Eric Holzenberg

H-40: The Printed Book in the West since 1800

6-10 January 2006

1) How useful were the pre-course readings?

1: The pre-course readings were well matched to the course. The Rota [Apart from the Text] and Cave [The Private Press] were especially useful. 2: Great texts; I’ll buy them when I get a chance. 3: Very useful, especially the reading on the more technical aspects of bookmaking (this is my weak area). 4: Exactly pertinent to course and lectures. 5: Very useful to provide context as well as specific factual information discussed in the course. 6: The Gaskell [A New Introduction to Bibliography] and Rota were particularly useful. You may suggest that students need Rota first. Cave, too, was useful. 500 Years of Printing [Steinberg] seemed mostly repetitious. 7: Repetitive (Gaskell, Rota, Steinberg). 8: The pace of the course (30 hours over five days) makes pre-course reading essential. 9: Required/recommended reading provided a strong background for the course and supported course content. 10: Extremely useful and valuable, especially Rota’s book, Apart from the Text, and Gaskell. Cave’s book was OK, but less interesting. Steinberg’s was essential reading. 11: They were good preparation for the class, but will be of even greater value following these five days of instruction.


2)   Were the course syllabus and other materials distributed in class useful (or will they be so in the future, after you return home)?

1: The syllabus was fine. The course packet provided relevant information in a single tool. 2: Yes, I will continue to refer to them in the future. 3: Yes. The handout/booklet had many useful illustrations, particularly of technical processes (e.g. Linotype). 4: Yes. The workbook will continue to serve as a wonderful resource. 5: Yes -- a good indication of class structure and helpful in guiding other readings. 6: The workbook is fantastic. I plan to use it in my teaching for other purposes. The pictures are an unbelievable resource. 7: To a point. See No. 10. 8: Syllabus and materials were useful. It was particularly helpful to have the for-credit project

emailed prior to class. The syllabus, however, did not really need to be e-mailed ahead. 9: Yes. Useful to locate and organize oneself during teaching sessions. The workbook was useful during class and will continue to be useful for reference. 10: Course syllabus is a good reference. 11: Yes -- I was particularly impressed with the workbook that was distributed and the important reference source it will be for me to use in the future.


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: The ability to look at relevant examples of the Grolier Club holdings was a privilege. 2: a. All of it. b. Definitely. 3: All aspects were relevant . While I am interested in livres d’artiste and artists’ books, I do not work with this material at Brooklyn Public Library. The intellectual level was appropriate. 4: a. The technician discussion was precisely what I was hoping for. b. Yes. 5: Historical overview of processes, technology, issues in book production, market, and literacy. High intellectual level and interesting variety in participants’ personal and professional experience and insights. 6: The intellectual level of the course was very appropriate. It was also helpful that class members had contributions to our discussions. Going through all of the technology was perhaps the most useful. 7: Too repetitive of the already repetitive material in the texts pre-assigned. Illustration processes were interesting, but it was not always clear if the instructor knew what we were looking at. 8: The description of illustration processes were of great educational value, personally. 9: History of printing was very useful and made continually interesting through objects and materials used during demonstrations/instruction. Intellectual level was accessible, not daunting. 10: The structure of the course - moving through the period 1800-the present - was helpful in giving us a context to work within. 11: The intellectual content was absolutely appropriate. I found that the design of the approach to the class was of particular relevance in that it examined from the same perspectives (i.e., technology, aesthetics, and design, bindings, illustration processes, and “audience”) each of the chronological periods under consideration.


4)   If your course had field trips, were they effective?

1: Bowne & Co. Was fun and terrific to have the opportunity to “print.” 2: Yes, I found the field trip quite nice. I would have liked to have more, even. 3: Yes. The visit to Bowne Stationers offered a rare chance to see a hand press in operation. 4: Very! I loved getting a hands-on feel for printing and compositing. 5: Trip to Bowne and Co. Was very informative- helpful to see and use hand presses. 6: Bowne Stationers. Was a real treat, and, if I didn’t already have experience with those machines, I know I would have appreciated it even more. 7: Good. 8: Both field trips (South Street and the Sir Thomas Phillipps [Room at the GC]) were of great educational value, personally. 9: Yes, very. 10: Yes. It was extremely informative to see iron hand presses and Bowne Stationers, and the staff there was so interesting and informative. 11: The field trip brought to life what we had been learning about printing on hand presses in a particularly vivid manner, especially as we were each permitted to actually print a page.


5)   What did you like best about the course?

1: Our interactions with the books - and the information/stories related to specific examples. 2: Everything. 3: The combination of the historical, aesthetic and technical aspects of book production of the last two centuries. I also enjoyed viewing the many examples of books, etc. 4: Combination of discussion with [indecipherable] examples and hands-on training. 5: Cohesive approach to c19 and c20 books; in-depth explanation of relevant technologies; wider context for developments in book production. 6: I really enjoyed looking through the fine press books; although I wish we had had more time with individual books and perhaps fewer examples. 7: Looking at and handling the materials related to printing history (e.g. a Monotype matrix). 8: The sessions on private and fine presses were the most enjoyable. 9: Relaxed, friendly atmosphere of classes established immediately and maintained throughout. Involvement./participation/questions of class members welcomed and accommodated. Occasional tendency of class members to side-bar was strictly controlled and gently done. 10: The vast amount of knowledge Eric Holzenberg brings to the course and the resources of both GC and RBS. The talks by Peter Strauss and Jerry Kelly added some piquancy to the lectures, as well. 11: All of it -- I think it functioned beautifully as a cohesive whole.


6)   How could the course have been improved?

