61: Introduction to Descriptive Bibliography [G-10]
11-15 July 2005
Terry Belanger and Richard Noble
Julia Blakely, Gerald Cloud, David Gants, Haven Hawley, David Whitesell
Curator of the Course Museums
1) How useful were the pre-course readings? How successful was the advance use of the DVD, The Anatomy of a Book: Format, as a teaching tool?
1. The readings were helpful, but the video is too expensive for what it is. It’s just a live version of the readings. [Cool! -Ed.] 2. The video was very good. I was a little confused as to what I should concentrate on otherwise. For example, I was told to read Philip Gaskell’s New Introduction to Bibliography, but not (as far as I can remember) what to focus on. 3. The pre-course readings are absolutely essential. Reading Fredson Bowers’s Principles of Bibliographical Description is an absolute must for this class. In fact, I would recommend to go over the collational formula at least twice. The video was useful, but also the facsimile sheets provided with it. 4. The pre-course readings were daunting, but essential for paving the way for the course itself. I would suggest altering the order of the readings, so that TB’s article “Descriptive Bibliography” is read first, followed by John Carter’s ABC for Book Collectors -- it is a much better introduction to the vocabulary. The video was somewhat useful (perhaps less so for me because I had seen it before). 5. The pre-course readings were extremely useful. It would have been a long, frustrating week had I not. The DVD was a good break from reading, but it complemented the reading well. 6. The Anatomy of a Book was very helpful, though I now wish I had just waited and watched it here. It looked mandatory from the letter I received and I could not really afford it (and now have a very expensive donation to the library school, I guess). Roger Stoddard’s Marks in Books was not helpful before class (but will undoubtedly be more interesting when I return). Bowers was phenomenally difficult and thoroughly indispensable. I’m glad I forced myself to read it. Reading Carter’s book three times, probably not necessary. I think I spent too much time with it. TB’s text was great for “understanding” Bowers. 7. The pre-course readings were indispensable, though Carter leaves much to be desired. The Anatomy of a Book: Format was somewhat less useful to me because I already knew much of it. TB’s article should be read first, then Gaskell, then Bowers. 8. Very useful, especially TB’s article, the ABC, and Bowers. The DVD was extremely helpful and is recommended. 9. The readings and videotape are absolutely essential to the course. I found the DVD particularly useful and very straightforward. 10. The readings were very helpful -- essential even. Some more context might have been helpful, though, especially for Bowers, noting that much of it would make more sense once we started working with the books. The film &c. was fine, but rather pricey, and not essential. 11. Very useful, mostly because it allowed everyone to begin with some common knowledge. Homework would have been much more difficult, or even impossible without familiarity with Bowers/Gaskell. 12. The pre-course readings were essential. Though Bowers was incomprehensible at times, it was very necessary to read through it (or at least the chapters suggested) to understand what was going on in the course. Gaskell was much more reader-friendly and gave a good overview of print industry practices. 13. Very. Bowers, despite my sense of understanding nothing of it at the time, stuck with me remarkably well, much to my benefit as the week progressed. 14. The pre-course readings, especially Gaskell and Bowers, were absolutely essential. I enjoyed viewing the video, since it helped me to visualize some of the concepts presented in the readings. I was also glad the video had an accompanying workbook, which can serve as a helpful reference tool. 15. The reading list was essential -- both in terms of being a necessary prerequisite and for having been distilled down to what really matters. Take the time to read and grasp (and fold up) Bowers’s examples. Keep scrap paper for folding handy at all times. 16. The readings were very useful. However, the collations were (as they should be) more complex than those in the readings. 17. The pre-course readings were useful, although Stoddard [Marks in Books], for example, didn’t come up until the final lecture. I could have used more guidance on which parts of Gaskell to focus on, as I didn’t have time to read it all before class. The DVD was a good basic review/overview -- I should have watched it first! 18. The readings were essential, especially Bowers and Gaskell. Having done the readings, I found the DVD to be less helpful than I expected, though it did at least help me visualize duodecimo format more clearly. 19. The pre-course readings were absolutely necessary for survival in this course. I didn’t see the video, but I heard it wasn’t that good or especially worth the price. 20. The readings were useful, though I feel that it is the course that has prepared me for understanding Bowers, and not Bowers that prepared me for the course. The single most helpful reading was TB’s article in Book Collecting. I found Gaskell profitable to read -- Bowers was certainly more challenging and frustrating, in that it seemed that relevant information was scattered at random among a variety of locations. The DVD was helpful. 21. Bowers and Gaskell are obviously essential. I was surprised to see the ABC on the list (but loved your 3D Carter!). The DVD and paper samples were a good introduction. 22. The readings were very helpful -- essential for taking the course. The video was really useful -- I was able to pause and rewind as I needed to understand it better. 23. Very useful and essential. I thought the video was not only useful, but also witty and entertaining.
