Deborah J. Leslie

L-30: Rare Book Cataloging

22-26 June 2009




1) How useful were the pre-course readings?


1: I spent time and expense acquiring the Allen chapter but did not use it much. Reading DCRM(B) beforehand, however, was very helpful. 2: Very useful. 3: The pre-course reading were very useful. 4: The pre-course readings were very relevant and helpful. I found reading the entirety of DCRM(B) and the relevant section of Gaskell to be particularly useful. 5: Essential. 6: The pre-course readings were all very relevant, and they helped to put the information I was to learn in context. It was particular useful that readings were categorized by "required" and "optional." 7: Very useful! They provided a thorough context for what we learned in class. 8: Extremely useful - this particular class will just not work if you haven't done the readings beforehand. There is too much information to cram in and understand otherwise. 9: The pre-course readings were useful. 10: All the readings were very important and necessary to attend the course. I am grateful I had the advance notice on the needed preparation. 11: It is useful. 12: Wide range. Some only became comprehensible once the area was covered in class. Will provide continuing reference value in some cases. Only one long (50p.) article proved unreadable.


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, they were useful beforehand and will be very useful later. 2: Yes. 3: Yes, the binder will definitely be going on my office reference shelf. 4: Yes, both during class and in the future. 5: Yes! 6: The notebook that DJL compiled was so helpful that I am going to retain it as part of my professional resources at work and share it with my colleagues. 7: Yes. The PowerPoint slides included the main points covered, and the title page and sample MARC records were (and will be in the future) invaluable as models. 8: All materials were useful. PowerPoint slide handouts are more useful when distributed before the lecture than after. 9: The course syllabus and the materials distributed in class are very useful and I intend to use them when I return to my institution. 10: The syllabus was very useful, and the material absolutely appropriate. 11: Yes (very useful). 12: Yes (see previous comment).


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 parts on note formulation. Yes, the intellectual level was appropriate. 2: The intellectual level of the course was entirely appropriate; that the instructor manages to include bibliographic concepts like binding identification and collation while teaching DCRM(B), and without compromising the cataloging instruction, is useful (and impressive). 3: There wasn't anything in the course that was non-relevant. The note field were of greatest interest to me. Intellectually I thought it was very appropriate. 4: The intellectual level was appropriate. 5: The entire course. The course content was wonderfully challenging. 6: Examples certainly helped the most. We examined several items physically or in facsimile. I was able to understand many rare book cataloging rules through such a variety of examples. 7: The entire course was useful. I think we really covered all of the important aspects of rare book cataloging, including transcription, format, signatures, required notes, tracings, and copy-specific notes. The pace and level of the course were perfect. 9: All the course content was exactly what I was wanting. The intellectual level of the course was appropriate. 10: I appreciated to have a chance to see the practical application of all the [illegible] studied with the pre-course readings. The intellectual level was appropriate. 11: How to catalog according to DCRB, knowledge of hand printing. 12: The areas of description most "peculiar" to rare books. (Signatures, relators, etc.)


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, it was well spent. The scholar with whom we interacted [David Vander Meulen] was well-prepared, friendly, expert, and offered cogent commentary. 2: Our field trip to Harrison/Small [UVa Special Collns] was very useful, illustrating concepts we learned in the previous session. 3: Yes it was one of the highlights of the course. 4: Yes, the visit to SC came just at the right time to reinforce what we were discussing about edition, impression, issue, and state, and the presentation did so succinctly and effectively. 5: Yes, very well spent. 6: Our field trip to SC truly helped to solidify the meanings of "edition," "impression," "issue," and "state." 7: We only had a short "field trip" to SC. The copies of editions we saw were very useful for understanding edition, impression, issue, and state. Our speaker was not as engaging as DJL, but was incredibly knowledgeable. 9: The time devoted to our field trip was very well spent. 10: Yes. We visited SC, and met with the rare book bibliographer. It was an interesting visit, and I learned more about rare books manufacture, by listening to the bibliographer, while observing the material. 12: Yes. The juxtaposition of the volumes we were shown provided excellent instruction.


5) What did you like best about the course?


1: I liked best the opportunity for class discussion, the instructor's willingness to take questions, and the opportunity for hands-on exercise and review. 2: Its comprehensiveness and efficiency. 3: Being able to do practice exercises. 4: The hands-on experiences: the sample transcription exercises and the practicum. 5: Hard to say, the whole course. 6: I appreciate the collegiality and DJL's extensive knowledge of the subject. 7: The amount of hands-on practice that was incorporated into each day. It was an excellent balance of lecture/presentation vs. practice. 9: Participation of everyone in the course. 10: I enjoyed my classes, as they were intense, but right on target. I have learned a great deal of rare book cataloging. I also enjoyed the social aspect of the week at RBS, and the movie night, and the demonstration of some print by TB. Thank you. 11: The information that I got in one week, meeting new people with the same interest. 12: I feel that the balance between scope and depth was gauged extremely well. Very little information was included that I don't anticipate using, and I feel that I was given information in all areas that I imagine any need for. The questions and discussions were also very stimulating.


6) How could the course have been improved?


