did not end up referring to Gaskell much, I found it the most helpful prior to the course. 2: The pre-course readings and video were absolutely essential. I applied and was accepted in March, and began dipping into the reading materials immediately. 3: A basic understanding of Bowers is absolutely essential prior to taking this course. The video was the perfect way to introduce the material to a beginner. 4: The videotape was indispensable to my understanding of this material. I did apply late, but managed to get a copy from my institution, so it was not a problem to obtain. 5: The pre-course readings were certainly relevant, but I'm not sure about useful. It's hard to make much of Bowers without books in front of you. The movie was quite helpful and Gaskell was a nice introduction. 6: I was accepted late—but I was able to get the video through ILL. It provided an excellent foundation for the course. The readings were crucial in understanding the concepts. 7: The pre-course readings were essential and the video is a nice snap shot with some of the printing processes. 8: I found the pre-reading valuable and the video helped me visualize concepts I read in Bowers/Gaskell. 9: They were very useful, particularly since so much of the course follows the Bowersian orthodoxy, as documented in Principles. 10: The pre-course readings are essential. Do. The. Reading. Bowers in particular. The video is a helpful visual tool that you cannot get in the readings. It was effective in showing examples to have a start at the work. 11: The video was incredibly useful. The readings were all useful although, of course, reading Bowers is like reading NASA flight instructions. 12: I was not able to get the tape owing to schedule problems (basic insanity at work). The readings were opaque but that was to be expected. 13: For course G-10, the advanced reading is very important to do—even if you don't understand it a bit—it will become clear in a day or two. The video was helpful and my institution had a copy of it. 14: Having the reading lists available online makes it easy to know what is required and allows time to get an early head start. All of the advance reading materials are necessary for being able to jump right into the class. Bowers is a bit dense, so my first read was not helpful. But it gave me the knowledge of where I could look for answers. 15: Very useful. 16: The readings were essential. We weren't taught any of the material in Bowers, so it was essential to have read it ahead of time. 17: They were difficult to get through, but useful once I got into class. I think reading them now, they will be much more meaningful but I would have been much further behind without the readings. The video helped set the stage. 18: The pre-reading was absolutely essential, even though the Bowers was so dense. Although I had seen the video before, it was helpful to watch again. I enjoyed Gaskell for the content it developed. 19: The pre-course readings were helpful, though I must say I had a hard time really understanding Bowers until I sat down in class with the books in front of me. The video was fun! Very helpful for visualizing formats. 20: Belanger article and video: a good concise introduction. Gaskell: really helpful for greater understanding of the hand-press period. Bowers: very, very slow going! But I'm glad we read him before the class began. 21: The pre-course readings were essential; I was already familiar with Gaskell and the two videos, but I would have had a harder time if I didn't know them. 22: Extremely helpful, if dense and difficult. A bit more introductory reading could be good, though, especially for students who may not have a book history/bibliography background. The video is great. 23: Very. Thank you for assigning chapters and not all of Bowers, but I thought Chapter Two of Bowers was also worth reading. 24: The pre-course readings were very useful; I think it was a little unrealistic to expect us to read the whole Gaskell book. Some chapters from McKenow's Introduction mixed with some chapters from Gaskell might have been preferable. 25: The pre-course readings were invaluable. They provided a solid foundation from which to begin study. 26: It's so difficult to understand Bowers without practice! But I was glad to have read it anyway. Gaskell is essential for understanding the books in front of you and for preparing for the museums. I have seen "Anatomy of a Book" many, many times. Still waiting for the sequel. 27: The Gaskell is wonderful as is the Belanger article. The Bowers might have been more effective as pre-reading if we were given specific areas to focus on before we arrived at class. The chapter index would have been great for that purpose.

2)    Were the course syllabus, workbook, exit reading list, and other materials distributed in class appropriate and useful (or will they be so in the future, after you return home)?