2) Were the course syllabus, exit reading list, and other materials distributed in class useful (or will they be so in the future, after you return home)?
1. I believe the exit list is manageable and will be useful. 2. Very useful. 3. The exit reading list is very useful. I’m still new to this field; the exit reading list is an important tool to improve my knowledge of the field. 4. Yes. I expect to get a lot of future use out of the workbook, and especially the exit reading list -- an invaluable resource. 5. Yes. 6. Very. 7. Very useful and comprehensive, and no doubt will be in the future. 8. Yes. 9. I found the schedule a bit confusing at first, but after the first day you get the hang of it. I think the re-indexing of Bowers’s chapter 5, and the section on typography in the workbook, are excellent tools for quick reference. I can’t wait to start on the exit reading list. 10. Very helpful. 11. I’m particularly excited to dive into the exit reading list. Professionally, there were several handouts and exercises that I could imagine using with my own students. 12. The exit reading list appears more than sufficient to keep me occupied for a long time to come. Having it set up in a reading order is particularly helpful. 13. Excellent reading list. The schedule published in the workbook did not always include lunchtime demonstrations, or at least I didn’t find them there. 14. I greatly look forward to reviewing the exit reading list and delving into topics in the future. 15. All are brilliant. The progressive format of the exit list is especially welcome. 17. The materials should prove very useful. I’m particularly looking forward to reading some of the items on the list that were mentioned in class. 18. Yes, these materials were useful. I expect to make heavy use of the exit reading list. 19. The syllabus was somewhat confusing at first, but it got easier once a daily rhythm was established. The museum guide is great -- I will keep it for reference. I’m sure I will look to several books on the exit list in the future. 20. Yes, very much so. 21. Yes. 22. Excellent. 23. Very useful.
3) 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. Homework and labs reinforced the material. Museums were great opportunities to see objects I would never have been able to see otherwise. 2. I was a little worried that many aspects of the course were too detailed for my needs, but the course did a very good job in giving me a detailed look at how books (and the business) were put together from press to sale. 3. I’m a rare book cataloger, and I needed to develop a better understanding of how to create a signature statement in the DCRB record. The level of the course was appropriate. 4. I think all of it was of interest and relevance -- I will be able to use collational formulas in both my work and my scholarship (if nothing else, now being able to read them accurately), and I have gained insight into the mechanics of book production which I would like to flesh out further for both work and scholarship. The intellectual level of the course was challenging, but appropriate, though it did presuppose some knowledge or background in bibliography that not all students shared (there was some name-dropping, in particular). 5. Yes, the intellectual level was appropriate. Collation was of the greatest interest -- always new challenges! I have a feeling this will be the biggest benefit. 6. I really liked the museums. I see this course as a teaching tool for me and hope to use it as an instructional librarian (and advocate for books as artifacts). The intellectual level was very satisfying. 7. Actually working with the books -- collating -- was the most useful and most fun. 8. Homework and lab sessions, as well as much of the museum content. The intellectual level was appropriate. 9. Although I can’t apply DesBib principles to the work I do as a MSS librarian, I have certainly learned to appreciate the detail-oriented work that goes into the type of work I do in MS transcription and cataloging MSS. 10. I think the intensity of the course is its greatest asset. This is almost like learning another language -- only full immersion will do. 11. Experience with format and collation was so helpful -- especially because we were able to discuss findings and ask questions. One real benefit of the course is having instructors with different backgrounds and areas of expertise -- each person had some different wisdom to impart. 12. The labs were by far the best and most stimulating part of the course. The hands-on work greatly helped to explain the reading and the lectures. The intellectual level was appropriate -- I felt challenged but never overwhelmed. 13. RN’s extemporaneous exegesis on Bowers p.316, lines 6-12, in lecture captured perfectly what I learned from this course: an intuitive grasp of the relations between the parts of a book described by the collational formula. Homework and labs were indispensable for achieving (or experiencing) that grasp. 14. I appreciated learning more about format and collation in this structured setting. The intellectual level was appropriate. 15. The nuts and bolts of the formulary (and practice putting them together). 17. The hands-on aspects -- labs, homework, and museums -- really made a difference. It’s true that just reading Bowers does not render you capable of good collational work! The intellectual level did seem appropriate. 18. I found the Tuesday and Wednesday sessions on paper and printing surfaces to be of the greatest interest. Monday’s sessions provided a useful overview/introduction to the rest of the week, and Thursday’s helped tie things together -- especially the discussion of ideal copy. The course demanded a lot of work, but the intellectual level wasn’t too high. 19. The intellectual level was good -- a lightheartedness seemed to prevail, which helped to counter the tiresome and tedious processes. I suppose what I learned will come in handy when writing book catalogs. 20. Learning how to examine the book so as to prepare a collation statement, and learning best practices for formulating a collation statement. The intellectual level was appropriate. 21. I was particularly interested in the collation exercises. I had expected to see some more complicated books -- and did in day three’s homework. The earlier homeworks were a little frustrating, as I was expecting more challenging exercises -- but there were still interesting points in these books. 22. The intellectual level of the course was high, challenging and stimulating. The homework, labs, and museums were very interesting. 23. The museums were very useful -- and are one of the greatest things about RBS. In this course, obviously, the homework and associated labs were also invaluable.
