G-10 Introduction to Descriptive Bibliography
24-28 July 2006
Christopher Adams, Gerald Cloud, Haven Hawley, Shef Rogers, Eileen Smith
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, as a teaching tool?
1: I watched the videotape in a public library because it was too expensive to buy and found it rather basic, but probably well suited to the level of most entering students. All other pre-course readings were essential. 2: Pre-course readings were very helpful. I did not buy the video but probably should have. That said, a difficulty I’d had understanding format was greatly diminished by the paper-folding exercises in the Vocabulary museum. 3: The pre-course readings are essential, particularly the recommended chapters of Bowers. I found the recommended chapter of Gaskell, as well as his chapters on imposition and printing, helpful. I wish I hadn’t bothered with Carter -- seems extraneous. The main thing is to read and understand (as best you can) Bowers, which is dense and slow-going. It will make more sense once you get here! 4: The pre-course readings and other materials were absolutely essential and indispensable. The vast amount of material covered by that reading could not be taught within the allotted class time. It would be virtually impossible to understand, much less absorb, the bulk of what was done in the class, homework assignments, and labs, without thorough preparation. 5: The pre-course readings proved invaluable to me. Without the insight from Bowers and Gaskell, I could not have begun to appreciate the beauty of descriptive bibliography and its relevance for my field. The Anatomy of a Book: Format is excellent as an introduction, and I would definitely use it in a graduate English class dealing with bibliography. 6: Pre-course readings were absolutely essential. Videotape was useful as were the sample sheets providing format examples. 7: More emphasis on Gaskell’s imposition schemes would have helped me prepare by practice visualizing the sheet possibilities behind each artifact, but yes, PG and FB were very valuable. The DVD was quite helpful, but I believe the older demonstration of typecasting, printing, etc may be useful in updating insight of what we learned in class and by participating in the hand press exhibition. 8: All useful. But I would not have purchased a copy of Marks in Books via internet from Britain had I realized it would be here in profusion and would be used hardly at all. 9: I liked the videotape a great deal; in some ways, it was the best of the introductions to what we did. I found Gaskell endlessly useful and fascinating. Some of Carter was useful to my week, but not as much as its top priority on the advanced reading list would seem to suggest. Bowers is very difficult, I think, because it is so abstract. I argue that the preparatory reading was crucial to my enjoying the class and getting so much from it. I would suggest, though, that Bowers is so much more comprehensible and useful if you’re reviewing him actively and using him throughout the week. I wouldn’t have been so nervous had I known that. 10: The pre-course readings -- all of them -- were essential, as was the DVD. Though I couldn’t lay my hands on the Stoddard, which was out of print (and I had to work during the hours I could have read it at my college’s rare books library!) Though this was not much of a problem in the end. 11: The pre-course readings were very useful. I had not had the time to go over the video or facsimiles, since I focused on completing all the other readings in time. 12: Bowers was unintelligible to me prior to this course. I can now begin to grasp the meaning. TB’s essay was very helpful in the pre-course readings and I did find the DVD useful. 13: Totally necessary. The videotape was a little long for what it covered. 14: I didn’t receive the videotape in time, but the readings were very helpful. They were not kidding -- you need to read these (maybe even twice) before you come. The more I read, the more clicked when I started looking at actual books. 15: All the reading as essential to the course content. Reading all of Gaskell and Bowers should be required and not just suggested. I had already seen the DVD though I did not realize this before I watched it again, so I feel that I wasted $75. I was already familiar with the concept of format, and watching the video again did not help me. 16: They were extremely useful. It would have been very difficult to follow instruction and homework without those previous readings. 17: Readings were all useful, but really came into focus once I saw the video and got to fold paper myself. Excellent pre-course combination. 18: The pre-course readings were very useful, although they border on gibberish until one actually has a book in hand to which to apply them. Read them. For Bowers, read while consuming caffeine; this book is the best sleep aid ever. 19: Readings were vital. 20: Very helpful; I read the full books. I think less so if I hadn’t had time. TB’s essay was a good “way in” to Bowers, so taking the plunge wasn’t quite as cold as it might have been. 21: The readings are extremely useful. The video is a good place to start, then Gaskell and Bowers. The required Bowers bits really form the core of the course. No need to panic if you can’t get through all the rest of the book. 22: The pre-course readings were very effective as teaching tools, but I would recommend that future students begin by watching the video, followed by a reading of the TB article on collational formulas. The Bowers text is, of course, the “Bible”, and should be read very carefully. 23: Bowers was essential, and TB’s article was a great orientation. Gaskell, Carter, and the DVD were also extremely worthwhile. Stoddard did not seem necessary. 24: The pre-course readings were crucial. I doubt that I could have completed the course successfully without having read (or at least perused) Bowers and Gaskell. 25: The readings were good but not easily comprehended without examples and prior instruction. The video was very useful.
