Deborah J. Leslie

L-30: Rare Book Cataloguing
5-9 June 2006


1)   How useful were the pre-course readings?

1: The readings were excellent for helping to prepare for some complex, heavily detail-oriented class material. 2: Even though I didn’t understand everything I read before the class, I would have been lost if I hadn’t done the readings beforehand. 4: Extremely helpful. 5: They prepared me for class discussions and provided some assistance with complex concepts. 6: Pre-course readings were excellent and covered everything discussed in class. Many were made much clearer during class discussions. 7: Completing and understanding pre-course readings were a critical component for the student’s success in the course. 8: Read them all! Very helpful and gave me a good foundation for the week’s academic adventure. 9: The pre-course readings were extremely useful, particularly because I don’t work with rare books yet. 10: The pre-course readings were relevant and useful. 11: Very useful. The course was definitely aided by us having done some preparation in advance. 12: It would have been impossible to absorb all the information in the course without having the background information from the pre-course readings.


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: I would even have enjoyed more, but what we received was well thought out and cogent reference material. 2: Useful -- yes. I’m sure I’ll be referring to this material a lot when I get back to work. 3: Yes, the materials were appropriate and I will refer to them often. 4: Yes. The tips and charts in our green workbook are really great. I’ll probably use that workbook at my desk when I get back. 5: I am grateful for all the examples and practice exercises, as well as the answer keys. I will definitely use these tools in the future. 6: Course materials were all very useful and will be extremely helpful in the course of my job. 7: Yes, DJL’s charts and workbook information clarified murky concepts and will definitely be relevant for future cataloguing records. 8: Yes. I’ve written lots of notes and hope to use them when I return home. 9: I definitely think that all the materials that were distributed were appropriate and will certainly be consulted when I begin cataloguing rare books. 10: We have been given wonderful reference sources. 11: Yes, very much. 12: The workbook distributed in class of examples was very helpful and will be useful for reinforcing what I learned in the course when I go back to work.


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: Understanding a)What rare book cataloguers consider vital for a record; and b) how hand-press books were constructed will be vital as I undertake my new collection duties. The pace was brisk, but not overly so. 2: Of greatest relevance to me was learning how to do DCRM(B) description in cataloguing records. 3: For me, all aspects of the course were of great interest and relevant. Some aspects were new, but I know the information will be useful to me in the future. 4: For me, it was going over the new draft of the rare book cataloguing rules, DCRM(B) -- to go through these with someone who has been part of the drafting process was an invaluable learning experience. Also, format and collation have been demystified for me. I think the intellectual level was just right. I felt challenged, but not overwhelmed. 5: Collation was a major concept I needed to have explained. I am glad this course spent a lot of time with collation exercises. 6: Pre-cataloguing decisions and content of the DCRBM were of the greatest relevance, as were the additional insights DJL could add through her work on the DCRBM. The intellectual level of the course was perfect. 7: Learning about bookbinding, papermaking, and collating formulas were essential building blocks for creating thorough cataloguing records. 8: The opportunity to see different aspects and variations of rule interpretations. 9: I found the transcription exercise the most interesting and the most relevant. 10: The cataloging practice was useful as if allowed us to see various solutions to the problems at hand. 11: It was all very relevant, and at just the appropriate level. Challenging and illuminating, without being baffling. 12: The in-class exercises and homework greatly helped to clarify certain concepts from the reading (i.e. the folding exercises).


4)   If your course had field trips (including visits to the Dome Room, the McGregor Room, the hand printing presses in the Stettinius Gallery, the Etext Center, UVa’s Albert and Shirley Small Library, RBS’s Lower Tibet, &c.), were they effective?

1: Yes. 2: Yes, it was very interesting. 3: The time was well spent. Would have liked a tour of the facility. 4: Yes, the examples we saw there made the concepts we had discussed more concrete. 5: Yes, our field trip was well organized and a valuable part of the class. 6: The trip to Special Collections was very helpful and demonstrated new concepts. Definitely time well-spent. 7: Yes, the field trip to UVA Special Collections was relevant and useful. 8: Very well spent! What a treat to see different impressions/issues/editions of a title. A splendid opportunity to clarify questions. 9: Definitely. 10: Yes, well-spent. 11: Yes, very much. 12: Yes, it was very helpful for understanding terminology that we learned in class.


5)   What did you like best about the course?

1: DJL is a super teacher, and we are all lucky to have studied with her! She should receive extra danger pay for putting up with all my questions, and cheerfully, too! 2: Being able to hear what an expert rare book cataloguer would decide to do with specific cataloguing problems. I liked the informal way the class was run and I liked that there was a lot of discussion, and that the instructor encouraged us to ask questions. 3: The exercises and lecture, particularly. 4: This was a congenial group, all very interested in the topic and the instructor maintained an excellent balance of class activities: lecture, practice, observation, and discussion. Learning how to figure out the format of a book was my favorite subject. 5: I liked the amount of practice allotted to our class time. I doubt I would have learned as much if this class were mostly lectures. 6: Being able to ask questions in the classroom as well as the small class size. 7: The instructor’s in-depth knowledge about rare book cataloguing, history, and current policies was breathtaking. It was a pleasure to study with the very best. In addition, it was rewarding to see a growth in skills and knowledge in just a few days. 8: Intensive, engaging and diligent -- the week was an immersive opportunity to focus on rare book cataloguing. Resources to assist us were readily at hand. Also being part of a larger group (RBS) helped strengthen my interest in other aspects of this field. 9: The course was very well planned. I feel that I learned an awful lot in a relatively short time. 10: The best part was the camaraderie. 11: Hard to say. It was all interesting and very helpful and relevant. 12: The hands-on exercises.


