15. Rare Materials in Anglo-American Law
Morris L Cohen & David Warrington
(Evaluation of the RBS 1993 version of course; note significant
changes in course content)
A survey of printed and manuscript materials in Anglo-American
law and an introduction to their bibliography and curatorship.
Topics include: the role of legal materials in the development of
the common law; the history of the production and distribution of
law books; guidelines for constituting special collections; legal
bibliographies, catalogs, and reference sources; the history of
collection of legal materials by private collectors and
institutions; and issues in the library administration of rare
1. How useful were the pre-course readings?
1: Very good. They got us started off properly. 2:
Quite helpful. 3: Relevant readings, good background.
4: Good, but I could not get all of them before class be-
cause of their somewhat specialized nature (and the poor holdings
of my library). 5: Extremely useful. The readings provided
an outline in advance for what was presented in class.
2. Were your faculty members well-prepared to teach THIS
1: I can't imagine anyone else doing this course -- two
people in the field. 2: Yes. The handouts were well-
organized (but could have been more easily managed if paginated).
3: Yes, experts in the field, the most knowledgeable
sources, who selected the most helpful topics in a large area.
4: Yes!! 5: Yes.
3. Were your instructors able to communicate effectively
1: Yes. 2: MC and DW work well together and are
well-organized so that material was fully covered. It never got
monotonous and the conversation got very lively sometimes. That
helps. 3: Yes, they complemented each other. The handouts
were wonderful, good guidelines in a lot of areas that I will
constantly refer back to. 4: Yes!! 5: Yes.
4. Was the intellectual level of the course content
1: Yes and no. I think that it depends heavily on the
background of the participants. I think, however, that the
tried to accommodate the whole range of the class. 2: As a
novice in the field, I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to
keep up. MC and DW were both willing to answer questions as
at breaks, which helped considerably. 3: Yes, but any
questions were welcomed and further information provided.
Very much so, considering our extremely varied backgrounds and
needs to learn. 5: Yes. Especially stimulating was the
review/presentation of the various legal materials vis-
information about rare book librarianship.
5. If your course left its classroom to visit Special
Collections or to make a field trip away from the
was the time devoted to this purpose well spent?
1: Yes. 2: We went to the Law Library. This was a
short trip and MC lectured even in the cab. The lecture and
there by Marsha Trimble was excellent. 3: Yes, we went to
Special Collections at the UVa Law School, and it was wonderful
see some titles that we had been talking about. 4: Yes, we
went to the rare book room at the law school -- a curator of the
lection came to talk to -- I wish it could have been longer.
Very well spent -- all materials were well laid out and
Lots of information and items to see in a short time.
6. Did the actual course content correspond to its RBS
brochure description and Expanded Course Description? Did
course in general meet your expectations?
1: Yes, yes. 2: Yes, I felt that I needed a basis
making informed decisions about legal material in a [potential]
courthouse collection. 3: Yes, to both, it will help me a
lot in my position. 4: Yes. 5: Yes. The course more
than met my expectations. More information was presented than I
thought would be. Great!
7. What did you like best about the course?
1: The bibliographies given out will be the most lasting
benefit, but I enjoyed the personalities of the instructors best.
2: I feel more confident that I can make more intelligent
decisions about the above mentioned collection, or at least about
who has the answers and where the answers are. 3: The
ledgeable instructors and the quality of the handouts. 4:
Handouts! Lots of prepared materials for later consultation. Also
lecture styles of both instructors. 5: The
of the instructors and their ability and desire to communicate
their knowledge to the class.
8. How could the course have been improved?
1: I think that if the nature of the exercise that we did
had been either more crisply defined or better understood, it
have been more instructive. Perhaps the books should have been
chosen to use the bibliographic tools better. 2: 3:
The handouts could have been numbered, put into a loose leaf
book, and given out at the beginning of the class. This would
made it easier to refer to all week. Invite a book dealer to
to our book project presentation. 4: Project assigned was
difficult to do in an unfamiliar library and with the time
allotted. Also, perhaps more time on practical matters, which
mostly done on the last day. 5: A small item:
and date the handouts. (But putting them together again will help
9. Any final thoughts?
1: There is too great a mass of material to gain complete
control of in a week, but with some further reading and review,
content of this course will be very valuable. 4: Well
any amount of effort to get here. 5: I feel it has been a
privilege to be able to take this course with these instructors.
have learned a great deal this week. My advice to other persons:
Take this course.
Number of respondents: 5
Leave Tuition Housing Travel
Institution Institution Institution Institution
gave me leave paid tuition paid housing paid travel
100% 60% 20% 20%
I took vaca- I paid tui- I paid for my I paid my own
tion time tion myself own housing travel
0% 20% 80% 80%
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
0% 20% 0% 0%
Three students (60%) were rare book librarians, one (20%) was an
archivist, and one (20%) was a documents librarian.