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: Unqualified YES. 2: Yes, I expect to use the museums material and the exit reading list a great deal in the future. 3: The course syllabus helped keep me oriented. The exit reading list is practically worth the price of admission alone, as it is often difficult to know which out-of-print book is the classic on which aspect of printing. 4: Very useful, particularly the exit reading list, as well as the museums book summing up the exhibits. 5: Undoubtedly, the exit reading list as well as handouts will be valuable to me as I continue in my bibliographical studies. Similarly, I intend to make these materials available to fellow bibliographers. 6: The exit reading list, as well as other titles mentioned in lectures and labs will be productively exploited long after this class. 7: Yes, but you should revisit the amount of time allowed for all parts of the course to see whether more practical demonstrative examples in class might help “visual learners” to see how it was done. But if you are teaching a craft in a series of crafts, along with the learned study of its prevalence, teaches the analysis in the preference of the craft tools (pen, composing table, binding) insight help. 8: Yes, indeed. 9: YES. Thank you. My future students thank you. 10: Yes. Perhaps a list of the articles mentioned in class would have been useful as well. 11: They were extremely useful, and I will look into obtaining through ILL the books on the bibliography and reading them as time permits. The bibliography will stimulate quite a bit of thought and research! 12: Course syllabus and exit reading list were and will be helpful. 13: Probably the best part of this course. The materials given will be consulted. 14: Yes, the materials are going to support a lot of further investigation. 15: Absolutely. They will go on my reference shelf at home. 16: Yes, they were and will be essential for my work, including teaching and research projects. 17: Yes. The exit list, especially exceeded all my expectations. 18: Absolutely. While I’m not sure that I’d read any of the exit list materials cover to cover, the exit list will make for a great reference list for specific issues. 19: Yes! 20: The last day’s lecture, with its history of the battle between Bowers, DFM, and Gaskell all in the thunderdome-like environment of bibliographical professional journals should be written as an article. These debates really help to understand the field. Hate to make work for RN, but it would really help. 21: Absolutely. And the course gets you excited to learn more from the materials and explore the exit reading list. 22: The exit reading list is a wonderful “parting gift” from RBS and I plan to revisit the list for many years to come. 23: Yes, all have been or will be useful. In addition to the exit reading list, I’d also like a list of the instructors’ favorite textual analyses that make great use of descriptive bibliography. 24: Yes, very useful. 25: These were useful and will be especially useful as references after class. The extensive reading list is appreciated. More “do’s and don’ts” of collation would have been 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: The course taught me the skill it promised to teach. The core -- writing collation formulas -- was fleshed out nicely by lectures and museums, but I’d rank the course content in the following descending order of importance: 1) Homework and labs, 2) museums, 3) lectures. Lectures tended to have a scattered, ad-libbed feel. 2: The intellectual level of the course was entirely appropriate. All of the context was relevant in ways I could not have anticipated! 3: The heart of the course is the homework and the labs, which really gets you into the books. I found that the advance readings and the museums gave me a lot of general printing knowledge and history. Intellectual level is challenging, but it needs to be. 4: Analysis of a book as an object and the construction of description of such analysis. I am also very interested in recent trends in bibliographical studies, particularly the quantitative approach to the history of printing. 5: My greatest source of interest is in folios so I greatly appreciated the day-to-day focus on these objects in terms of providing an opportunity to experiment with formal and collation. Undoubtedly, the intellectual dialogue has caused me to expand my thesis research. 6: Intellectual level was appropriate. Exposure to materials in homework was very helpful, especially the variety of material, since Bowers tends to be Anglo-centric it was useful to have to apply his method to materials other than English drama. Helpful to learn strategies for problems Bowers doesn’t cover. Index to Bowers was great! Please expand it! 7: Contact with my fellow students and with the lab instructor was extremely helpful. Perhaps it’s a learning styles issue. Also, the “museums” were extremely useful and MM was great help, though the sheer number of exhibits always fought with one’s focus in keep concepts and practices. 8: Understanding the established formula/description better; getting a better grip on the smaller formats. Museums were the greatest! And yes, the level was appropriate. 9: I loved the homework and labs. Those were the places where I learned the most. I would even be in favor of getting a couple more books in there somewhere (but it is possible that I am not just a biblio maniac but also a masochist). 10: I felt that I got a lot out of the homework and labs. These gave me the hands-on experience that added depth to the lectures and museums. I think the lectures on vocabulary, paper, and printing were most useful to me. Much more so than the more intensely scholarly aspects covered later in the week. 11: The course was extremely relevant since I am a rare book librarian, and descriptive bibliography is an essential tool in my field. I know that on Monday I will apply it immediately to the description of several rare book gifts sitting on my desk. The intellectual level was definitely appropriate. 12: I began to grasp what I might be able to do for a project that I am considering. 13: Basic skills of providing a format for a given book. Gives you a better understanding of how a book is (or was) made. Intellectual level was appropriate. 14: I believe the way of looking at and interacting with a book on a completely new level has added to my understanding of what the history of the book is (or can be). The level of the class was great, very absorbing and engaging. 15: All of it, really. 16: The lab and museum sessions were the core of the course. Yes, the intellectual level was appropriate. 17: Intellectual level was appropriate. I found all aspects to be interesting and relevant. DG and RN make an effective (and entertaining!) teaching team. 18: Detailed attention to collational formulas and signing statements; as a rare books cataloguer, I face these daily. The intellectual level of the course was certainly appropriate. It was intense, but we’re all intelligent people. 