1: All of the class material was very useful during class and I imagine will be into the future. 2: All were fabulous. I will keep the DesBib Bible handy for regular use. 3: All materials were very useful and I see myself referencing them plenty in the future. 4: Oh my gosh, yes! Looking especially forward to the syllabus. 5: Yes. Thank you. 6: Yes, I plan to refer to some of the museum session material—in particular—for exhibit and teaching ideas. 7: Yes. I will definitely save and consult these materials. 8: These materials were very useful. Like the video, the additional diagrams, examples, explanations, and especially the Bowers Chapter 5 index were helpful supplements. 9: Yes. All were quite helpful, though full page numbers throughout the workbook might be more efficient for reference. 10: Absolutely. These items are crucial to the class, including use during collating assignments. And the exit list already has been valuable. 11: All were very useful and the RIGHT vs. WRONG examples in the workbook were especially helpful. 12: Absolutely. 13: Yes. Absolutely to all the items. I really appreciate the exit list. 14: These materials are indispensible and also necessary for completing the homework and understanding Bowers. The index for Bowers was extremely helpful. 15–16: Yes. 17: It will be useful to have the reading list as a reference. 18: Very helpful! I do wish I had the index to Bowers while I was reading, as it would have helped me in advance to better familiarize myself with it so that in homework sessions I could find things faster. 19: Yes, all of the materials were very useful, and I expect I'll continue to turn to these resources for years to come. 20: The workbook was very helpful especially the notes on formulas and signing statements (and the index to Bowers). I suspect the exit list will keep me supplied with further reading for years! 21: The workbook was helpful; the exit reading is wonderful and I'm looking forward to consulting it for a long time to come. 22: Yes—along with the Tanselle syllabus, you will be set. 23: Very much so. Very detailed and well-edited selections. 24: I cannot emphasize enough the value, organization, and usefulness of the materials provided. The folder will become my primary work of reference for all sorts of things (including, e.g., Italian writing masters of the c17!) 25: The course materials are extensive and comprise, as was said, a lifetime of material to digest. 26: Yes. Especially grateful for the supplementary handout provided by David Gants (DG) and Haven Hawley (HH). 27: The course materials are excellent. The exit list is exciting and I appreciated that David Whitesell (DW) pointed out when he was choosing from works on that list.

3) To what extent did the DesBib Museums and their catalogs contribute to the success of the course? How could they have been improved?

1: I really appreciated the tactile elements of the museums, especially the first day's folding exercises. It might be interesting to incorporate multi-media stations in the future, directing students to further online resources, for example. 2: It would be impossible to present this course without the museum visits. In addition, it was very helpful to have the related structure of the visits between the lectures and homework. 3: The museums were great, especially in that it was mainly independent study and not too structured. There were some very interesting examples. 4: I felt the museum was a lively and relaxing way to follow the homework session with examples of the reading—not sure I'd have enjoyed or profited from it as much had I had to do it the other way around. 5: The museums were a helpful, hands-on part of this course. However, some were more interesting to me than others—I would appreciate the chance to leave early and return to homework on days that the material was less pertinent to my work. 6: The museums were excellent, especially to see the forme, matrix, binding examples. 7: Very helpful to see examples and have quick time for reflection on materials. 8: These helped me understand elements I was unable to (fully) grasp when examining an assembled book. The variety was particularly nice, made things more applicable to our individual institutions/unique encounters. 9: I wonder if they'd better serve as non-compulsory? There was such a range of experience with rare books in the students in our course and some aspects of the museum were too basic for some of us—though useful for others. 10: It was an interesting aspect that gave some depth to the study. I think that we should have a shorter time frame there and another half hour added to lab time. 11: I loved the museums, and the catalog entries are so well written that I know I will return to them for questions about bibliographies, catalogs, and book history in general. 12: They helped immensely, especially when our books did not contain certain elements (for homework). 13: Very important and I can't wait for the opportunity to re-read and absorb the catalogs—as it is too much to do in the allotted time. 14: Having the hands-on exposure through the museums and demonstrations cleared up questions formed during book examinations and labs. They were well put together. 15: They were excellent. 17: I really learned a lot by being able to touch the materials and see what we were discussing. 18: The museums were outstanding, and I appreciate how much goes into preparing them for us. The museum guide helped me map out my approach each day in order to maximize my time with these materials. 19: The museums were great for allowing you to really get an in-depth look at specific aspects of papermaking, binding, &c. I wish, though, that they were a bit more presentational. I would have enjoyed that time more if the instructor would have facilitated discussion about some of the objects on view. 20: The museums were terrific! I especially appreciated getting to handle type, paper, bindings, and so on. 21: The museums and catalogs were a highlight of the course. I did wish I'd had more time to consult the catalogs in advance so as to plan a strategy of attack. 22: The museums are invaluable. 23: I loved the museums. I could have used a better introduction to the layout of principles of the first day, but also learned from the materials approaching them haphazardly. 24: The museums were simply fantastic. I did not understand that the materials would change completely from day to day so I missed out on some very interesting things the first day. I think one RBS guest speaker lecture would be enough and instead of the second one some practical museum-related work could be more useful (and interesting!). 25: The museum experience was helpful, interesting, and added a completely necessary dimension to the course. 26: The museums were fantastic. (Thanks to Melissa Mead (MM)!) In some ways wish they happened during first or second period, when we were fresher—but this is a completely subjective quibble. 27: The material in the museums was fascinating, but the format of the museums was a bit awkward. Maybe integrated time to discuss specific objects (stations) in small groups would help improve students' takeaways.