4) To what extent did the Museums contribute to the success of the course? How could they have been improved? How useful to you were (or will be) the copies of the Museum labels?
1. See answer to question three. 2. The major problem with the museums was the vast amount of material to cover; I wish I had more time to absorb everything presented. 3. I really enjoyed the DesBib museums. They are an excellent tool to put everything into perspective. The problem with the museums was that there was never quite enough time to finish and, because of the homework assignments, no time to go back. 4. The museums and catalogs are essential to the success of the course -- there is nothing quite like getting to handle examples yourself to improve your understanding of the topic. They could be improved with some amount of oral explication about the objects on display (or a select few), and more overt examples of the verbs to go with the nouns on display, as it were. 5. I thought they were helpful. Maybe a few less items on display -- it tended to be overwhelming. 6. Excellent! Sometimes pieces on display were not clearly marked, so I didn’t always know what I was looking at. Nevertheless, very enjoyable. 7. Museums were very important. I think one could learn description without them, but it would be a great handicap -- the exhibits, with the hands-on aspect, provide context and elaboration to description. 8. The museums were helpful. More illustrations in the catalog would be helpful for consultation after the course ends, considering the course is only a week long and it is difficult to make it through everything presented in such a short time span. 9. The museums are absolutely crucial to learning in this class! It’s great to see that RBS has such a fantastic collection of teaching aids. I am particularly grateful to the staff for making the museum booklet to take home! 10. These were good to have much of the stuff come alive -- I would have liked to have 3D Carter or something like it as a museum. Still, when to fit it in? 11. Very helpful! Especially in cases where seeing the “thing” (type mold, for instance) really helps to make something understandable. I loved the paper museum! The last museum was somewhat less useful to me, mostly because being a lit student at a large research institution I have access to many of the same materials. 12. The museums (especially the paper museum), like the labs, helped place the readings and lectures in perspective. Being able to handle a type casting mold, for instance, was so much better than simply reading about it. The catalog in the paper museum gave the greatest direct help in working with the books. 13. No substitutes for seeing/handling objects described in the course and its readings will do. Who wrote the catalog descriptions? [Many hands, over many years. -Ed.] 14. One of the great benefits of RBS is the chance to see so many examples in the course museums. The museum should have a Hinman collator demo! 15. Wonderful! Suggestions: for the paper museum, swap location of “Paper Made Wrong” and “Alternate Methods to Beta Radiation” so the former is at the window: it needs wide diffuse light; the latter can be seen adequately with a Zelco lantern. 16. Having the catalog prior to the museum sessions was helpful in determining what to focus on. 17. I thoroughly enjoyed the museums and only wished I had more time for them -- somehow I never made it back at night (between homework and other activities). 18. They brought the course to life for me -- truly invaluable. I spent an extra 30 minutes to an hour at the museums each day they were offered. 19. Hands-on learning is key. This was excellent. Some stations had to be rushed through because of time. 20. The museums and their catalogs were an excellent teaching aid. It is hard to see how they could be improved upon. 21. I liked the museums a lot -- particularly the paper one. I was very glad the instructors were there to answer questions; there was a lot to see, so evening openings were excellent. 22. Excellent museums and catalogs! I can’t imagine the time, money, and knowledge that’s gone into creating them. 23. See answer to number three above. My only regret about the museums was that I never had time to get through every single exhibit thoroughly.