1: Add more light to the classroom. Have a reference shelf of materials from the classes to be looked at on personal time. 2: If it was longer. 3: The instructor was very knowledgeable, articulate, and lively. My only suggestion for improvement is to better organize the presentation of the material. 4: I don’t feel I know enough about the topic to judge - I really enjoyed my experience. 5: More discussion of other historical events/effects on literacy and book trade; less emphasis on and examples of modern fine press. 6: I thought the course was very helpful and useful. I can’t think of any improvements I would make. 7: 1. Less repetition of pre-assigned reading. 2. Less reluctance to let students handle or closely examine books and other objects. It’s not useful to have a book passed by without an opportunity to ‘connect’ with it. 3. More examples and equipment relating to illustrations, e.g. copper plates, wood blocks. 8: A more sophisticated video of contemporary book production would be an improvement, but the current video is adequate. 9: A light source above the instructor’s table would have improved the way books were demonstrated. The room generally was not well-lit. Slightly better preparation of exhibited materials would have saved time spent looking for items on book trucks. 10: Better lighting in the seminar room. More opportunity to examine the books. 11: I’ll have to think about that one (and I’m still not concerned I’d have anything to add.)


7)   We are always concerned about the physical well-being both of the RBS teaching collections and of materials owned by UVa’s Special Collections. If relevant, what suggestions do you have for the improved classroom handling of such materials used in your course this week?

1: N/A. 2: They were handled well. I would have liked to handle more of them myself, but realize this isn’t in the books’ best interests. Maybe more personal time with fewer total books? 3: All materials were handled respectfully by students and instructor. 4: Not sure. While protracted standing can be a bit hard, the experience of rests is what makes class so enjoyable. I don’t really see a way to solve this. 5: Better lighting would make it easier to see items passed quickly. More book cradles would allow us to examine fragile items more easily. 6: I think a different room arrangement would have been helpful. It was difficult for us to see the books at times, and the standing got hard on the feet and concentration, at times. Perhaps a square table arrangement? 7: To remedy the above there could be book cradles around [which]we’d gather. This was done to a certain extent, more in the later days. 8: Perhaps large tables for temporary display of collection materials. 9: Might consider using a separate table to lay out books at specific relevant openings. 10: Better lighting and more opportunities to see (and even touch) the books. More access to the RBS books, too. 11: I was most impressed with the care and concern that was demonstrated in the handling of the materials.


8)   If you attended the Sunday and/or Monday night lectures, were they worth attending?

1: N/A. 2: Didn’t attend Mon. Tuesday was very interesting. 3: N/A. 4: Unfortunately, and I emphasize unfortunately, I was not able to attend. I did, however, really enjoy the tour on Wednesday. 5: Yes. 6: Yes; although it might have been a good idea to move the Wednesday tour to Monday along with Terry Belanger’s welcome. Then, on Wednesday, perhaps have a more pronounced opportunity for study. 7: N/A. 8: Yes, particularly Tuesday night. A lecture in association with a current exhibition should be a regular part of the course. 9: Yes. But TB was barely audible on Monday, so suggest increased volume next time. 10: Yes. Hearing about the history and future plans of RBS was fascinating. And I also enjoyed hearing about David Stam’s experience putting the books on an exhibit together. 11: I was only able to attend the Monday evening lecture, but found it interesting to learn of RBS’s history and its present situation.

9) If you attended Wednesday evening study night at the Grolier Club, was it worth attending?

1: Having a tour of the GC was informative and interesting - particularly about the context of establishing bibliophilic societies. 2: Yes, definitely. 3: N/A. 4: Did not attend. 5: Took tour at GC which was interesting and informative. 6: Where students asked in advance for the books they wanted to see. I really felt like I missed out on time to spend with the books in more in-depth study. 7: N/A. 8: Yes, I appreciated the tour of the club house. 9: Yes. 10: Yes - the tour of the club was enjoyable. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to work on my project. 11: N/A.


10) Did you get your money’s worth? Any final thoughts?

1: Yes. It was a joy! Thanks to all who worked together to make RBS North possible. 2: Yes, I did. Try to get to sleep early every night. These are long and exhausting days. 3: N/A. 4: Absolutely! Be very prepared! I did reading in advance, but only once. I should have read everything twice. The pace of the course demands it. 5: Definitely do the reading beforehand to get the most from each day’s sessions. Not as much content or discussion as a comparable semester of library school courses. 6: I definitely felt like RBS was worth the trip. 7: I personally did not, but I’m sure that’s a minority view. No reference was made in the printed materials or in the lectures to the abundance of relevant and related materials available on the web for study. 8: Worth the tuition. I’m glad I read Cave before the session. It probably should be required rather than optional. 9: Yes. Make sure you do the advance reading, be prepared to be attentive and to ask questions. Overall, the teaching quality and the items used to illustrate the texts were both excellent and very well worth the time and money. 10: The course was certainly worth the RBS tuition. However, since I have to pay Palmer School tuition in addition, I would have appreciated more opportunity to work on my project and to meet with EH and TB for some consultation. 11: I would highly recommend this class to anyone wishing to gain an historical context for the development of the book from 1850 to the present.

Number of respondents: 11


Leave                       Tuition                    Housing                   Travel

Institution                 Institution                 Institution                 Institution

gave me leave            paid tuition               paid housing              paid travel

36%                            27%                            9%                              18%

I took vaca-                I paid tui-                  I paid for my              I paid my own

tion time                    tion myself                 own housing              travel

0%                              54%                            18%                            27%

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

54%                            0%                              72%                            54%

There were 3 full-time students (27%); 1 general librarian with some rare book duties (9%); 1 teacher/professor (9%); 1 archivist/manuscript librarian (9%); 1 antiquarian bookseller (9%); 1 rare book librarian (9%); and 3 students with “other” occupations ( 27%): “part-time student who is also self-employed part-time”; “book collector”; and “manager of a rare book, archival and manuscript repository”.