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 the collection of legal materials by private collectors and institutions; and issues in the library administration of rare materials.

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 course?

1: I can't imagine anyone else doing this course -- two top 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 together?

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 appropriate?

1: Yes and no. I think that it depends heavily on the background of the participants. I think, however, that the instructors 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 needed at breaks, which helped considerably. 3: Yes, but any questions were welcomed and further information provided. 4: 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- à-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 University, 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 exhibit there by Marsha Trimble was excellent. 3: Yes, we went to Special Collections at the UVa Law School, and it was wonderful to 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 col- lection came to talk to -- I wish it could have been longer. 5: Very well spent -- all materials were well laid out and presented. 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 the course in general meet your expectations?

1: Yes, yes. 2: Yes, I felt that I needed a basis for 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 know- 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 expertise 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 would 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 note- book, and given out at the beginning of the class. This would have made it easier to refer to all week. Invite a book dealer to listen 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 were mostly done on the last day. 5: A small item: number and date the handouts. (But putting them together again will help me review.)

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, the content of this course will be very valuable. 4: Well worth 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. I 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.