4)    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: Chris Adams (CA) was a really fantastic lab instructor, although he probably should have pushed us to go a little faster. As it was, we did analyze some books incredibly intensely, which will certainly stick in my mind, but perhaps to the exclusion of other, non-dealt-with, examples. 2: The labs were an essential learning tool and were more fun as the week progressed. The more we knew, the more lighthearted and enjoyable the labs became. 3: The labs with CA were probably the most helpful part of the class; he helped pull it all together. Having the small groups of three per lab was perfect for individual attention. 4: Labs: absolutely dynamite! Instructor: so smart and patient and helpful. I admit I was afraid about publicly humiliating myself at times but the very small group plus the fact that others had similar backgrounds and interests made it all OK. 5: My lab was helpful. I felt like we were flailing around a bit for the first few days, but then it became clear how the different examples built upon each other. 6: I appreciated the model of simply jumping in and starting the work—working independently and then tackling individual problems—because it is true-to-life. My lab instructor was excellent; very patient and descriptive. Very clear. 7: The lab was very successful over all. My one suggestion would be some more immediate feedback and/or consultation time on the first day. I understand the pedagogy of going in the deep end—but I would have been happy to have a life guard day-of, not 24 hours later... 8: Our instructor was exceptionally energetic and approachable. JA is extremely knowledgeable and was able to make complex ideas digestible and cater to differing learning styles. I appreciated the small cohort, attention to detail, and camaraderie that formed. I would have liked to have walked though a step together before homework, say pagination, to eliminate guessing and Bowers misreading. It would have saved a lot of time/stress during homework. 9: Very, very useful! The homework on our own and the lab sessions were easily the most valuable part of the course. 10: Very successful. We had numerous rousing debates. The lab instructor was effective and colloquial. More time is necessary to get through all of the material. 11: Very successful. JA walked us through sticky points and make the decision-making process clear. He could easily have just said "because Bowers says so" but rather he explained why Bowers would lean toward a particular decision, and indicated when we might feel free to choose otherwise. 12: JA is a born teacher and explained things beautifully 13: The format of the class—trying and learning oneself prior to any lecture or instructor and then comparing formulas, was excellent—the small group (three) was perfect for working with the lab instructor and provided everyone with the opportunity for input. 14: Learning from our own mistakes was the best way to approach this course. It facilitated quick absorption of the material. Thank you for picking difficult, but not impossible, books. I learned so much faster than if I had been given many more easy books. I wish some of my labs had been a bit longer. The cleanup lab was great and allowed us to cover each of the books. 15: Labs were generally not satisfactory. Instructor VD often had difficulty being clear. 16: Very successful. I learned a lot from working through the descriptions with VD and the other students. 17: I liked being able to talk through each book as a group, but I think others had more information about other aspects than we did. 18: I liked the format very much. I learn by doing, and having to work alone to collect evidence suited me well. The labs, of course, were essential in correcting mistakes and answering my many questions. I wish I had more time—I am new to DesBib and worked too slowly. 19: The labs were the best part of the course. DW is superbly knowledgeable and very willing to take time with student questions. He helped to unpack some of the rationale behind the collation formulas and to relate aspects of the physical books to their printing history. In addition, he's a very nice guy. 20: The hands-on experience was one of the most helpful parts of the class. DW did a great job of answering our (many!) questions. One suggestion: maybe one less book on the night we tackle pagination? Many of us were running out of time. 21: The labs were necessary to understanding how to put together a description. The amount of homework was sometimes frustrating—especially as we added in pagination, I had to work faster than I liked to get everything done. 22: This was the most valuable part—DG was patient and beyond helpful (and he has a nice laugh). It speaks to his commitment to RBS that he is willing to do this for us. 23: DG was a great lab instructor, both exacting and encouraging. He allowed us to ask the questions that made the collational formulae more interesting to us and applicable to our own work, while still getting us through the principles. 24: The labs were excellent, and so was the instructor. All three members of our cohort (including myself!) were well-prepared, so we did not need to spend much time practicing the basics. Instead, we had heated debates over superscripts, square brackets, commas in collation formulas and whatnot. 25: Both the labs and the instructor were helpful and delightfully challenging. The Monday lab session would have been more helpful if we had completed a short collation as a group, because as it was it did not offer too much more than information about the coming sessions and homework expectations. 26: Very successful. HH is extremely kind, efficient, and direct. She never belabored points, but did take care to thoroughly explain them. She was particularly effective at guiding us towards the problems most relevant to our own research interests. Her expertise was invaluable! 27: My lab instructor and cohort helped me learn a lot more than I dared hope. That said, I would have liked to hear (in a formal setting) about the experiences and challenges in other groups, just so I could see how a broader range of professionals approached the work.

