43. How to Research a Rare Book
D. W. Krummel
(Evaluation of the RBS 1993 version of this course; note changes
in the RBS 1995 course description)
Aimed at reference librarians, catalogers, and others who rou-
tinely research rare books. Strategies for the efficient
identification and interpretation of the bibliographies that are
useful for work with rare and early printed books. Sources pri-
marily in English and in the major other Roman-alphabet
languages; but some attention paid to non-Western sources as
- 1. How useful were the pre-course readings?
2: Very. 4: Didn't do them. 5: Very
useful, and not too much to do. 6: They were quite
pertinent, although not necessarily essential. 9:
Relatively useful. If he could throw in something a little less
dry (in addition) it would be nice. The bibliography is
excellent and will be useful in the future. (In
fact a clean copy of this bibliography would be great since we
scribbled all over the one sent to us before the course.)
- 2. Was your faculty member well-prepared to teach THIS
1: Yes. His knowledge and experience are incredible!
2: Top-notch. DK's background, wit, preparation, and
enthusiasm made this an enjoyable and profitable week.
Absolutely. 4: Very well-prepared. 5: Very.
6: Yes, I was very impressed with his performance.
8: Yes. 9: Extremely well-prepared. Also, the
material was very well organized plus DK has a great sense
- 3. Was the intellectual level of the course content
1-2: Yes. 3. Excellent. Especially appreciated
wonderful anecdotes. 4-5: Yes. 6: Yes, I was very
impressed with his performance. 7: It was all that I
expected it to be. 8-9: Yes.
- 4. Did the actual course content correspond to its RBS
brochure description and Expanded Course Description? Did
course in general meet your expectations?
1-2: Yes. 3. Yes, corresponded well to the course
description. 4: Yes. Yes. 5: Yes. DK stuck to the
syllabus and was very well-prepared. 6: Yes, the
description was very accurate, and I fully expected all that I
encountered. 8-9: Yes.
- 5. What did you like best about the course?
1: Variety of materials covered; well-organized, good
schedule: allowed for lots of hands-on time working on problem
sets. No feeling of competition among members of the class:
low-key atmosphere. 2: Doing the problem sets. The only
way to get to know the various reference tools is through
hands-on searching. 3. DK's thorough, encyclopedic
the subject and its historical perspective. 4: The way
was structured -- we had the morning to work on problem sets,
followed by lunch, followed by a lecture, and ending the day
time to work on the problem sets. 5: Hands-on searching
and non-confrontational review of answers. 6: The fact
that I was introduced to so many different reference sources
which I had not previously known of. 7: Blend of range
focus -- we covered an astonishing variety of sources yet
well-acquainted with the most important ones. The instructor
very generous with his time and advice -- his willingness to
sist us on independent projects was very much appreciated.
8: The sources and assignments. 9: Availability
DK during problem sets. His awareness of each student's
particular interests and uses for the course.
- 6. How could the course have been improved?
1: Call numbers in bibliographies were not always right;
some confusion about what was available or not available; hard
to use materials from Rare Books in the Rare Book Room.
Perhaps working on one or two representative search problems
before students begin searches so that various
might be discussed and familiarity with bibliographic source(s)
might be achieved. 4: Can't think of anything. 6:
I don't think it could have been. The only problem with the
course was the fact that some of the reference sources were not
easily found, caused by RBS's recent move from Columbia.
7: Not at all. To DK: Thank you! 9: Perhaps a few
simpler problems just to get one oriented in a particular
bibliography (in addition to the difficult problems). A little
more information pertaining to the organization of
and the philosophy of search strategy. However, I do think the
time was used effectively.
- 7. Any final thoughts?
1: Bring warm clothes for inside Alderman. Advice to UVa
staff: try not to have your job interfere with RBS attendance.
4: This is a well worth while course to take -- its
approach is hands-on and the examples given applied to a
of backgrounds, librarians, scholars, &c. In addition, DK has a
wealth of information and is wonderful to listen to for a week.
5: Poke through some of the bibliographies on the list
before you get to RBS. 6: Bring coat hangers and an
umbrella! 9: It would be helpful (if at all possible) to
offer opportunities for people to help out, either before,
or during RBS, for partial tuition. I feel that these courses
important for my professional career, yet I don't know when
be able to attend again because of monetary considerations.
Number of respondents: 9
Leave Tuition Housing Travel
Institution Institution Institution Institution
gave me leave paid tuition paid housing paid travel
78% 64% 12% 22%
I took vaca- I paid tui- I paid for my I paid my own
tion time tion myself own housing travel
0% 25% 44% 44%
N/A: self- N/A: Self- N/A: stayed N/A: lived
employed, re- employed, with friends nearby
tired, or had retired, or or lived at
summers off exchange home
22% 11% 44% 34%
Three students (34%) were general librarians with some rare book
duties, two (22%) were rare book librarians, two (22%) were full-
time students, and two (22%) were teachers/professors.