19: Learning collations were the most immediately useful. Intellectual level was high. Please keep it that way. 20: I am a user. The first museum, with its focus on examples and their bibliographic entries was very helpful. Before this class, bibliographies were gobbledygook as far as I was concerned. Now I can read them, and, I hope, incorporate them into my research. 21: All of it. The technical aspects (homework and lab) got us “doing work,” and the subject-based lectures and museums gave context, history, and examples. Actually, the museums were just about perfect. 22: I now feel confident in my ability to decipher a reasonably complex collational formula, which is an essential component of my job. 23: Learning about the connections between the textual product and the way it was produced was very helpful, I particularly enjoyed learning about typesetting, quire compilation, and the many tasks that went on in the printer’s shop. 24: I was most interested in those aspects of the course that applied to rare book cataloguing. Some of the more esoteric aspects of bibliographical description (as a discipline) were a bit out of my line. 25: The level was appropriate. Having the measuring tape, loup, and flashlight was good. The paper samples were good for the paper lecture. More samples as trial demonstrations would have added to other lectures.
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: They contributed a vast amount. I thought the [examples of descriptive] bibliography museum might be moved to a day earlier in the week, and to a slot open until 7:00 since it was particularly useful and reading-intensive. The printing museum, though fun, was quicker to get through. Loved the paper museum. Found the museum concept superb in the context of this course. A nice rhythm of types of learning. 2: The museums are fantastic. I’m overwhelmed by the volume and range of resources made available to “picking up and holding” during this course. My only misgiving is not having had enough time with them, given that homework always occupied the evenings. (I am aware, however, that RBS is not capable of adding hours to a day!) 3: The museums and catalogs were exceptional -- an incredible range of teaching tools. I especially enjoyed the “vocabulary” and “printing” ones. MM was very helpful. 4: The museums were immensely helpful by providing rich illustrative background and hands-on experience with a great variety of materials. Hats off to their creator for all the hard work and careful thought that went into their realization. 5: The desbib museums provided excellent opportunities to visualize the impact of descriptive bibliography while also stimulating my thinking on the social construction of the book. My only regret in this respect is that I could not devote more time to the desbib museums because I was preoccupied with homework. 6: Museums were excellent and complemented lectures; having the museum catalog as an aide-memoire for future reference is wonderful. Saved time it would otherwise have required to take notes. 7: Ah, got ahead of you. Focus them more on a set of examples that are central to practice, like imposition schemes beyond quarto and octavo, and we will be able to get a more coherent sense of it. 8: Can’t say enough about the value of the museums. Could have used more time on the first one. The catalog is a fantastic take-away. 9: I think that it was so much fun to explore all the different materials that make books. To get to touch them and smell them, etc, etc. I sometimes was too tired by 3:30 to get as much from them as I’d have liked. I wonder whether the lectures in the afternoon could have been a bit more short and concise, so as to allow a longer amount of downtime before museum? Perhaps some adjustment like that (perhaps a slightly longer lunch?) would help cut down mid-afternoon fatigue. And thanks for the extensive booklet! 10: The first three museums were extremely useful in allowing me to deepen my understanding of desbib by handling objects involved in book production -- so those were great. I was less excited about the fourth [examples] museum. I didn’t think the topic was well served by the presentation. Perhaps is could become a lecture instead? 11: The museums were fabulous. I wish there had been more time to really enjoy them. I was so buried in homework that I did not have time to go back to the museums in the evenings. 12: The museums are brilliant, remarkable, and very helpful. However, there is simply not enough time to peruse them as one should, given that I spent six or seven hours total on each “homework”. 13: The museums were impressive: example upon example of what we are dealing with. Wish they could have been available into the evening, rather just one and a half hours each day. 14: These were terrific! Great fun and good stories and a place to come in contact with more actual things. It further clarified what we were learning and there were fascinating stories told at each station. 15: The museums were fantastic. Being able to work at my own pace helped so much. I could skip over concepts with which I was already familiar and focus on less familiar ones. The collections were very impressive, and handling these objects really helps drive the vocabulary, etc home. 16: They were an essential continuation or complement to what we had done in the lab and homework sessions. I wish I would have had more time to spend there. 17: The museums were wonderful and helpful, especially getting to look at books of various formats and paper examples. I felt the museums also helped bring the readings into perspective, much as the video did. 18: I would rather have museums after a homework period; while they were all very interesting, I couldn’t concentrate on the exhibit for thinking about homework. 19: The museums were important in helping me to visualize the printing process. I wish there was more time to spend with the museums, but don’t see how that would be possible in a one week course. 20: I would have liked a museum on pagination. The ones we got were first rate. Clearly a lot of thinking and preparation has gone into them. Looking at the catalogue in advance helped me to know which things I’d most like to see, especially on day four. 21: Museums were creative, organized, well-explained. The only problem was (like homework) NOT ENOUGH TIME, especially with the bibliographies (you kind of get lost in them for too long). The physical, tangible object method is great. 22: I was absolutely delighted with the desbib museums, and I wish that I could have spent many additional hours fondling the specimens. 23: The museums were great. I think they should be termed “please touch museums” because the opportunity to handle page sheets, blocks of type, etc was their greatest attribute. 24: I found the museums to be immensely enjoyable, both for the tactile experience (which you never get in a “real” museum) and for the discussions with the lab instructors. 25: The museums were very helpful and very well arranged. I think that taking some museum stuff and incorporating it into the lectures would add to the lecture usefulness.