5)    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 elements of printing practice most closely relate to my purposes, followed by the last museum's contents of comparative bibliographies. I found the level appropriate (with the exception, perhaps, of the final combined lecture, which was over my head). 2: All, plus the didactic approach to presenting the subject of collation and the practical application of gained skill. 3: The museums and homework were most relevant, but DW's lectures were very interesting. Handling the books was essential to understanding the concepts. The intellectual level was appropriate. 4: I was urged to take this course by just about every rare book librarian I know. It seems to be a kind of "hazing ritual," so I'm here. In terms of my personal research and professional application of collation formula, I'm happy to say I can now read it. With skill. Doubt if I will ever write another! 5: This was a great chance to improve my understanding of how books were produced in the past and developed my eye for noticing signs of that process. I wish there had been more classroom time for understanding the why's of DesBib and not only the practicalities of doing it right (at least according to Fredson Bowers). 6: The rigorous methodologies—learning how to find the patterns and describe the book. Using bibliographies. Also just the basic history of the book. Yes the intellectual level was appropriate. 7: The course was challenging, but appropriate. The entirety of the experience is what is particularly useful, pulling together all these threads and seeing cloth. 8: In my studies: the relationship to book history and sociology of knowledge practices. At work: practical researcher requests and scholarly comparison. 9: Delving more deeply into bibliographic quandaries was the most interesting aspect of the course. I found that the intellectual level was appropriate in many ways, but too basic at times. 10: a) The actual collating and discussion. b) Yes. It is challenging, intense and tough. Also fun. 11: I found the discussions of paper most illuminating. The class on binding was a little rudimentary, but I have worked more with those materials than I have with different kinds of paper. 12: I think the whole course is relevant to me desire to gain better skills for rare books—my goal is to have the skills of an antiquarian book dealer. 13: How to read and construct the format and collation formulas was the most important part. The intellectual level I thought was extremely high—and very appropriate for this material. 14: I felt I was pushed to find the answers for myself and enjoyed figuring things out. I find that DesBib methodology is relevant for cataloging, archival description and for the development of good research practices that is vital for not only my job but in my role as a student. 15: Intellectual level was appropriate. 16: I mostly took the course to learn more on writing collational formulas. The material was appropriately challenging. 17: Working with the books and learning how to do the format and collation. I also found DW's talks to be very relevant. 18: I needed to have a greater understanding of what I have in my hands when doing my research, and this helped me greatly. The museums were invaluable to me as I dove deeper into book history. I found the homework fascinating as well as challenging. 19: Yes, the course is challenging, but in all the best ways. The course is immediately relevant to my dissertation and I will make use of the knowledge I gained when I return to teaching. 20: The close analysis of book structure and physical evidence; the training in how to look attentively at a book and understand how it was made. 21: Those that touched on physical bibliography were most helpful—reconstructing the processes of printing and binding. 22: The skills—the most relevant parts were learning about and practicing to identify how a book was put together. 23: Yes. I wanted the principles. But both DW and DG presented overviews of DesBib as a field that made the Bowersian style we were learning more relevant to my own work. 24: The intellectual level is impressive; the course has the right balance of theoretical and practical work—there wasn't a single aspect of this course that I did not thoroughly enjoy and yet I do not intend to spend my life producing descriptive bibliographies on cataloguing rare books. 25: The labs and museums were hands-on components necessary to my work and sufficiently stimulating. 26: It is hard to choose one aspect, as there are few wasted moments in this week. The intellectual level was high, if my current state of mental fatigue is any indication.

6) What did you like best about the course?

1: I really liked the combination of group and self-directed study. Despite the long days, my interest was always maintained. I also really liked the legion/cohort system and found my classmates to be further fonts of knowledge. 2: The interactive nature of the hands-on approach to learning and absorbing the creation of the book. 3: Our lab sessions with CA and homework. I was amazed how much time we were given to actually work with the books. 4: Labs, plus homework in the afternoon. Working independently, then collaborating, was very useful. 5: I liked having the chance to puzzle things out on my own and then confer after in a small group. 6: The lectures and working with the books. I loved lab time and my instructor. 7: Labs were most useful and enjoyable. 8: The exceptional collections and examples. 9: Puzzling through the book objects and discussing the issues and descriptive options in lab. 10: The labs. Discussing our formulas was an effective teaching tool and it made for great camaraderie. 11: Concepts that have been disparate and obscure are now cohesive and clear. I will need to practice these skills right away so that it stays that way. 12: The varied structure. 13: The fast pace, the interactive events (museum), the 'a-ha' moments that seemed to occur regularly throughout the day. DW's dry humor and nicely paced lectures. 14: Learning how to interpret the clues in the books and then figuring out exactly how to describe what I thought was happening. It was nice to have the small cohort setting with which to learn all that. 15: DW and the museums. 16:  The labs were definitely the best and most relevant aspect of the course for me. 17: The labs. 18: There were so many opportunities for hands-on examination of all aspects of book production, especially through the museums. 19: The labs provided a great forum for debating textual issues and the finer points of bibliography. I found our discussions to be very illuminating. 20: I so seldom get to pursue my book history interests in any kind of systematic way, or in anything other than isolation. The shared learning environment and the concentrated week of study were perfect. 21: The intensive focus on material aspects of how books were made. 22: The labs and museums, the interactive aspects—i.e., Q&As in lecture—and, of course, the labs. 23: How deliberately constructed, well organized, and well run it is. From the advance reading to the teaching collection to the daily schedule it was a very efficient use of just five days. 24: I liked the amount of work we were expected to do—and with so much great peer pressure there was no way to slack off! 25: The labs and homework. 26: DW's lectures, HH's discussion of c19 American printing practices, museums, general conviviality and collegiality of lab group. 27: I liked the supportive atmosphere. This is a subject which, in some ways, is best learned though mistakes and confusion and I think the instructors encouraged us to take those learning risks.

