Tom Congalton and Katherine Reagan

G-30: Bibliographer's Toolkit: Printed Books since 1800

8-12 June 2009


1) How useful were the pre-course readings?


1: Very informative. 2: Very good except Gaskell too dense. 4: Reading list was thankfully short and to the point. Gaskell was a hard go—very tedious. 5: The pre-course readings were well targeted and informative. They were substantial without being overwhelming. I look forward to reviewing and rereading most of them. 6: Very—both required readings are great overviews and the Nabokov's Butterfly was a fun, yet educational, read. 7: Helpful. 8: Carter and Gaskell were just at the right level and highly relevant for the course.


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: Yes—the handouts appropriately supplemented the lectures and readings. As they say, "a purchase is worth ..." 2: Yes. 4: Yes. 5: Course materials were well done and will be referred to in the future. 6: Very much so—we even had full-color pamphlets in addition to handouts. 7: Yes, very useful for future reference. 8: Yes. The schedule was accurate and the further reading list is invaluable. The "picture books" by TC's staff were/will be incredibly useful as I review my notes.


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: Learning what makes a book valuable; the parts of the book, the history of the book. 2: Doing description exercise very useful. 'Museums' also great. 4: I enjoyed the last three days the most because they were more relevant to my area of interest. 5: The introduction to descriptive bibliography was enlightening. I particularly liked the survey of 20th-century dust jackets. 6: I really enjoyed the class day on illustration techniques, when we used the lightscopes—looking closely at these processes was fun! The intellectual level was spot on, particularly for my first RBS course. Great overview! 7: The hands on experience—museums; hearing how a top university Special Collections goes about buying; hands-on experience of ways to evaluate the books was most useful; the overview of various evaluation criteria suited my purpose. 8: The general introduction to books (history, type, illustration, bindings, differences between eras ...) was perfect for my status as a beginner "book" person. Highly recommended to anyone who wants a broad survey.


4) If your course left its classroom to visit Special Collections (SC) or to make other field trips away from your classroom, was the time devoted to this purpose well spent?


1: Yes—seeing Lower Tibet, attending the booksellers panel, and BH's [RBS Assistant Director Barbara Heritage's] lecture all added a different dimension to the course. 2: It was very good. 4: N/A. A trip to Special Collections would have been a welcome addition. 5: BH's Jane Eyre presentation was delightful. And it was nice to browse and use the RBS collections in Lower Tibet. 6: Yes, all our time was used well—in fact, the classes flew by, time-wise. 7: Yes, the talk BH gave was very useful. 8: We went to Lower Tibet. The time was well spent and—if anything—more time down there would have been great.


5) What did you like best about the course?


1: The fact that the instructors approached the subject from two different perspectives; the opinions and questions from fellow students—I am glad that all the students were not practicing librarians, but some were collectors. TC and KR worked well together as a team here! I learned so much and appreciated the patience for all my questions. 2: Hands-on, discussion-format of sessions. 4: Hands-on exercises. 5: The two instructors and the perspectives of the book world they represent. They did a great job of getting us through an immense amount of information. 6: The interplay between TC and KR was great. I loved having two sides of the profession available for all of our topics. 7: The input of both a bookseller and an institutional curator. 8: There were many things, but the best one was the "Museums." It is so hard, as a beginner, to understand all the terms in Carter and Gaskell. Seeing and touching real examples was instructive. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a object is worth a million.


6) How could the course have been improved?


1: Hard to think of anything; I liked the projects—gave me a chance to apply what I learned. 2: Stop TC from reading his sections—it was too fast and too boring! 3: Since I wasn't sure just what to expect, I'm not sure. Everything that was covered was done well. 4: Powerpoint presentation or other visual aids would have added more interest and given broader examples especially during lectures that were directly from notes. 5: A few labels and descriptions in the handouts and notebooks would add to their already great worth. 6: TC needs to try lecturing instead (I believe in you, TC!) of reading. He does just fine when he doesn't have his notes, and it would improve the quality of his talks tenfold. 8: TC's paper booklets were great. I would suggest adding more text and examples. If the organization of the "Binding Terms" more closely followed the format of Carter, then that would be great. Maybe references to Carter page numbers.


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?


2: I think RBS does an excellent job. 3: I was impressed with the organization of and care taken with the RBS materials. There seemed to be a good balance between accessibility and restrictions. 4: N/A. 5: Materials were handled in an expert and professional manner. 6: Everyone handled the materials respectfully and with care. Some of your foam wedges were the wrong size for the books (usually too big). 7: For really fragile material it was helpful to have someone walking around with it, as we had. 8: I think it was fine. We were given a sheet of good practices and were given adequate demonstrations to the handling of books.


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


1: Somewhat—I wanted more time to research my interests. 2: Yes, absolutely. 3: I think attending Sunday is invaluable as a time to meet everyone, to get a feel for what goes on and to get you into the "world" of RBS. Supper was great too! 4: Absolutely. 5: Monday's Shakespeare lecture [by Stephen Enniss, Librarian of the Folger Shakespeare Library] was thoughtful and entertaining, offering a mostly optimistic outlook for the future of rare books and scholarship. 6: Yes, the lecture on Monday was very well done. You should have him speak again. I was not present for the Sunday lecture (traveling). 7: Yes, the speaker, movies, and bookselling night were all part of the overall RBS immersion into Rare Books. The homework night was appreciated and welcomed, too! 8: Yes. The Sunday lecture was very interesting. The only improvement would have been the addition of pictures.


9) 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: Yes!! 2: I did get my money's worth and would recommend this experience. 3: Even if I had paid my tuition, I would have gotten my money's worth. My advice would be: don't fret too much about which course you should take—you'll always learn something. 4: Without a doubt I got my money's worth. KR's and TC's expertise was greatly appreciated, and they were generous with their knowledge. 5: This was my third RBS class. I cannot thank you all enough for the privilege of attending these classes. I have learned so much. This course is a practical, hands-on introduction to book collecting. An excellent primer for a host of other RBS classes. 6: Yes, I think so. I would advise teachers/administrators to consider using online classroom tools for class (like a blog, wiki, Google doc, or Moodle site). I started one with my classmates that I think will be very useful. 7: Yes. Read the course contents carefully to ensure what is covered in class is what you want. I was happy that I picked the course I did because I wanted an overview, not an intensive focus. 8: Since it was free, an emphatic yes! All kidding aside, I would have certainly put off major purchases for my book collection just to save up the money to take this course. This is a one of a kind, intense (but not stressful) learning experience where both the instructor and all the students actually care and came prepared. There should be no doubt that this course was worth the price of admission. I plan on taking a course every year for the rest of my life (assuming I can gain admission to the school)—I will find the money and time to make this happen. Easily the highlight of the year (and I've had an awesome year).


Number of respondents: 8





Institution gave me leave: 25%

I took vacation time: 13%

N/A: self-employed, retired, or had summers off: 63%



Institution paid tuition: 25%

I paid tuition myself: 38%

N/A: self-employed, retired, or scholarship: 38%



Instution paid housing: 25%

I paid for my own housing: 63%

N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home: 13%



Institution paid travel: 25%

I paid my own travel: 63%

N/A: lived nearby: 13%


There were: 1 rare book librarian (13%), 2 general librarians with some rare book duties (25%), 1 full-time student (13%), 1 antiquarian bookseller (13%), 2 book collectors (25%), and one former law librarian (13%).