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?
Christopher Adams: 10: These were just great, especially because of the small size of the individual labs. They were small enough so that each person had the time, and it seemed, level of comfort, to ask questions and have ambiguities clarified. And my lab instructor was very knowledgeable and prepared. 21: The labs were fine. CA tried to reassure us, even admitted having originally “made the same mistake” at times. (Hm! I doubt he did!) Only improvement could be occasionally more “leading” us to the right answer instead of “telling” us. Gerald Cloud: 2: For me, the labs were extremely successful. GC is a knowledgeable and a very effective instructor. He responded to requests outside the normal scope of the labs and followed-up when questions arose. 12: The labs were well done. GC is a good teacher and had a pleasant way of guiding us to the questions and of revealing errors without making one feel too ignorant! 15: they were great. I was well matched in my cohort and my instructor was knowledgeable. 22: The labs were extremely helpful. Our lab instructor was very patient, calm, and knowledgeable. The labs could have been improved if we had more time to examine all of the books. Please congratulate GC on a job well done; he took the time to ensure that his students were satisfied with their progress. Haven Hawley: 3: Our lab instructor, Haven Hawley, was terrific. She was very encouraging, and helped lead us to solving problems ourselves. We also benefitted from her specialized knowledge of 19th century printing. 5: I must say that the format and collation labs succeeded in encouraging me to appreciate the complexity of books. Further, my lab instructor has been most helpful in providing helpful advice with regard to the assignments. In addition, she is an excellent communicator, whose love of books is evident. I have no particular recommendations concerning the improvement of labs except to say that perhaps the meeting times could be extended to two hours instead of one and a half. 6: I think the hands-on component with its frustrations, puzzles, mistakes, discoveries is essential. Lab instructor was well-versed in the subject. More time for labs would be the only way to improve upon them. 8: They were too short, but we got better at covering the territory. HH’s knowledge of printing practice is very valuable. I wish we had had more time to mine it. 13: HH is not only very knowledgeable, but very dedicated to her research. That was refreshing -- to have an enthusiastic lab instructor. One criticism : because she is so interested, she didn’t cover all of the books. She spent a lot of time on just a few. 17: Labs were the best part of the class. Our instructor was great, but we were hindered by one student who was having significant difficulties and ended up slowing down the pace for everyone else. Not sure how that situation could have been addressed. Shef Rogers: 7: They pushed me to learn keyword my ability to visualize those imposition schemes. To some extent, though not intentionally, TB’s short chapter in the first recommended reading list seemed to simplify the range of available schemes. You are teaching a species of mechanical origami, but my mind (this time!) seemed to stop at napkin folding. 9: WONDERFUL! I loved working with SR, who maintained exactly the right balance of criticism and encouragement throughout the week. I feel that I learned an immense amount with his help, and his manner was always exceptionally open and generous, no matter what was going on in our lab. Working through the books was hands down the most important part of this course. I loved learning this stuff in a hands-on way. 16: He was extremely effective in addressing the main difficulties of the format-collation description, including very useful information about what those formulae suggest to know about printing practices and other historical aspects. 18: The labs were an essential portion of this; analysis of the (long!) work we had done was necessary, and much that was not clear in the doing was made so. 20: SR’s instruction was first rate. We gave him a list of instructions for improvement but none were about the teaching we received. I’m so grateful for what I’ve learned this week. 23: These were quite successful. SR was a clear, affable, and patient lab instructor. Eileen Smith: 1: The labs were the key to the course, as all say. ES was our link to the detailed level of descriptive bibliography, and she did not disappoint. No improvement possible in ES -- she always understood and answered our questions, and she worked hard to provide us with extra examples of odd preliminaries. 11: The labs where the small group and format really generated some fabulous discussions! I learned so much in the labs and in the course as a whole. It all fit together so well. The museums were also fabulous. I saw some really amazing examples of paper, printing format, and book history that really illuminated what we had been learning. 14: She was excellent. The only improvement might, perhaps, have been more time so we could cover each book in the detail we wanted. 19: As I said before, ES was wonderful. No improvement needed. 24: I think I did better than I expected in the labs. My instructor was not only thorough and knowledgeable, but readily showed her enthusiasm for the subject matter. Did not identify their lab instructor: 4: A very successful way to practice new and rather shaky skills in bibliographic description. The idea of dividing the class into lab groups that shared common professional background reinforced the learning process, making it possible to focus on those aspects of bibliographic description that were in greater danger of being misunderstood against such background. Excellent instructor, too. 25: More time spent in lectures on format and collation would have made this more successful. However, I found the labs very useful and they were a major source of learning. But more practice could have been accomplished if more preparation were done during lecture. The lab instructor was excellent, clear, and well organized.