7) Did the instructor(s) successfully help you to acquire the information, knowledge and skills that the course was intended to convey?

1: Definitely! 2: Yes, very patient and helpful at illuminating passages in Bowers to find the solution to problems. 3: Yes. 4: 100%. I wish we could have talked more about DesBib in the context of literary criticism, the transmission of ideas, and geographical context and politics, though. Another course, maybe. 5: Yes, but it still felt like it was lacking some of the critical analysis about why. Bowers was a bit untouchable in a way that seemed uncritical at times. 6: Absolutely. I am very satisfied and I feel smarter! 7: Yes. 8: Yes and more. 9: I believe so. 10: JA was open and encouraging with our work. Very effective in conveying what he knew while allowing us to "get there" on our own. DW is the best to learn all aspects of bibliographic study from here. It was a privilege. 11–12: Yes. 13: Yes—absolutely—and made the experience less stressful by demonstrating how evenexperienced practitioners find the material and process challenging. 14: Yes. From the choice of books, to the small cohorts and slightly larger legions. I felt everything was designed towards the success of the class. 15: Somewhat. 16: Yes. 17: Yes, I do. I believe they did. 18: I am glad the course is called an "Introduction." I hope to have acquired introductory level skills...I am anxious to practice with books from our collection! In terms of knowledge—absolutely! My overall understanding of the history of the book has increased beyond my expectations. I found DW's lectures helped me develop a better understanding of DesBib in the overall history. 19: Absolutely. 20: Yes—there's a lot to learn, but I feel much more confident in my abilities now than I did on Tuesday! 21–23: Yes. 24: Absolutely, though you really have to combine what they are saying with what you have read in preparation for the course; that way you get much more out of it, I think. 25: The lecture, Lab, museum, homework layout was perfect for skill acquisition. Too bad everyone can't do it that way. 26: Yes! For such a large course with so many students, there is a surprising level of individual attention lavished on each student. 27: Yes.

8)    Did you learn what the course description/advertisements indicated you would learn? Y/ N
Additional comments (optional):


1: Yes. 2: Yes. And much more. 3–12: Yes. 13: Yes. I think the description was spot on. 14–17: Yes. 18: Yes—and more! I had not realized in advance how exceptional the museums would be! 19–21: Yes. 22: Yes. 23–27: Yes.

9)    Did you learn what you wanted to learn in the course? Y/N
Additional comments (optional):

1: Yes. For my purposes, an expanded treatment of publishing trends would have been useful. 2: Yes. And much more. 3: Yes. This course teaches you a whole new skillset in under a week. I would highly recommend it. 4: Yes. 5: Yes. And it's gotten me thinking about things that were not even on my radar a few weeks ago. 6–7: Yes. 8: Yes. I feel much more conversive and ready to work with researchers. 9: Yes. 10: Yes. I need to keep doing collational formulas to effectively learn this. 11–12: Yes. 13: Yes/no. I am very satisfied with the depth and breadth of material covered—I cannot wait to take additional courses in the future. 14: Yes. I can't wait to take other classes and expand my knowledge. 15–17: Yes. 18: Yes—and more. 19–24: Yes. 25: I wanted a more in-depth look at how to represent paper type and format, press figures, and catch words in the formula but there just wasn't enough time. 26: Yes. I always wish for more c19 books! 27: No. I know there isn't enough time to do full descriptions, but I would have liked to work on something beyond the collation formula.

10)  How do you intend to use or apply the knowledge or skills learned in this course?

