Rare Book School (RBS) is an independent, non-profit and tax-exempt institute supporting the study of the history of books and printing and related subjects, governed by its own board of directors. Founded in 1983, it moved to its present home at the University of Virginia in 1992.
At various times during the year, RBS offers about 30 five-day, non-credit courses on topics concerning old and rare books, manuscripts, and special collections. The majority of courses take place in Charlottesville, but courses are also offered in New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Bloomington, New Haven, and Washington, DC.
The educational and professional prerequisites for RBS courses vary. Some courses are broadly directed toward antiquarian booksellers, book collectors, bookbinders, conservators, teachers, and professional and avocational students of the history of books and printing. Others are primarily intended for archivists and for research and rare book librarians and curators.
Most Rare Book School courses are limited to twelve or fewer students, who make a full-time commitment to any course they attend, from 8:30 a.m. through 5 p.m., Monday–Friday; most students also attend an orientation or welcome dinner on the Sunday evening before their first class on Monday. In addition to the formal daytime classes, there is an optional early evening public lecture (usually on Monday night), and (especially in Charlottesville) other bookish events throughout the week of the RBS session.
Applications for Rare Book School courses are considered on a rolling basis until a course has reached enrollment capacity. Course applications for summer sessions are available beginning in early January of each year. To be considered for the first round of admissions decisions, submit your application for summer courses by 29 February. For October courses, submit your application by 1 June; for December courses, by 1 September.
Rare Book School at the University of Virginia provides innovative and outstanding educational opportunities to study the history, care, and use of written, printed, and digital materials. Through the hands-on, intensive examination and analysis of textual artifacts in seminar-style classes taught by an international faculty of distinguished scholars and professionals, Rare Book School fosters the knowledge and expertise essential to the responsible stewardship of the historical archive in all its richness and pluriformity. Promoting a spirit of learning and intellectual generosity, Rare Book School builds and enriches relationships among booksellers, collectors, conservators, educators, librarians, and other individuals from around the globe to create a community equipped to advance historically informed understandings of our cultural heritage.
Watch our eight-minute video, “Rare Book School: The Student Experience”
See the Brief History of RBS page for a detailed historical account of RBS through the years.
About the Lion
The RBS lion logo (derived from an early nineteenth-century English watermark, but with many Continental ancestors) made its first appearance on an RBS publication in 1984. See The RBS Lions for a gallery and thorough history.