6)   How could the course have been improved?

1: I felt the course was fab, but two suggestions -- the chairs in our classroom were somewhat uncomfortable for the “larger” amongst us (those arms coming down so far in front dig into one’s legs), and also the first day we tramped off to Clemons from the RBS suite, no one was offered an elevator at any point. Since many stairs were traversed, those amongst us with malfunctioning legs, hips, &c. were sadly taxed. A simple announcement before starting out would have been fine to avert that tragedy. 2: The temperature in the room could have been regulated a bit better. When we were doing the format exercise, it would have been better if some of the books were set up on the work tables. It was pretty crowded. 3: Perhaps more time allotted to cover more material. 4: Looking at each other’s transcriptions and cataloging via the ELMO was much more effective that listening to a classmate read theirs aloud. I would recommend more of that. 5: Maybe a short recap by the instructor after every session would help. One student in the class would do this a couple of times each day to clarify difficult concepts. 6: The only addition I would request is that the cataloguing students should be asked to copy and bring the AACRZ Appendix on capitalization, as this came up in class quite often. 7: Be sure to hold class in a temperature-controlled room 8: Balance of lecture and hands-on activities were helpful. Changes that I would make were more of an environmental nature -- heating/cooling and use of technology. 9: I would have liked it if the solutions to the transcription exercises could have been available while we were discussing the homework. I sometimes wasn’t sure if I had understood everything correctly. 10: It would be nice to see sunlight while in class. 11: ? 12: I wish we had more time in discussion of the notes. I also think it would have helped earlier in the week to show the written exercises up on the screen as we were discussing them. That helped at the end of the week.


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?

 4: I think the classroom needs more space for the instructor to store these materials -- shelves or a book truck would be helpful. Two projectors and screens would be great, too, but that’s more difficult to get. 5: The instructor provided optimum conditions for handling all materials. 6: Materials were well-protected, and DJL made certain that the students knew the appropriate way of treating materials. 8: Class size (12) was about right. Wondered if we could have a larger classroom. 9: Great care was taken to handle the rare materials appropriately. 11: ?


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

1: Yes. 2: Yes, both were interesting. 3: The Monday night lecture was interesting. 4: The lectures were really excellent and the subject matter enriched the topics covered in class. 5: I enjoyed the Monday night lecture with Michael Winship. It was interesting to learn what bibliographers do and the lecture was interactive. 6: Definitely. It’s helpful to hear other instructor/guests’ perspectives on issues that may have come up in class -- both lectures added another dimension to what we learned during the week. 7: Yes, the program added another dimension to the course. 8: The lectures were wonderful. What a great way to hear an expert presentation! 9: Yes! I particularly enjoyed the lecture on bindings. 10: Both lectures were intriguing. 11: I found the Sunday night one a bit much, after the chaos of the day, and meeting all the new people. Felt like overload by then. The Monday one was good. 12: Yes, the lecture by Michael Winship was very interesting to see more about how descriptive bibliographers work. I use them as reference sources. I liked the presentations by the bookbinders more for personal interest.

9) If you attended evening activities, was the time profitably spent?

1: Yes. 2: I attended part of Video Night. It was time well spent, but where were the snacks? 3: The course for me was worthwhile. 4: Video Night was fun and also instructive. The book binding film was particularly good; again, this enriched my understanding of the construction of early books discussed in class. 5: The films shown on Wednesday were amazing. They were a great help in visualizing what the class discussed earlier in the day. 6: Video Night was actually very helpful. Again, the videos reinforced what had been taught in class and filled in the cracks. 8: They were great! I had only planned on staying for the first video, but quickly found myself drawn into a world of lettering, moveable type, and the black plague! 9: The film on bindings illustrated very nicely what we had discussed in class that same day. 11: N/A. 12: The bookbinding video was of better quality than the one we saw in class.


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


1: OH YES! I feel totally confident that now I can at least take a stab at cataloguing alone, without panic. 2: Yes, absolutely. If I can finagle a way to take another course, I’ll be back if you’ll let me in! 3: 4: The readings are essential; I’m glad I was able to complete them beforehand. I didn’t bring in examples of cataloging problems I’ve run into in the past but wish I had done so -- I would recommend that. 5: This course was definitely worth the time and money. Future students: Do the advance reading and take lots of notes in class! 6: The course is definitely worth the money! I learned far more than I expected and not just about rare book cataloguing. DJL is an excellent teacher and her enthusiasm kept me motivated! My advice to future students is to take in as many RBS activities as you can, even if you’re tired, as you’ll learn something from every event. 7: Yes, the course was valuable. 8: Valuable class that will assist me in my professional responsibilities. More than that -- this class reminded me that I need to continually challenge myself and take these precious opportunities for additional education. How wonderful that a group of passionate people gather to study, describe, and understand the book! 9: Most definitely. 10: Rare Book School is an experience that would be impossible to regret. 11: I definitely got my money’s worth. I feel much more confident in my skills as a rare book cataloguer. I would recommend it to anyone. 12: Yes! This definitely cleared up areas in the rules I was confused about. It was also beneficial to learn from other members of class about different problems with other types of material.


Number of respondents: 12




Leave                       Tuition                    Housing                   Travel


Institution                 Institution                 Institution                 Institution

gave me leave            paid tuition               paid housing              paid travel


92%                            67%                            58%                            58%



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

tion time                    tion myself                 own housing              travel


0%                              0%                              33%                            33%



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              scholarship                home


8%                              33%                            8%                              0%




There were 5 rare book librarians (42%), 6 general librarians with some rare book duties (50%), and one general librarian without rare book duties (8%).