5) 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?
Julia Blakely: 1. Very effective instructor and responsive to questions. 2. Though I did struggle, I feel that each day I improved. The instructor was very good. One problem, as in the museums, is the lack of time spent on perfecting collation and working out bad habits, problems, &c. 3. The format-and-collation labs were excellent. JB is a wonderful tutor, very knowledgeable and very patient, never too tired to review questions again. I really learned a lot in the lab. One comment I have is that baskets could have been more of a mix of easier and difficult books, rather than easy books on Monday, difficult books on Tuesday, and very difficult books on Wednesday. 4. Fairly successful. It could have been improved by a more engaging lab group, but that is no fault of the instructor. JB was good at explaining things, providing examples and references, and answering questions. She sometimes misstates things, which can be a little confusing, but it was generally clear what she meant. Gerald Cloud: 5. Labs were successful and enjoyable. The instructor did a great job. If they can be improved, I don’t know how! 6. Great. I really could feel myself learning. GC was great -- really knowledgeable, but also very thoughtful. Pass out answer sheets near the end of discussion so that we can ask questions about them. I tended not to look at them later (except the last day at clean-up). 7. Very successful. The instructor was patient and perceptive. 8. The labs were fantastic and extremely helpful. the instructor was very knowledgeable and, when he did not have an answer to questions, would consult RN and fill in students at the next lab session. 9. The labs were very informative, and although it seems like a flashback to high school algebra class (ugh!), it was extremely helpful to be able to put formulas on the board. GC was a great teacher, very clear and willing to work with the students. One suggestion I would make is to allow for the students to work together, even if for a short time before the labs. I found Bowers particularly difficult to read and think that some exchange with my cohorts (even if limited time allowed) would have been useful. 10. Labs were great, though I could have always used more of them. Still, I realize we only have five days. David Gants: 11. So wonderful! DG is very knowledgeable and is a kind and patient teacher. These labs worked kind of like language immersion -- I learned more in one week than I expected to. 12. Labs were amazing. DG did a superb job of explaining (or, better, allowing us to come to the proper explanation) the books. Labs could have lasted longer (another 15-30 minutes), as we often did not finish all of the books. 13. Absolutely wonderful, intensely, though often darkly, illuminating. See also response to question three above. Beforehand the prospect of labs seemed daunting; by the end I was delighted to scrawl my garbled formulas on the board and learn from discussing (or disputing) the errors of my way. The heart of the course; they could be longer. 14. Labs were a helpful follow-up to the homework assignments. DG was excellent: very knowledgeable, articulate, and with a good sense of humor. One small thought: perhaps in future, rather than going into homework sessions “cold,” labs could preview what will be seen, and what students should look for. 15. Very successful. Our lab instructor was able to help us talk through our problems so that we could see the “alternatives” and what they would imply. Haven Hawley: 16. The labs were the most valuable component of the class. The instructor was very knowledgeable and gently led the group through the sessions. 17. HH was friendly and helpful, and her enthusiasm was great -- even though I couldn’t always follow her discussions for imposition issues and printing practices. She was also very nice about addressing questions we raised (even if slightly peripheral). She brought us extra books on the last day to provide examples of certain issues (at our request). 18. I found it useful to go over the collational and pagination formulas, but perhaps some of the books could have been more challenging. My lab instructor was great -- encouraging and critical at the same time. The labs might be improved by limiting the number of students to two per instructor. David Whitesell: 19. Our group worked well together. Everyone got things right and everyone got things wrong. DW was great at pointing out and correcting mistakes while not making us feel stupid. More explanation or further reading on c19 books would be helpful. Those seemed to pose the greatest problems for everyone. 20. For my purposes, the labs were probably the most useful part of the course. I learned a great deal from DW’s instruction here -- he did a really fine job, and I much appreciated having a fellow cataloger as my instructor. This was a truly excellent element of the course, and I would like to give DW a special vote of thanks and appreciation. 21. The lab instructor was well-prepared, knowledgeable, and very clear. I think the range of books could have been better. I saw very few cancels and no insertions (however, my lab instructor did show me some other examples of these) -- but I did get to see some stereotype examples. 22. No improvement whatsoever on the labs. DW is a fantastic instructor, and I learned so much from each lab experience. They are a very good component of the course -- much appreciated! 23. Our lab instructor was fantastic, and I thought his Socratic approach was extremely effective. I only wish that there were enough hours in the week for more labs.
