Jan Storm van Leeuwen

B-50: Seminar in the History of Bookbinding


5-9 January 2009




1)    How useful were the pre-course readings?


1: The pre-course readings were very useful, and will be used for reference after the course. 2: Yes. It was invaluable to read the pre-course materials and examine the images. I would have been very lost without the readings. 3: Extremely useful. I highly recommended reading, and looking at as many images as possible in advance. 4: Very useful and thorough. 5: The pre-course readings were very helpful for establishing a framework for the course. 6: There were many – and all in languages I could read – useful. The illustrations (in every language) were good tools, and David Pearson’s book [English bookbinding styles 1450-1800] with its practical approach was especially excellent.


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


1: Class distributions were minimal, but useful. 2: Yes – a booklet would be nice, but I took sufficient notes that will work well with the pre-course readings. 3: There was no course workbook, but the handout on French regions and collections will be most useful. 4: I would have appreciated a course book with a general overview of the materials covered, with photos, perhaps: sort of an illustrated time-line of bindings. 5: N/A: this was a free-form seminar with limited print materials. 6: There was no course workbook – but an illustrated time-line 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 intellectual level was informative – made you think. 2: All was interesting. The binding styles were important to me. I will use both the older and c19 publishers’ binding information in my future work. The intellectual level was just hard enough to challenge. 3: Pompadour and c18 bindings; publishers’ bindings – but everything was relevant. 4: I am interested in all things Bookbinding, so I was totally engaged in every moment of this stimulating and well-organized class. 5: The intellectual level as totally appropriate. I think the c18 bindings will be most relevant for me. 6: All was great: new information and examples of publishers’ bindings – across the centuries was interesting – especially the context. The intellectual content stretched each participant.


4)    Was time devoted to studying original materials at WAM or JHU well spent?


1: Absolutely! – Couldn’t get enough of the original materials. 2: Yes! 3: You could not take this course without seeing the WAM or JHU materials. 4: Absolutely. 5: It was wonderful, but after a while it became sensory overload! 6: Absolutely. These are the resources we would not see without RBS.


5)    What did you like best about the course?


1: Continued the overview of JSvL’s original course, but in more detail. I appreciated having a more in-depth review of Renaissance bindings, with the similarities and differences between periods. 2: Everything. I learned so much that it will take some time to filter it into my work and research. 3: JSvL and the availability of RBS materials to complement the WAM and JHU facilities. 4: I liked everything. – maybe more fruit at breaks, something besides sweets. 5: JSvL: he makes everything approachable, fun, and full of content. 6: Seeing the many original bindings in WAM, JHU, and RBS; the approachability of JSvL and the exchanges with my fellow students; the after hours tours; the ability to carefully examine original material, especially RBS materials.


6)    How could the course have been improved?


1: Would have liked more participant identification and description of actual bindings – a good learning tool when you are handed the unknown and asked to be specific about identifying characteristics. 2: Perhaps a handout of binders, otherwise it was fine. 3: Some kind of streamlining for getting in and out of WAM (perhaps having name tags and sign-in done in advance); fewer carbohydrates at break. 4: It would have been nice to have been given pictures and notes of the bindings we discussed, like PowerPoint printouts with time-lines – then it would be easier to remember what I learned in the future. 5: I would have liked a little more structure. 6: Better lighting in the room to see materials readily available; raking light, and magnifying glass. An illustrated time-line with images of the examples we were seeing. This is a visual class, and we need a visual reminder sheet arranged according to the approach of the course.


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


1: I thought everyone was careful with the materials and cognizant of handling protocols. 3: None. 4: I think that we did handle covers a bit more than necessary. Wedges rather than blocks (or in addition) might be nice. 5: None – I think it was appropriate. 6: No concerns – everyone was respectful of the books as objects or art treasures, and treated them as such.


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


1: Yes! Enjoyed it immensely. The Ethiopian restaurant was great; casual but tasty! 2: Yes, definitely. 3: Absolutely. 4: Yes. 5: The Sunday reception was a wonderful way to meet people, and the Monday night lecture was a great way to blend the interests of students in both courses. 6: The Sunday dinner was fun and a nice way to get to know people. The Monday lecture by JSvL was both informative and entertaining – and held in a beautiful space.


9)    If you attended the evening tours of JHU’s Peabody Library and/or the WAM, was the time profitably spent?


1: Yes, without question. Both were highlights of the course week. 2: Yes. 3: Absolutely. 4: These were very special opportunities to see and hear about interesting institutions, and rare and unusual collections. 5: I loved the JHU tour. The Walters one dragged on a little long. 6: Both were well-worth the time. It was grand to see the internal working spaces of both institutions.


10)  Did you get your money’s worth? Any final or summary thoughts, or advice for other persons considering taking this course in a future year?

1: Worth every penny and then some – to have the benefit of JSvL’s knowledge and experience was priceless. He was a joy to be around, and his enthusiasm for his materials was contagious. He is the best! 2: Yes – I cannot wait to take the next course. 3: Yes, more than my money’s worth. Come prepared to be engaged and ready to learn! 4: Yes, I think so. 5: It was worth every penny! I can’t say enough good things about the RBS experience. It’s exhausting but invaluable. And JSvL is a gem of an instructor. 6: Yes. Thank you very much to everyone who made this a terrific experience!


Number of respondents: 06



Leave                        Tuition                      Housing                    Travel

Institution                 Institution                 Institution                 Institution
gave me leave            paid tuition               paid housing              paid travel

50%                             33%                             33%                             33%


I took vaca-                I paid tui-                   I paid for my              I paid my own
tion time                    tion myself                 own housing              travel

0%                               67%                             50%                             50%


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

50%                             0%                               17%                             17%


There were: 1 rare book librarian (17%), 1 archivist/manuscript librarian (17%), 1 teacher (17%), 1 conservator (17%), 1 special collections librarian (17%), and 1 book collector (17%).