1: I will certainly apply it to the researching and writing of my honors thesis. 2: Both reading and writing catalogue descriptions. 3: I hope to use it in a career in special collections librarianship, and in graduate research. 4: Researching pre-1800 auction catalog lot descriptions and determining early printed book sales from medieval MSS sales by being able to describe details of format. 5: By teaching and helping students see the process of printing in the artifact of the book. 6: To analyze new acquisitions, improve catalog records, and to use my knowledge of book production for undergraduate teaching. 7: It will inform my work with patrons and classes, will contribute to representation of digital books and assist in decoding collations in catalog. 8: Work primarily. See response to question number five—"At Work." 9: I hope to use this knowledge to help researchers and to teach students at least the start of bibliographical fluency. It's also helpful to parse reference works. 10: I will use it with my work with bibliographers, at time collating our collection, and perhaps my own research. 11: I will be helping the cataloging department, I will be reading dealers' catalogs more closely, and I will be showing students the basics of format and collation. 12: I will continue to practice on things in my collections and on my own. 13: By working on descriptions of materials on the collections at my institution. 14: I answered that partly in question number five but I hope to be able to get a job that would allow me to actually collate. Of course, new ideas for research projects were constantly coming to mind as I sat through lectures. 15: To improve my cataloging skills. 16: Cataloging rare books, especially writing collational formulas. 17: Some of our c18 materials are very rare and need far more description than what we have been providing in OCLC. Being able to now describe them will make them more useful to the scholarly community. 18: To help my research using rare/old materials. To help teaching students about printing history. To help others researching book history. 19: The knowledge about the physical structure of books will be useful to my dissertation. My increased ability to recognize/describe variants in texts will make my teaching more nuanced and productive. 20: I'm going to have a much better vocabulary when I pursue my future research. And if I ever wind up as a special collections librarian, I'm going to be a lot more prepared. 21: My hope is to take the detailed knowledge I've gained and to translate it into terms and exercises for undergraduates studying early book culture and bibliography. 22: In my research projects, as well as in my teaching—both in class and in class preparation, identifying books for my students to learn from. 23: To read rather than write bibliographies. To teach the history of the book. To answer reference questions. 24: I might attempt a low-scale descriptive bibliographical project of my own; for my purposes it was really crucial, however, to understand what this is about and how it may be useful in my literary scholarship/analytical bibliography/textual criticism. 25: In many ways. 26: In my dissertation research and in my teaching. 27: I may pursue work as a cataloger or rare book curator; this course provided a practical base.

11)  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: I would have liked to shift the ordering of lab, lecture, homework, and museums between legions. 2: No improvements. 3: CA gave us a really helpful review sheet at the end of the course that clarified and cemented many of the concepts. Perhaps DW could create an optional quiz or review sheet of sorts? 4: Another course on DesBib in context. "Discourses of DesBib." 5: It would be nice to have guided discussions here with the full (or half) group, where we discuss the purpose of DesBib and critically engage with the discipline. 6: I wouldn't change a thing. 7: A supervised, interactive initial lab session would improve the course, I think. 8: I would have liked some guided examples before homework practice. I felt I spent inordinate amounts of time guessing and misreading (and subsequently unlearning mistakes) Bowers. Homework of four books per night would have allowed me to participate in evening activities and not have to walk alone, across town, at 10 pm. 9: It's a well-oiled machine. Though, I think that more time in Lab (and working on the books) and making museums optional would be better. I also wonder if it wouldn't be more useful to cross-pollinate cohorts with rare book librarians and scholars, rather than segregating us. Also: encourage students to talk and share excitement more in the museums. 10: It is well designed. More lab time would be fantastic. Perhaps one or two fewer books on the last day of homework to really get through all of them. 11: I think that the last night of homework—when we had the really tricky book and pagination statement—should have included just four books instead of six. I would also appreciate more coverage of those formats that can't be described fully using Bowers—heavily illustrated volumes, Asia materials, accordion books—and suggestions of which texts are the equivalent of Bowers for those sorts of items. 13: Perhaps by a little discussion of the full bibliographic format—to create the context for the role of the formula in the larger description. 14: I enjoyed DW's lectures, I wouldn't have minded a little more interaction... 15: Improvement: students could spend more time in collaborative effort to learn from each other. 16: Probably not possible given the facilities, but it would be nice to have somewhere to stash our books—carrying around Bowers, Gaskell, and two course notebooks got quite heavy. 17: For the first assignment, take a book and have one of the instructors show the group how to do it. Many in our group really had no idea what to do (even after doing the readings) so having an example would have been helpful. 18: Perhaps a way to sift through Bowers more efficiently when doing homework—the index created for Bowers was a great help. 19: I would modify the museums a bit, but otherwise, I thought everything worked very well. DW's dry sense of humor especially helped to liven up the lectures. 21: See my answer to question number four—homework is necessary, but too much leads to rushing rather than careful study. 23: Maybe reconsider using such long books the homework night we do pagination. It takes a long time and is less important. 24: I really don't think the course needs any improvement. DW—the course director—was great, and so were the lab instructors. I wish DW had shared more of his own frustration or trouble constructing his own descriptive bibliographies; or have someone who has recently produced a major descriptive bibliography of something come and complain about the work/principles! 25: This was a wonderful course. 26: I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer this question. 27: I think my comments about covered most of my concerns. However, I would have also liked to have more theoretical discussions about the value of Bowers.

12)  We are always concerned about the physical well-being both of the RBS teaching collections and of materials owned by the 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?