6) What did you like best about the course?
1. The hands-on experience. 2. The exposure for a week to other people in my field or similar fields, fellow RBS students and instructors, is one great aspect of the school. Also, the learning tools, especially the museums, are excellent. 3. I liked everything about this class. But the labs really were the best part. This is where it all came together. 4. The opportunity to delve deeply into a subject with a diverse and interesting group of people -- and seeing how much we all learned in the course of the week. It was fascinating to put together all the pieces of what we were learning and to have some kind of picture of what book production was like emerge. 5. The learning experience and the feeling that I was “getting it.” Also, the camaraderie. 6. The focus. I liked feeling like I was really learning something useful (in some manner or another). 7. The thrill of discovering the key to a particular collation, and the camaraderie of the group. 8. Small lab instruction/attention and homework. 9. Museums, museums, museums! There was more than enough opportunity for hands-on learning in this course. 10. Again, the intensity of it. I really felt like I was learning something important and truly relevant to my field. I don’t think I can single out one thing. 11. Homework and labs. RN’s sense of humor. 12. Being able to actually handle and manipulate books in such a way as to really “dig in” to the guts of the book. 13. Labs, lectures, homework, the concluding lecture. 14. I appreciated the chance to learn about this topic from some very knowledgeable instructors. The format of the course (homework, lab, lecture, museum) is perfect. 15. The sheer joy of spending a week doing such minute work with other people who care about it. 16. The labs and subsequent sessions with the instructor and the “correct” sheets to compare our collation, pagination, &c. 17. Spending time with other people interested in this subject while working in a focused way on challenging material -- this was a pleasure. In terms of the four basic components of the DesBib course, I’d have to say the museums were the most fun. 18. I enjoyed discussing books as physical objects with the other students and the staff, and seeing in the museums examples of what we discussed. 19. I liked the hands-on aspect of the course. It is a great way to learn. I also liked the friendly nature of all the staff and instructors. I felt like I belonged to a small family or community while I was here. 20. The format-and-collation labs. 21. Hard to say -- but probably the homework, as I just enjoyed doing the work and puzzling things through. That said, the museums are a fantastic resource. 22. The confidence and significantly increased comfort with collating books it gave me. 23. I liked all of the hands-on experience -- museums and homework sessions. I also thought that the workbook and museum catalogs were great. I relied heavily on the index to Bowers in the workbook.
7) How could the course as a whole have been improved?
2. More time. Perhaps make it a two-week course. 3. I can’t think of anything. 4. Too many activities were crammed into break times (like lunch). I understand why this was necessary, but it felt like we were constantly rushing to wolf down our meals and get back in time for the next thing. The common press demo needs to be more prominently placed in the schedule/course -- everyone who takes this course should see that. 5. Perhaps not quite so much work that you ended up skipping meals and evening lectures to get it all in. 6. Perhaps one less book at the outset? Maybe a teaching case early on (but when??). 7. It is clear that the instructors have been very responsive to suggestions over the years, and I can’t imagine any improvements in one area that wouldn’t adversely affect another area. It seems to me a good mix of activities in a course that really allows too little time to do everything. 8. (1) More illustrations in the museum catalog for reference following course attendance. It also might be helpful to send museum catalogs in advance to students so that they can read them in advance of arriving at RBS. (2) Additional demos for the “optional” items (ProScope, &c.), given the limited free time when homework is assigned for the first few days of the course; perhaps they could be held later in the week. 9. I really think the best approach to learning DesBib is the boot camp training we received. I wish I would have had more time for lectures and Bookseller Night. 10. Hard to say -- all I can think is that I would have liked to have more exposure to cancels; we didn’t have them in our clean-up lab. Still, it’s excellent. 11. It would be really helpful if at least one of the lab books existed in two copies, since the ability to compare copies just isn’t available. 12. The lectures seemed a tad unfocused or perhaps were more of a replaying of the reading. For improvement then -- structure the lectures in a more focused way on the topic at hand. 13. More time for labs. 14. I guess I would like a bit more attention to other aspects of bibliographical description beyond the collational formula, such as transcription and how to write various types of notes. Admittedly much of this is more straightforward, but still, at least some treatment would be helpful, I think. Also, some discussion of what one will see in the homework would be helpful. 15. Encourage instructors to ask other instructors to weigh in when questions come up during museums. Several times I had questions where one person didn’t have an answer, and I’d have liked to have batted the question around a larger group. 16. Perhaps more but shorter lab sessions. 17. A couple of the lectures could have been a bit more focused. The Thursday lecture included some content that might have been helpful earlier on (e.g. the assessment of various parts of Bowers). 19. It’s a lot to absorb in five days. I think you have this course down to a science. I’m sure you’ve been fine-tuning it for years, but it really seems to work well. 20. I don’t know! I think you have hit an optimal level here in hitting on the amount of information that we students can humanly absorb in the time available. 21. Better selection of books for the collation exercises. 22. No improvement needed. It has an excellent structure of homework, lab, lecture, and museum. The individual attention and group interactions are well-balanced and excellent learning opportunities. You feel like you’ve learned so much from this course. 23. I know it is asking a lot, but if it were possible to have more assistants (lab instructors) available during the evening homework sessions, this would cut down on time spent waiting to ask them questions (sometimes there were queues). Also, since Bowers gives it short shrift, perhaps some more workbook materials on working with c19 books would be useful. It also occurred to me that an errata sheet for Bowers would be useful, if someone had the time to compile it.
