Lucious Edwards & Michael Plunkett

C-75: Developing Collections of African-American Materials
12-16 June 2006


1)   How useful were the pre-course readings?

1: The reading list was interesting and relevant for the course. I would’ve liked to have had more discussion of the materials, specifically, rather than a general discussion of the field of archival development. 2: The pre-course readings were useful. These were a list of perhaps a dozen readings and we were asked to read three. I would suggest in the future that some of the readings be required and others optional. This will ensure that everyone will at least have read some of the same readings. 3: Very useful background readings which related to class discussions, but where not the focus of class discussions. 5: Very helpful. Set the stage and made discussion fruitful. 6: Very useful. I enjoyed the reading material. 7: The readings were very helpful -- I do not work in collection development, nor does my job entail acquiring materials. Therefore, the individuals mentioned in the readings were new to me, and they gave useful background information. 8: Most helpful. I read five of the items.


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: See above comments. Yes, I do plan to use the reading material (along with class notes) in the future. 2: I really appreciate the additional readings distributed in class and look forward to reading them more fully. 3: Yes, there was a short syllabus available on the first day and a longer, more detailed one available by email. 4-6: Yes. 7: EXTREMELY USEFUL! I can’t wait to make use of the bibliography that was passed out in class. 8: Yes.


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 historical background of archival collections (and collectors) given in the class will be useful for current and future research projects. In fact, this course content may affect my research methodology in general. 3: The most useful aspect was learning about practices and collecting activities at other institutions. 4: The discussion of collection development policies. Future trends in African-American collecting. 5: The discussion regarding what others were doing and the challenges in the profession. It was appropriate because of the mixture of student backgrounds. 6: The history of black book collectors and the identification of noteworthy texts in black culture was valuable. I think the intellectual level of the course was appropriate. 7: Information on early African-American historians -- most of which I was unfamiliar with. 8: Virginia resources.


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, the tours of archival facilities were great. 2: Yes. It was very important to see the facilities and collections at VSU. It added a dimension to the course that would not have been possible without the visit. 3: Yes, we had a tour of UVa Special Collections and a field trip to VSU. 4: Yes, the tours were great. 5: Yes. 6: Our field trip provided a much-needed contrast between a wealthy institution and one with less financial support. 7: I enjoyed the trip to Special Collections and especially enjoyed the visit to Virginia State 8: Yes.


5)   What did you like best about the course?

1: I enjoyed viewing primary sources from UVa’s Special Collections (Rare Books) the most. I was also glad to have access to the University’s research catalogs. 2: I liked the instructors’ genuine interest and passion about the subject matter. I liked how they engaged the students and encouraged participation and discussion. 3: The schedule was flexible enough to accommodate the interests of individual members of the class. 4: Interaction with other professionals. The most fun course I have ever taken. All were very dedicated to the subject matter. 5: The discussion of readings. 6: The instructors. It was clear they had a mutual respect for one another. The students were also a good mix. 7: The depth of knowledge that both instructors have. Honestly -- there wasn’t a part of the course I didn’t enjoy! 8: The respectful and warm relationship between MP and LC. Their availability to us. Their passion for the course. The exchange with colleagues at vastly different institutions -- with same issues, concerns, and problems.


6)   How could the course have been improved?

1: More critical discussion of reading materials and more time for working with primary sources. (Some was given, but since I enjoyed this the most, I would love more time.) 2: We had two guest speakers and I enjoyed the content of their presentations, but it would have been nice to hear from other people working with African-American materials from outside of Virginia. For example, Diana Lachatene at the Schomburg Center. It would have also been good to talk about other African American special collections or at least make people aware of them, much as the Center for Black Music Research in Chicago, the Film Archive & Music Collection at Indiana, and even some of the new collections developing at public libraries. Also, I t would have been useful to have discussions about what is not being collected or areas that repositories could or should focus on. 3: I would have enjoyed more time to survey the collections of American materials at other institutions around the country. 4: As someone who is not from the South or Virginia, I felt at times that the content was unbalanced in favor of Southern materials. 5: A little more structured. A solid how-to lecture, or bulleted history of situations in addition to discussions. 6: More emphasis on Northern museums and collections. 8: Shorter break times.