2: None. 3: Maybe lab instructors could remind their students to wash their hands. 4: Seems find to me. 6: Provide slips of paper for inserting in the book as you are collating. 7: It's hard because these are the workhorses of the collection. I felt myself sometimes not handling them in the ways. Not sure how to improve... 9: I found everyone to be quite careful in their handling. 10: Everybody is well-versed in handling rare materials, it is fine. 11: I think everything was treated as carefully as possible, considering that we needed to paw through the books a number of times in order to learn the key concepts of the class. 13: It seemed fine to me. 14: You were all very specific about handling. I think that was done very well. 16: I feel like we should have a lesson on proper handling of the books, since many people haven't been taught that. 17: I don't have suggestions to offer. 20: None that I can think of offhand—frequent injunctions to wash our hands were a good idea! 23: Well, the DesBib books are going to get a bit battered—especially those that demand getting into the gutters. We had two books that needed a bit of conservation work but the rest were doing surprisingly well. 24: No suggestions—it was great. 25: Foam blocks better suited to the different books in each box. 26: The DesBib books are sad creatures, but were mostly handled with care nonetheless. HH was very good at reminding us to be gentle.

13) If you attended the optional evening events (e.g., RBS Lecture, Video Night, RBS Forum, Booksellers' Night) were they worth attending?

1: I did not attend. 2: I missed all the Lectures. The homework labs were the most important. 3: Yes. 4: I did not have time to attend. 5: Lectures are always a bit hit or miss, but I liked the lecture line-up this week. Thank you! 6: I only attended the Booksellers' Night and it was fun. 7: Didn't attend—homework! 8: N/A. Homework. 9: I attended the Malkin lecture, by Matthew Carter, which was fun. The others I didn't get to, as I was diligently doing my homework. 10: I skipped them to do homework. Yes, it is that intense at times. 11: I was busy with homework and missed all the events. Maybe next time! 12: I thought the Wednesday night lecture was interesting but irrelevant to RBS and I wished I had done homework instead. 13: I attended the two evening lectures. In these cases I did not think they were especially pertinent to my study but I understand their place in building the RBS community. 14: No time! I wanted to but homework called. I'm glad I stayed and worked on the homework. 15: Attended lecture. Definitely worth it. 16: Both lectures were excellent, the highlight of the week for me. Did not attend the other two events. 17: I only attended the first lecture so really can't comment. 18: Typefaces and industrial design—outstanding. Greenspan—he made so many assumptions along the way that I question his research methodology. 19: I enjoyed the lecture on type design—very thought-provoking and well worth the time. 20: Yes, though most of the time I didn't have time. But I very much enjoyed MC's lecture and Booksellers' Night. 21: I missed most evening events so I could do my homework! 23: I found neither of this week's lectures as good as I was expecting and hoping—but that happens with invited talks. I don't believe we had a Forum. I would have loved a map of the shops for Booksellers' Night. 24: One RBS evening lecture was dead boring; the other (on type design by a practicing designer) kind of interesting. I think one RBS lecture per week (by a practitioner) is sufficient. 25: I didn't really have time, given the homework situation. I heard they were lovely.


14)  Did you get your (or your institutions) money's worth? Would you recommend this course to others?

1: Very much so. 2: Without a doubt this is the first essential course for anyone with a serious interest in the study of rare books. 3: Yes, this course was invaluable. I will certainly recommend it to others, especially undergraduates who may need it in their research. 4: Yes! Wish I could afford more or that my institution would take it as credits! 5: Absolutely. 6: Yes, and yes. 7: Yes and with qualification. This is definitely not a class for everyone, it maybe even wasn't a class I had any business taking, but enjoyed myself and learned much anyway. Glad I did. 8: Absolutely!! Great course! I'll be back... 9: Yes. Absolutely. It's a juicy and marvelous class. 10: Absolutely! A great course! 11: Absolutely. I will certainly recommend it to others and I already have. 12: Definitely. 13: I would indeed. For the organization, the length of the activities in the day and the wealth of materials to see and handle—it was worth the cost. 14: YES! AND YES! 15: Yes, and yes. 16: Probably, though it was quite expensive! (But seeing all that goes into running an RBS course, I'm surprised it doesn't cost more). I would recommend the course. 17: Yes, and yes. 18: Yes—and more. 19: Yes, on both fronts. 20: Yes! 21: Yes. 22: YES. 23: Oh yes. 24: Absolutely! 25: Yes. 26: Yes. Yes, absolutely! 27: Yes, and yes.


15)  Any final or summary thoughts, or advice for other persons considering taking this course in a future year? (If you have further RBS praise or concerns, or if you have suggestions for a new course, please contact Amanda Nelsen [an2b@virginia.edu] or Michael Suarez [mfs@virginia.edu].)