8) If you attended the Sunday and/or Monday night lectures, were they worth attending?
1. I didn’t find the Monday lecture to be terribly interesting, and it seemed like we were expected to attend. 2. I was not crazy about the topic, but the lecture was very professional. 3. I attended the Sunday lecture, which I enjoyed very much. This was my first class here. It was an excellent introduction. 4. TB’s lecture Sunday was well worth attending -- very enjoyable. The Monday night lecture was enjoyable but somewhat lacking in substance. 5-6. Yes. 7. Alas, homework and exhaustion kept me from Monday night’s lecture, interesting though it sounded. Sunday’s lecture was definitely worthwhile. 8. Yes. 9. The Monday lecture was interesting in its own right but had nothing to do with my course. 10. Sunday, certainly. Monday’s lecture was on a topic I was really familiar with, but it was a good lecture all the same. 12. The penmanship lecture was sufficiently interesting. 14. I attended both lectures. Sunday is especially helpful as orientation. The Monday night lectures always feature an expert speaking on a topic of interest to rare-book people. This year was no exception. 15. TB’s Sunday talk was excellent, as usual. Monday night’s lecture was a bit disappointing: images were squashed by poor aspect ratio and blocked by non-raked seating, and the content was not very compelling because the structure was hard to discern. 17. Yes, although I was a bit disappointed by the penmanship talk. 18. Yes, they were both enjoyable, and provided a nice opportunity to chat with other RBS folks afterwards. 19. Sunday was entertaining; Monday was just okay. Penmanship’s not really my bag. 20. Yes! 21. Yes -- very enjoyable. 22. The Monday night one was interesting, though I was a bit preoccupied with the homework that awaited me. The Sunday night one was a good orientation to RBS. 23. Very entertaining and worthwhile.
9) If you attended Museum and Video Nights, was the time profitably spent?
1. Yes. 3. I only had time to attend presentations by TB on Tuesday night, which were very interesting. 4. I did not attend. 5. Yes. 7. Did not attend. 8. Yes. 14. Didn’t attend. 15. Tuesday’s Demo Night was great: the first time I’ve seen it done as a series of a few presentations instead of a free-for-all of lots of materials, so it was the first time I wasn’t in a panic about maybe running out of time or missing something hard to grasp on my own. 18. Yes, I attended on Wednesday evening, and it gave me a chance to see what I didn’t have time to see in the afternoon museum. 19. I had to spend most of my time doing homework but saw the last 10 minutes of the Sotheby’s video. It was a good distraction from the homework. I enjoyed Bookseller Night. 20. I couldn’t attend these, as I needed the time to do my homework. But I felt that doing the homework was extremely beneficial, and don’t feel that you should reduce the time devoted to homework. 21. The Museum Night ran on from my museum session -- which was very handy, as I could just take my time and walk through everything. 23. I worked on homework during these times.
10) Did you get your money’s worth? Any final thoughts?