6) What did you like best about the course?
1: Homework and labs, museums. Also RN, DG, and ES, in their own ways. It was great to get three approaches to the field. 2: The quality and scope of resources made available to us, including the expertise of the instructors. 3: Two things. First, just the depth of knowledge about printing that I gained in such a short time, and second, the feeling of being involved in a scholarly endeavor in such a rich environment. Make that three things -- our lab sessions were very enjoyable. 4: In spite of, as RN put it, its “ferocious reputation”, I found this course very student-friendly, extremely well prepared and organized, and intellectually stimulating. 5: Both the museums and the labs were excellent aspects of the course. Therefore, I must say that I found the museum and the labs much to my liking. 6: Answer sheets for homework, but of course the homework itself and the lab component which allowed careful study of the materials. Exposure to as much material as possible and the opportunity to make mistakes and learn is essential to increasing the student’s comfort level. Provision of suggested future reading to illuminate particular issues also is crucial to developing a facility with desbib. 7: The cheerful drive to haul us, headlong, though not without adequate assistance, at serious intellectual problems which challenged what I had though I knew about “the book”, its production and operation. 8: The incredible richness of resources, both in personnel and materials. 9: I loved homework and lab. Our mornings were so active and intense, and I was really engaged by that. 10: I appreciated its intensity. At the end of every day, I knew without question that I had learned a great deal. Every period had something to recommend it. RN and DG’s lectures were extremely thought-provoking, and made me appreciate what I was doing in the homework. They made desbib exciting. 11: The labs were great for really understanding and analyzing the homework. I enjoyed the discussions, and the mistakes were great learning tools. I will miss being able to discuss the books with the lab instructor when I practice on books in my own library! 12: For me this was an introduction, and I am glad to have learned a bit, but I have a long way to go. I enjoyed the opportunity to hear lectures by our distinguished professors and the excellent work that GC did in lab. 13: This will sound stupid, but the instructors’ cheeriness and patience. Two qualities that really make desbib a little easier to get through. A good attitude is a must with this type of work. DG, in particular, EXCELLENT teacher. Upbeat, easy to understand, etc. 14: It’s hard to pick a single thing. I really liked the format. Just enough lecture, lab, museum, homework and supplemental to keep me very interested. I think the variety of things focused on a particular goal really made a week provide so much more than I expected. 15: The museums and the labs were the most helpful. 16: The lab instructor. 17: Homework and labs. The small group setting gave me chance to grub around in the books and ask as many questions as I wanted. 18: The intellectual rigor. I came expecting an intense week during which I would learn a great deal, and I was not disappointed. Also, RN and DG are fabulous, erudite, entertaining lecturers. 19: No single thing. Lab, lecture, and museum meshed together for a great overall experience. Thanks especially for the great reading list, workbook, and notebook. 20: I learned a completely new skill. I really liked the labs. My group was excellent, and SR was a very good teacher. 21: Museums, help with collations in labs, being made comfortable being wrong. It was less intimidating than I’d been led to expect. 22: The practical aspects of the course -- building a formula and determining format -- are invaluable. I was very pleased that we were invited to handle a wide variety of books. 23: The museums, and the way that the course pre-reading made a lot more sense after a couple of days here. This was definitely worth sacrificing a week of summer vacation for. 24: The opportunity to put theory into practice. The formulas make so much more sense when you’ve got a book in hand. Equally, I enjoyed the wit and style of RN and DG. They made a dense subject (to me) more enjoyable. 25: Discussing the lab work.
7) How could the course as a whole have been improved?