1: Bring a larger bag for the classroom materials. 2: Be prepared to invest your time in the evening homework sessions—essential and fun. 5: Bring a sweater! The lecture room is freezing! 6: Read Chapter 2 of the Bowers—as much as you can handle. 7: Not a critical point, but the certificate says "six hours" a day, there's no recognition of how very much time is poured into this particular class! 9: Take this class! The rumors of hard work and long hours aren't untrue, but they are valuable and interesting. Also, find ways to laugh as you do. 10: Amazing faculty and course. Remember Aldus Manutius: Festina lente "make haste slowly." This is great advice for DesBib. 11: Do all the reading, of course. But don't worry if Bowers doesn't make sense. It starts to make sense once you get here. 13: Not at this time. 14: [Ed. note: arrow drawn to an2b@virginia.edu] It is a testament to the course that my first thought when seeing that was "Is that a mis-signing?" 19: Thank you for everything! 20: Take it—you'll learn tons of stuff and—I fear Bowers would add—become a better (even if somewhat more melancholy!) person. 26: Thank you, RBS staff, faculty, and lab instructors for a momentous and delightful week!
Number of respondents: 27





Institution gave me leave


17 (63%)


I took vacation time




N/A: self-employed, retired or had the summers off


10 (37%)


I am self-employed

Work has nothing to do with RBS course






Institution paid tuition


12 (44%)


Institution paid tuition ___%


1 (4%)


I paid tuition myself


9 (33%)


Exchange or barter


1 (4%)


N/A: Self-employed, retired or scholarship

4 (15%)




Institution paid housing


11 (41%)


Institution paid for ___% of housing


1 (4%)


I paid for my own housing


13 (48%)


N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home


2 (7%)





Institution paid travel


10 (37%)


Institution paid ___% of my travel




I paid my own travel


16 (59%)


N/A: lived nearby


1 (4%)





There were two full-time students working towards B.A. (7%), one full-time student working towards M.A. (4%), three full-time students working towards M.L.I.S. (11%), five full-time students working towards their Ph.D. (humanities) (19%), one antiquarian bookseller (4%), six rare book librarians (22%), one assistant professor (4%), two librarians with no rare book duties (7%), two librarians/archivists of digital materials (7%), one library administrator (4%), three (11%) cataloguers (general, special collections, health sciences)


How did you hear about this course?


RBS Website

7 (26%)

RBS Printed Schedule

2 (7%)

Work Colleague

9 (33%)


1 (4%) (library school)

note re: website: "I was researching rare book reference resources and the website was invaluable because of the reading lists. The class was also recommended by my professor of rare books."


Word of mouth

7 (26%)

RBS faculty or staff recommendation

1 (4%)





Where did you stay?

Brown College: 17 (63%)

Budget Inn: 1 (4%)

Courtyard Marriott: 1 (4%)

Hampton Inn & Suites: 2 (7%)

Red Roof Inn: 3 (11%)

Other: (1 Sublet from friends in area, with family, at home) 3 (11%)

Were your accommodations (and, if you used UVA Housing, your relations with Conference Services) satisfactory? How could they have been improved?

2: Fine. 3: Yes, there were fine. 4: Conference Services were great! Of note: I stayed before in the exact room in the basement of Brown College and was pleased to note it had been much-renovated (and a much needed one at that!) 5: The floors in the room were a bit gritty when I arrived. 6: My check-in person in Conference Services did not know the names of the roads on campus, which made it difficult to understand where the parking garage was. 7: The basement level housing smelled pretty seriously musty. The construction noise was disruptive. 8: Yes. 9: They were fine. However, I was initially placed in a room with another person, though I had signed up for a single. While awkward, they did remedy the situation. 10: The dorms were clean and close and it was convenient to be near the library. 11: Brown College is so cold, even when the air conditioning is turned all the way down. Could they give us extra blankets? Also, larger towels would be nice. 13: The accommodations at the Hampton Inn were excellent. 14: They were very nice, the housekeeping staff took very good care of me and were prompt with requests for extra pillows or towels. The mattresses were a bit hard but everything was clean. If I had known that there were no reading lamps I would have brought something from home. 15: Satisfactory. 16: Pretty good—a little loud, but I brought earplugs. 17: There is no wi-fi and the computer in the lobby costs 49 cents/minute. 18: Very good. Maintenance responded quickly to a call regarding hot water. Only one problem: the beds are extremely hard, and because of this I do not think I would use Brown College next year. However, the convenience is important. 19: The accommodations were satisfactory, with the exception of the mattresses, which were not very comfortable. I felt like I was sleeping on a stack of cardboard. 20: Yes, they were fine—I wish I could have stayed on the Lawn, but I know the University's renovation schedule dictated that. (I'll just have to come back!) 21: Accommodations were basic dorm level—it was clean, cheap, easy. But I wouldn't do dorms again. 22: Yes—it was just fine. 23: Yes. 24: Very good. Given that the work for this course is so intense, you do not really spend much time in your room—except to collapse in the evening and dream about the perfect collation (no pun intended). 26: N/A. 27: They were fine. Hand soap would have been nice, but it was purchased easily.