John Buchtel & Mark Dimunation

H-10: History of the Book, 200-2000

24-28 July 2006


1)   How useful were the pre-course readings?

1: The readings provided a good framework for the course. 2: Very useful as a resource and review. Touched upon all pertinent material. 3: Invaluable! As the instructors spoke, I could mentally refer to Chappell, Rota. 4: Very useful. I felt well-prepared for the class. 5: Pre-course readings were useful, but not very necessary. They do provide a good basic list along with our exit list of reference books and related topics. 6: Excellent, though the abridged Eisenstein is dull. 7: These readings were very useful. My course experience was enriched from them. 8: Very helpful. 10: Extremely useful. Most of the major concepts covered in class were touched on in the readings, and having this background was vital for a survey course that moved quickly from necessity. 11: The pre-course readings were tremendously helpful in getting a good foundation for the discussions in the class. The instructors frequently brought out themes from the reading in their examples. 12: The readings were helpful in preparing a vocabulary list for class.


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 additional reading list provides ample further reading. The syllabus was clear. The chronology it included is helpful. 2: Yes, very much so. 3: Yes, and will continue to be. 4: Yes. Especially the “further reading” list. 5: Yes. This gave us a very accurate idea of how our time was to be spent. 6: Yes. 7: The materials were wonderful and always very appropriate to what we had reviewed in class. 8: Yes. 9: Yes. They will be particularly helpful once I return to work. 10: Yes. The syllabus will help build my base knowledge of the subject on my own time, which will help compensate for the lack of courses at my current institution. 11: They will provide me with a very solid resource for further study and reference. 12: Yes. They were very useful and will be used 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: I was fascinated to learn about the changes in book production over the centuries. The course was intellectually challenging. Our professors were very knowledgeable, and they interacted with the class quite well. 2: The hands-on process was very helpful. Having materials readily available and explained at the moment helps information stick in one’s mind. 3: The explanations of how certain books impact cultural growth were powerful. The intellectual level was appropriate. 4: The course was a good overview, touching on a large number of topics and putting them in a larger context. 5: Greatest interest was pre 1700. Intellectual level very appropriate. Technical when it needed to be, basic when it needed to be. 6: Manuscripts and early printing. 7: The classes on the 19th/20th century were of most relevance to my research. The instructors were so engaging, that I approached all time periods with equal enthusiasm. 9: Medieval through 18th-century books, as those are the areas I know least about and which are covered commonly in the collection I care for. 10: I found the intellectual level of the course fitting; and, as an undergraduate, I am very glad I started with the survey and did not leap into something more advanced. I found all aspects of the course interesting, having no prior knowledge. 11: I was most fascinated by the discussions on how early books (through the Renaissance) were produced. The course was challenging and informative without being confusing. The intellectual level of the course was most appropriate.

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: The time in SC was well spent; we got to see extraordinary materials owned by UVa. Also, our filed trip to the Library of Congress was very beneficial. We saw outstanding examples of books throughout the ages. 2: Yes, very much so. 3: To have experienced history through these volumes was a huge wallop. 4: Our trip to LC Rare Books Division was very worthwhile. We got to see many books that we would not have been able to see otherwise. 5: Yes. Just enough time to chat with other RBS students, bathroom break, and caffeine intake. 6: Definitely. Especially the trip to LC. 7: Yes! We went to the LC. It was a wonderful day spent with some books I will remember for a lifetime. 8: Yes, spectacular. 9: Yes. The trip to LC was particularly wonderful. A once-in-a-lifetime chance to see some of the nation’s treasures, explained by passionate and animated book lovers. Very inspiring. 10: The trip to the LC was absolutely amazing. I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to see and hear all of the rare and unusual things that were presented that day. 11: Definitely. To see examples that fit in so perfectly with the discussions was invaluable. There is no substitute for seeing the real thing. 12: Yes, very much so.


5)   What did you like best about the course?

1: I enjoyed learning from such knowledgeable professors. They worked well together, clearly loved their subject, and gave good feedback to students. 2: Mark’s stories. 3: The thrill of seeing the books I had previously only read about and the instructors’ careful explanations. 4: That it introduced both technical topics, and the historical/social contexts, and how they relate. Also, we got to see and handle many books and printing artifacts. 5: Besides the content (obviously), the instructors by far made the class what it is. 6: MD is an excellent teacher, thoroughly entertaining. LC trip was extraordinary. 7: Everything! Phenomenal instructors. Special collections sessions at LC and UVa. 8: The materials. Fabio. 9: The instructors, the topic, the visual experience of seeing first-hand remarkable literature in beautiful formats and condition. Having the books related to broader social and cultural context was also extremely useful and informative. 10: I love the manner in which material was presents: serious, but never dull. Being able to see and touch things I had only read about prior to the course absolutely changed my understanding of the material. 11: I learned a tremendous amount of material in a short period of time in the most enjoyable way I can imagine. The instructors are so engaged in the topic and have a genuine love for the field that it comes across in the class and gets you excited about it, too. 12: Aside form the teachers and visiting LC, the chance to see up close books of great importance in the history of books.