1: Warn us to bring Gaskell. Let Blue Legion begin homework on Monday morning. It is terribly depressing to have a “free period” the first day of RBS. Waiting till after lecture afforded no gain. Hand out outlines for lectures. They seem rambling. Give fuller overview on the uses of desbib. It is assumed that everyone is equally engaged, but there are actually varying degrees of interest and commitment. Remind students of lunchtime “conversation” with TB. My entire legion missed this because of instructors’ oversight. Very upsetting at the time, though RN reconstructed it for me. A more detailed description of the scope of the course work would help us know how to read Bowers. I had no idea coming in how extensive our records would be. Put this in the course description on the website or in the reading list. Perhaps find a way to assign parts of books, the problematic parts, rather than whole books for the final homework set, to cut down on galley slave page counting. Exposure to oddities could be increased this way. 2: Though the lectures were, overall, an excellent preamble/introduction to each day’s museum. I was less satisfied with the organization of the lectures on Wednesday and Thursday, but it’s hard to say what could be improved. It’s clear that RN and DG know their stuff, but I could have used more structure in their talks, more sense of direction and intention. Perhaps an outline or talking points? 3: I thought at points the course was discouraging, because you keep getting more difficult books for homework. So you don’t get the feeling that you are making any progress. An easy quick book on the last night would help with flagging morale. 5: Perhaps the general lectures could have touched more on the particulars of the labs as well as addressing the museums on a deeper level. Even so, I believe that this course is extremely useful as it is. 6: More time examining materials/labs perhaps, but that might stretch course beyond a week. 7: Reading emphasis in time to give a little more to impositions schemes, help with visualization, more paper folding exercises before we have to infer the post-fold, post-cut, post-gatherings, post-chapter state’s ideal manifestation in the unimaginable distant print shop. 8: Have a theater evening: a one-man show with RN playing all the parts in his accents. Perhaps following a book from author through publisher, various printing-house personnel, the bindery, etc. Quick-change costumes. 9: I do think that the lectures were perhaps longer than they needed to be. If they remain 90 minutes long, I’d love for them to become more interactive or to engage students in more active learning. We had some sleepy or sleeping people, even when the material was interesting, and I think that was largely because there wasn’t so much active involvement of any of us in what we were doing. We were simply (though richly) being talked to, and ninety minutes of that, right after lunch, is too much. 10: The classroom space might be reconsidered. One or two days we were distracted by very loud high school children either talking loudly on the open floor nearby or else children running through the space. 11: Oh, I don’t know. It’s a lot of material to cram into one week, but they really did it. I do wish maybe that there had been one more day so we did not have to end up so exhausted. By stretching out the time and slightly shorter hours it might be less exhausting, but I don’t know if that is truly feasible. 12: More time!!! As that is not available, I suggest lunchtime tutorials for those of us who are bibliographically challenged. It took me days to catch on to concepts that the catalogers amongst us understood immediately. I needed help and I could not get it. Why is faculty/staff at homework if they really will not help with questions?! Please tell people to bring Gaskell. I left mine at home as you told me to. Lastly, brilliant faculty, beautiful campus, but lighten up a bit. This week’s work and Bowers himself, need not be so deadly serious! 13: Either more time or less books. I felt very rushed. I wanted to take more time with each book -- that’s the way I work. I never rush. 14: I cannot think of anything that would have made it better. 15: The lectures were poorly structured and did not prepare us well enough for the museums. Anyone without a general knowledge of book history was probably completely lost. (Another reason all of Gaskell should be required reading!) 16: Difficult questions! 17: I understand the need to stagger the legions so not everyone is trying to do lab/lecture at the same time, but having that free period left me at loose ends on the last day. I know there is always something to do but a formally scheduled activity might have been nice. 18: I was part of the legion that had a free period immediately after the introductory lecture, and I felt that it was far too soon for such. I would have put the time to better use had I something to do that was relevant to the class other than reading the museum book. 19: When is RN going to finish his re-write of Bowers? 20: A little more focus on pagination, which is more complicated than there is time for. Six books is a lot. I’m not sure I’d change it, exactly, but homework M-W is very time-consuming. I would’ve been more thorough if I’d had fewer books. 21: Lectures could have a bit more structure (though not too much!) and more time scheduled for questions during them. Museums could use more scheduled time. (When? Six am?!) 22: I could have used more time to complete all of the homework, but I realize that this is difficult to achieve in a one week course. 23: The lectures were sometimes a bit unwieldy. Also, the instructors could give some direction before they set us loose on a task. I realize, however, that this second suggestion may conflict with the course philosophy. 24: My only complaint was the number of books to analyze in each homework assignment. Because I felt I had to “get through” each book, I think I rushed through them just so as to have an answer. If I could have spent more time on each book, I would have felt considerably less stressed. 25: More time discussing the lab work and less time struggling with the lab work individually.
8) If you attended the Sunday and/or Monday night lectures, were they worth attending?