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: None. The Special Collections staff and class instructors handled the materials appropriately. 4: No problems. 5: Materials for this particular class were not very good. RBS should simply use what UVa offers -- most of what RBS purchased were reprints and not authentic or relevant. 6: N/A. 7: The materials were handled correctly. 8: None.


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

1: Sunday was rather uninteresting and the “dinner” was really disappointing. The first day schedule (Sunday) was too much considering the traveling students had done. 2: The Sunday gathering is a great opportunity to meet people and get oriented to RBS, especially for first-timers. However, I would suggest it not be called a dinner unless you plan to provide a more substantive meal. As someone who traveled most of Sunday and had not eaten since breakfast, I arrived fully expecting a hot meal, especially since guests were welcome for $12.00. In the future you should do on of the following: 1) provide a “real” dinner. 2) If not possible to provide a hot meal, make it clear in the preliminary materials students receive that the meal will consist of cold salads so they can plan accordingly. 3) Don’t provide a meal at all. Just reception food. That way, Sunday evening could be a shorter event, with just the reception and Terry’s lecture. 3: The Sunday night lecture was useful, but did not introduce information that was not covered in the Introductory Booklets. 4: The lecture was great. The dinner needs improvement, as many travelers need a more substantial meal than pasta salads. 5: No. Sunday evening was very disappointing. After a long day of travel, the food was not good or fulfilling, and the lecture was quite dry and gave information that was on the website. 6: Sunday’s meal needs to be more substantial. Several of us traveled a great distance and hadn’t had a meal since the morning. Rather than having two receptions of Sunday, how about some real food. I quite enjoyed Monday’s lecture on Jane Eyre. 7: N/A. 8: Sunday night’s lecture provided useful information about RBS history. Would like for all instructors and staff to be introduced.

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

1: N/A. 3: Yes. 4: The videos were excellent. Should have more videos appropriate to classes being taught in a given week. 5: No, not relevant to the course I took. Perhaps something more general on book preservation or light-hearted would have been better. 6-8: N/A.


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

1: The day schedule was fine. However, more time should be allotted for “study time” or research based on courses. Also, the evening events were optional, but if they were more interesting, perhaps, students would want to attend them more. 3: Yes, I got my money’s worth. I would have appreciated more information about the scope of the food service provided. I had greater expectations for the Sunday dinner and much of the breakfast food was not appropriate to my diet. 4: Yes, I am most happy with the course. In the future, it should be taught in two parts: 1-- passage -- 1890 The South (at UVa). II -- 1900 -- present (in New York at the Schomburg or Columbia). 5: Yes. The days are long and at times overwhelming, so evening activities should be light and fun or not at all. The food was less than desirable. No variety. No pastry. The application process and course description and summary of activities and attire is not clear. Tell people casual clothes conducive to walking. Tell people light refreshments, not dinner or $12 for a guest -- that implies a sit-down hot food meal. Tell people clearly the course is five days with homework, more than a seminar, with materials provided except for pen and paper. Provide bottled water. Show them where campus cafeteria is; where you can get a meal for breakfast. Have people present, summarize classes, and teachers introduce themselves to the entire group the first and last days. The days begin early and run long -- breaks were nice but often felt rushed or not appealing. Overall, I enjoyed RBS and plan to return. I will adapt to the structure it presents because I found the information useful and met colleagues that I can have lasting and beneficial relationships with. 6: I hope this course will be offered on a consistent basis. 7: I would encourage anyone to take this course! I hope it’s not another ten years before this course is offered again! 8: Yes. Please offer this course with the same instructors. Publicize it on listservs of AFAS-L, BCALA-L, VA-HIST. The readings added to the packet upon arrival were useful.

Number of respondents: 8


Leave                       Tuition                    Housing                   Travel

Institution                 Institution                 Institution                 Institution

gave me leave            paid tuition               paid housing              paid travel

88%                            56%                            63%                            63%

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

tion time                    tion myself                 own housing              travel

0%                              6%                              25%                            25%

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

13%                            38%                            13%                            13%

There were two rare book librarians (25%), one archivist/manuscript librarian (13%), one general librarian with some rare book duties (13%), one general librarian without rare book duties (13%), one professor, one special collections librarian (13%), and one curator of printed material (13%).