1. The price seems reasonable for all of the materials we handle and food we consume (along with other resources). 2. It is definitely worth the money. My advice to future students is to concentrate on Bowers before coming. 3. Absolutely. This was just a wonderful experience, and I very much wish to attend more classes. I’m still new to the field of rare books and this is a great place to learn. I’m most interested in a binding class. 4. Absolutely. Don’t be intimidated by the reading -- it will all become clear. Be prepared to work hard, but it is well worth the effort. 5. Yes! Come prepared. 6. Yes! Read Bowers early, but don’t obsess on the oblique instructions. It is just a noun (or full of nouns) -- the verbs come later. 7. Yes. I feel better rewarded by this course than perhaps any I’ve ever taken. 8. Yes; be certain to see the DVD and get through chapters 5, 7, and 12 in Bowers if nothing else before attending. 9. I would recommend this course to anyone who’s interested in rare books and is up for a challenge. I certainly learned a lot, especially through my mistakes in lab. 10. Absolutely -- I can’t imagine how else I could learn this. 11. Absolutely -- particularly in terms of (1) the amazing RBS resources and organization of those resources (I was struck many times over the course of the week by how very, very well-organized and thoughtful the class structure was), and (2) the wealth of knowledge and help at our disposal -- between TB and RN and all the lab instructors. Questions were encouraged, and answers always supplied eagerly and thoroughly. 12. Yes. all around, this was a great experience. Don’t believe any of the “July in Charlottesville” business -- stay on the Lawn. Do the reading. And make good use of the lab instructors; they’re willing to talk. (Offer them a drink first, though.) 13. Certainly. Anyone who wants to get the feel of the game when it comes to looking at books and understanding what they are as physical things and how they came to be that way should try to get into this course. I also came away with a very clear impression of the current state of the bibliographical trade, its diversity, and prospects for future development. 14. Certainly got my money’s worth here, as I have with all RBS courses. Excellent teachers, excellent resources, great setting, highly recommended. 15. Yes! This was so much more than “my money’s worth.” I’m giddy with excitement for the “industrial archaeology” of printing. 17. Yes! Read your Bowers, no matter how busy you are! Expect long days (especially Monday-Wednesday) and hard work, but a lot of fun and a sense of accomplishment at the end. You won’t be ready to publish a bibliography, but you’ll have a better understanding of the structure(s) of books and a sense of how to continue your studies (if desired). And you will, most likely, have met some interesting peers! 18. Yes. The intensive learning experience and initiation into the rare-books community will serve me well for years to come. 19. Yes. People considering the course should look at the type of things it covers and make sure it is something that will truly be beneficial to them in their career -- because it is not easy and doesn’t, in a broad sense, seem to be that useful. 20. Yes, and I will more than gladly assure my institution that it got its money’s worth as well. I was glad to see so many MLS students taking this course, and wish that I had received both the opportunity and encouragement to do so earlier in my career. Keep up the good work! I was most impressed with how well the course was organized, how smoothly it ran, and the high caliber of the assistants. The collections of RBS are an invaluable teaching resource! Thank you for making this week so well-spent! 21. I am very glad that I took this course -- not least because now I can do the Advanced DesBib course next year. I am also extremely glad to have discovered RBS. It is definitely value for money -- I don’t know of anywhere else where you could take a similar course. 22. I got my money’s worth ten times over. Where else could I have access to such expertise, artifacts, and knowledge? Thank you! My advice would be to do all the reading and not to worry about all the work involved with the homework, because you just do it and it’s so fun and worth it. 23. Don’t come here without having done the reading. The better your knowledge of the Bowers formulary, the better off you’ll be. If it were possible, it would be great to have “courses” where you could come and do more “homework” exercises alternating with labs. I know there’s an Advanced DesBib course, but I think DesBib is something that you only learn with a lot of practice, so it would be useful if people could take as many “practice courses” as feasible -- these would be standing sessions and students could take them as many times as they wanted, just to practice. (Obviously, eventually you will have been through all of the boxes, but getting that far would be a valuable accomplishment.)
Number of respondents: 24
Leave Tuition Housing Travel
Institution Institution Institution Institution
gave me leave paid tuition paid housing paid travel
56% 65% 61% 65%
I took vaca- I paid tui- I paid for my I paid my own
tion time tion myself own housing travel
9% 26% 35% 35%
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
35% 9% 4% 0%
There were eight full-time students (35%), four rare book librarians (17%), four archivist/manuscript librarians (17%), two general librarians with some rare book duties (9%), two antiquarian booksellers (9%), one general librarian with no rare book duties (4%), one book collector (4%), and one monograph cataloger who spends some time with rare materials (4%).