1: Sunday night is always interesting because it gives return students an update on the financial state of RBS. Important for institutional culture Monday (Christian Dupont) was a little weak; CD spoke rather quickly and was hard to keep up with, but his tour of SC later in the week was great. Dedicated guy. 2: Sunday’s lecture was very informative. I was happy to learn more about RBS, particularly as a first-time student. Monday’s was engaging but rather outside my area of interest and experience. 3: Yes. 4: They always are. 5: Yes, both TB’s Sunday lecture as well as CD’s lecture on Monday evening provided frameworks through which to contextualize rare books and their future. 6: Yes. 7: Both felt a little flat, perhaps because Sunday’s was at the end of a long summer of repeats, and Monday’s because it was somewhat ad hoc. I learned from them, but by contrast with the more “electrical” energy of the labs and workshops, they tended to suffer in retrospect. 8: Yes. 9: This question is pretty loaded. I thought both lectures were fine, but neither moved my soul in the way that finally grasping how format and collation work did. 10: Yes. 11: They were interesting, but I don’t think they were truly worth it. 12: Yes, very much enjoyed both. Must say that I resented being told Monday night that this was a requirement. I was desperate to return to homework. That said, however, the lecture was excellent and I appreciated the opportunity. 13: I think CD did a good job with a vague topic. New director? I thought the topic was kind of difficult to qualify. I am wondering if CD came up with this or RBS. Odd topic. 14: I did and they were interesting. 15: The Sunday night lecture with TB was great; CD’s lecture was not so much. I kept waiting for him to get to the point. My time would have been better spent working on homework. 16: Yes, they were. 17: Yes. 18: Didn’t go. 19: Yes. 20: Sunday’s was useful and interesting. Monday’s did not rock my world, but some of that was about homework anxiety and some was about not being an Americanist. 21: Sunday was a nice intro/welcome. Monday was stressful, because I was worried about homework, so I don’t feel I got all I could from it. 22: Yes. 23: The Sunday lecture was worth attending to learn more about the history of RBS. However, it may not have been interesting to repeat RBS students. The Monday speaker’s talk lacked a thesis. Indeed, it lacked a purpose. It was an unfortunate sacrifice of homework time. 24: The Sunday lecture was necessary. 25: Yes. It’s good to know more about RBS’s current state. It was good to hear Monday from a UVa employee who supports RBS and shares its vision.
9) If you attended Museum and Video Nights, was the time profitably spent?
1: Wednesday, too busy doing homework, unfortunately. Thursday, bookseller night, ham biscuits up to snuff! Though prices high. 2: Was doing homework, of course! 3: I went back on Wednesday night because I hadn’t had ample time to see all the marvelous examples of copperplate, lithography stones, etc. 4: I attended the Museums during the allotted class schedule. 5: I’m afraid I did not have time to attend Museum Night on either of those days because I was busy with desbib homework. 6: Yes. 7: I was up until 8:30 or 9:00 each night working on collation, signing, and pagination of books set by variously ingenious and drunken persons, but I would have loved another shot at them. 9: N/A. Every night is Museum Night in DesBib. 11: Wish I had! 12: Superbly done and gratefully received. 13: N/A. Too busy with desbib. 14: I attended museums during the day and was attending press demonstrations or bookseller night at night. 15: N/A. 16: Yes, indeed. 17: N/A. 18: Didn’t go. 19: Yes. 20: I’m afraid I was too busy doing homework on Wednesday and too busy not doing RBS Thursday night. Actually I thought the museum hours built into the day were adequate. 21: N/A. 22: Yes. 23: N/A. 24: Yes, the course was well worth attending, regardless of cost (within reason!) My advice to prospective students is to read Gaskell first, and then read Bowers. And stay on the Lawn, if you can. It completed the experience for me. 25: I attended Wednesday’s museum night. It as very profitable, as I was able to get excellent information from Barbara Heritage on identifying types of leather, something I’d been wondering about.
10) Did you get your money’s worth? Any final thoughts?