6)   How could the course have been improved?

1: The only way the course could be improved is to have been longer. There was so much more to see. But it achieved its goal of introducing us to the history of the book. 2: Longer -- I didn’t want it to end. 3: It was wonderful! 4: Maybe some time in classroom to look at examples and reference books? The room was locked during breaks. 5: I don’t think it can be. Fabio and Al Manach are the perfect chief and cherub team. 6: Show less in sometime periods or plan to give more time with individual items. 7: In my opinion, the course was perfect. I have been inspired to pursue research in the field and hope to take more courses in book history. 8: Stellar course. A bit more on market forces. The economies of book collecting would be useful. 10: A pencil-sharpener would have been great. :) 11: I can’t conceive of any way to improve it unless more time could be spent at LC. 12: Personal taste only: I could have done without 6th and 19th centuries.


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: Our professors modeled carful use of collections, and the instructed us in the use of the collections. 2: No suggestions. 3: Handling of materials was explained well and appropriate reminders were given. 4: No suggestions. Instructions for handling were clear and helpful. 5: Handling was very careful and rightfully so. Not only is some material old and fragile, but it is not ours, therefore needing to be treated with respect. 9: Opportunities and reminders to wash hands, especially after donut breaks. Not sure if everyone did! 10: I feel that we were properly instructed in ow to approach the item. 11: No suggestions.


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

1: The Sunday lecture was worth attending. TB helped us get acclimated to the RBS program. 2: Yes, both were worth the time and effort. Sunday for meeting people, and Monday for an interesting topic of discussion. 3: Yes. 4: Yes. Good speakers. 5: Yes. 6: Dupont lecture was very good. 7: Yes. 8: N/A. 10: I was unable to attend. 11: I attended Sunday night. It was useful (as this was my first RBS course) to get a feel for the culture of RBS.

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

1: Museum Night was well prepared and interesting. 2: N/A. 3: Missed. 4: We missed this, due to the field trip to LC. 5: N/A. 6: No. 7: We were away at LC. 8: Yes. 9: Paper Museum Night was great. Instructors from other courses were on hand, giving me an opportunity to interact with RBS staff I otherwise wouldn’t have. Extremely useful to see examples of paper, paper making equipment, etc in person. 10: I was unable to attend, but definitely would have gone to video night if not for time conflicts with the field trip. 11: N/A.


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

1: I definitely got my money’s worth. The professors were truly outstanding. It was an honor to take this course. 2: Yes, very much so. I would suggest this course and what I’ve heard of others, to anyone interested. It was/is a great general knowledge/review course for anyone considering a future in rare books librarianship. 3: Oh, yes! The preparation and care given to this course must be monumental. It is well appreciated. 4: Yes. This is an excellent introduction and overview of the subject. 5: I highly recommend this course to anyone just entering RBS, whether professional, student, or enthusiast. 6: Excellent value. A week very well spent. 7: I am so appreciative of our wonderful instructors who taught us so much this week. The course was truly incredible and unlike any other learning experience I have ever had. The opportunity to work with actual materials was very exciting, and it gave me an entirely new and enriched understanding of what I had read. 9: Yes. I’m an archivist, very new to having responsibilities for caring for rare books. This course will help me make the leap from being custodian to curator. Thank you! 10: I paid for this course myself, a hefty sum for an undergraduate. It did not disappoint me and indeed, exceeded my expectations. My experience here has solidified my desire to pursue a future in rare book librarianship. The RBS is an invaluable resource to persons of all ages and stations in life, but I can speak for the younger generation as it being especially so. Thank you for this marvelous opportunity! 11: I am very satisfied with my experience and have already recommended the course to coworkers. My only advice is to do as much of the reading as you can before coming. It really helps! 12: I got my money’s worth and certainly would have paid more for what I experienced. JB and MD are phenomenal teachers.

Number of respondents: 12


Leave                       Tuition                    Housing                   Travel

Institution                 Institution                 Institution                 Institution

gave me leave            paid tuition               paid housing              paid travel

50%                             42%                            50%                            50%



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

tion time                     tion myself                 own housing              travel


8%                               42%                            33%                            42%



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


42%                             17%                            17%                            8%




There were four archivist/manuscript librarians (33%), three full-time students (25%), two antiquarian booksellers (17%), one preservation librarian (8%), one retiree (8%), and one library administrator (8%).