1: Hell yeah. RBS beyond valuation. 2: I absolutely got my money’s worth. I came to RBS with very little idea of what I would go away with: a thorough introduction to the history of book printing and an understanding of how it informs the examination of books as objects. The course has exceeded my expectations in every way. THANK YOU! 3: I really thought this course raised me to another level in my comprehension of my field. It has obviously been refined over the years into a work of art. RN in particular is inspiringly knowledgeable. I would recommend that future attendees bring some kind of portable snacks, like energy bars, for homework nights. 4: Absolutely. As with other RBS classes I have taken, this one was worth every penny and every minute of one’s time. The importance of diligent preparation before coming to Charlottesville cannot be overemphasized. 5: Yes, indeed. My only suggestion for other persons considering taking this course in a future year is that they read both Bowers and Gaskell with great care. 6: Well worth the money, the time, and the considerable effort required here. Not for the faint of heart, but essential for a rare book professional or one aspiring to that goal. 7: Yes, especially as it was my Dean’s money, bless him. More to the point, it was an extremely valuable week of my summer research and course preparation time. Persons considering this course should have a long talk with their college archivist, or with members of the teaching faculty. The collaborative sharing of needs and resources will make this course seem as necessary as a typical theory-based “critical methods” course in graduate school, for faculty, or librarians, they may finally set some visibility and reappear when they can finally explain to faculty members and administration why the school’s oldest books are as important as its newest science labs. 8: Well, I wish it could have been had for less money. But life is choice. 9: Yes. I loved this course. I learned so much about the language and lives of books; I suspect that I’ll never look at a book in the same way again. I liked staying on the Lawn. My lab group gave SR a ton of suggestions this morning, so I’m trusting him to hand them on. I loved having a lab group, and I liked that we were all academics -- that was smart grouping. I would tell desbib student of the future to expect to get worn out and to pace themselves — take a couple hours for dinner, rest during lunch, don’t expect to get off campus until late in the week, but then, enjoy! And bask in the knowledge of what good, hard work you’ve done. (Also, I’m so glad I brought a box of Balance bars with me -- good protein for breakfast). Thanks for all the coffee during breaks! 10: Definitely. The RBS session I attended offered so much (especially several evenings) that I had a hard time deciding which things to do. So many beneficial activities! Be prepared to happily exhaust yourself! 11: Absolutely I got my money’s worth! My advice for future students is to do all the reading in advance and practice with the facsimiles and watch the videos. Once you arrive on campus, you will have no time to catch up reading or the energy! Take breaks and make sure you get enough food and sleep. It’s intense, but well worth the effort! 12: I should have stated earlier that although I paid for everything myself, I will get $1000 award/scholarship from my library alumni group that will pay half my costs. This has been a difficult week for me, but I am glad that I came. As I said earlier, the plunge in, the lack of help during homework, the sheer number of books to do -- this was overwhelming, and I nearly left. I am glad that I stayed. I am not accustomed to being out of sync, and I resented the fact that I felt abandoned. I understand your system and parts of it are indeed admirable. For those with little background, a lecture or two illustrating the Bowers method would have been a great help. 13: Yes! This is an important course. My advice is to do the reading over and over. If you have some books to practice with, all the better. 14: I got more than my money’s worth. I paid the entire sum myself -- and I am a poor student -- and it was worth far more than I paid. I would advise people taking the course to do the reading, maybe even look at a few books as examples and come well rested, because the homework is too hard, but fascinating, and you’ll want your eyes and brain to be prepared. It’s a really great class. 15: Certainly. Do not come if you didn’t do the reading and aren’t prepared to work hard. Otherwise you’re wasting everyone’s time. 16: Indeed, this course is essential for anybody seriously involved in literary or historical research. It has made me change my approach to my own field of studies. 17: Bring the Gaskell text with you! And as so many others have mentioned, if you can’t do the preliminary readings before class, don’t bother coming. You will be lost. 18: I think I got my money’s worth and then some! Advice for putative future students: Do the pre-class reading. Bring Gaskell with you, even though there is no formal instruction to do so. Bid farewell to sleep until Thursday night. Eat the roasted red pepper relish at the first Italian restaurant after getting off the trolley downtown. Enjoy! 19: Hands down, the best professional course I have ever taken. Best staff, best materials, etc. Look forward to coming back...but I don’t plan to count anything for at least a week! 20: It’s a lot of work, and if you are interested in “book history” this class doesn’t really do that. (This wasn’t a problem for me because I’ve had other RBS courses and grad student English department courses, but it is not that clear that desbib presupposes a general familiarity with bookmaking conventions.) And yes, I got my money’s worth. I can read bibliographies well, and that’s worth a lot over a career! 21: Yes. Don’t be intimidated by the volume or complexity of work. It’s worth it, you’ll learn tons, and you’re here to learn. There is no dunce cap in the corner. (And it’s fun.) 22: Yes. Please warn students about the humidity (dress appropriately!). Clearly RBS is a very professionally run school, and taking the course was a wonderful opportunity to meet new colleagues and friends. 23: Definitely a return on my investment! For future students, start reading way ahead of time and also get your hands on some rare books before coming here or while reading Bowers. 24: Yes. 25: I did get my money’s worth. I recommend the class to others. The sum of the RBS collections is an experience unequalled elsewhere.
Number of respondents: 25
Leave Tuition Housing Travel
Institution Institution Institution Institution
gave me leave paid tuition paid housing paid travel
48% 52% 62% 52%
I took vaca- I paid tui- I paid for my I paid my own
tion time tion myself own housing travel
16% 40% 32% 44%
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
36% 8% 4% 4%
There were nine rare book librarians (36%), three teacher/professors (12%), four full-time students (16%), two antiquarian booksellers (8%), one archivist/manuscript librarian (4%), one general librarian with some rare book duties (4%), one conservator/binder/preservation librarian (4%), one retiree (4%), and three “other” (12%), of whom two are part-time students and one is a head of special collections.