1: We could have devoted perhaps a little more time to discussion of setting rare book cataloging policy in an institutional context. 2: The Sharpie markers for the practicum were difficult to use; a dark, finer tipped marker would be preferable. 3: I think one or two of the videos could be eliminated. Monday, especially, with staying after for a video, rushing off to lecture and then having homework was just too long of a day. 4: One thing that could be improved would be the "framing" of some of the issues to be discussed before launching into the heart of the presentation. I'm thinking particularly of the discussion of form/genre terms and relator terms - before class, I had never used a 655 field nor heard the expression "relator terms," and I needed a little more orientation before I could understand the details. 6: It is impossible to cover every aspect of rare book cataloging, but it would be helpful to cover notes in greater detail. 7: I can't think of anything to improve it. 9: I have no suggestions it was very good. 11: If each student has a computer to do the exercise.


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: Handling of materials was generally reasonable and according to established professional standards. 2: All precautions were appropriate. 3-4: None. 5: To have a short tutorial on proper handling to ensure that everyone understands best practicse. This could be given program-wide during registration. 6: It is always important to educate on the handling of rare materials, and I feel this objective was met in this course. 7: No suggestions. We had book foams and book snakes for our materials, which was great. 9: NO suggestions. 10: I think our teacher and all, handled the material responsibly.


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


1: The Sunday lecture, while moderately interesting, contained mostly information on the history of RBS which one could acquire elsewhere or could have acquired at a different time. One can question whether it was so important to have that information conveyed when people had spent a day traveling. I know the Travel and Housing Guide recommends arriving a day early, but not everyone can afford to do that. (And just because they can't afford to arrive early, that doesn't mean they're not serious.) The Monday evening lecture [by Roger Stoddard] was interesting and relevant to some of my research. 2: The Sunday lectures are always worth attending to get the lowdown on RBS—both to the history and the latest news. Roger Stoddard's lecture was a rare treat. 3: Sunday was worthwhile. The Monday lecture didn't interest me that much, though I did go to it. Movie night was good; study night was a little of a let down, (I thought they'd have more stuff set up); booksellers night the best part was going to Franklin Gilliam. 4: N/A 5: Yes. 6: It is worthwhile to attend the lectures in theory, but I did not particularly enjoy this Monday's lecture. 7: I must admit, the Sunday evening lecture did not match my interests well. But the presentation that TB gave on Tuesday evening, showing copies of Audubon prints, was fascinating!! 8: The Monday evening lecture did not seem to be a good fit for a large percentage of its audience - would have been more instructive with at least a few images of some of the bindings the speaker described. 9: In general yes though I didn't attend all evening lectures. 10: Yes. 11: The films are very useful. The lecture this time was boring. 12: Some more than others, but all occasions for gathering under RBS auspices were worthwhile.


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, I believe I generally got my money's worth. The following general comment applies to RBS in general, not my instructor. As a general comment, RBS needs to reconsider some of the attitudes that seem to permeate its institutional culture. For example, I had read comments in previous years' course evaluation that while RBS staff called the evening activities optional "they really weren't". Several times during my attendance I heard that we really did need to be in attendance at some "optional" event. As a result, I missed several meals. Previous statements from RBS staff had suggested that they conflate a willingness to do that with "seriousness". This, combined with statements about how RBS was trying to remain some last bastion of quality to me suggested that RBS has an institutional culture suffused with perhaps a little passive-aggressiveness. Consider, for example, what might happen if a diabetic student missed or was late to one of the "optional" evening events because he or she "dared" to eat. Would that person, under the current RBS institutional culture, risk judgement as "unserious" or an enabler of "low quality" education? Further, RBS written documentation even suggests that students can expect a potentially hostile attitude before they even arrive. For example, the Travel and Housing Guide for our session actually mentions of the staff that "our tempers are liable to be brittle until everything is ready" (p. 22) and not to arrive early. While I would never wish to be so rude as to arrive early, suppose after a difficult day of traveling I had needed to attend to some administrative matter? Seriousness and professional commitment to scholarship and quality education ARE NOT incompatible with collegiality, human compassion, and understanding. RBS should recognize that. 2: This was money well spent. If you're a rare books cataloger and seek an efficient (though rigorous) path to becoming a "sleek" cataloger, then the course is for you. DJL is clearly a first-rate cataloger; she also happens to be a first-rate teacher—charming, humorous, friendly, and helpful. 3: Yes, the course is well worth it. 4: Definitely worth the money. 5: Money's worth? - Absolutely! Make sure you complete all of the readings, including suggested readings. 6: Absolutely worth the money. 7: Yes! 8: Yes! To anyone planning on taking this class - make sure you complete all the readings before you arrive. 9: I think I got my money's worth. I recommend this course. 10: The money is all worth! I'd like to come again to RBS and take other courses. 11: Yes. 12: A good investment, possibly made more intense by it being literally a personal one.


Number of respondents: 12






Institution gave me leave: 75%

I took vacation time: 25%

N/A: self-employed, retired, or had summers off: 0%



Institution paid tuition: 75%

I paid tuition myself: 17%

N/A: self-employed, retired, or scholarship: 8%



Instution paid housing: 67%

I paid for my own housing: 33%

N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home: 0%



Institution paid travel: 58%

I paid my own travel: 42%

N/A: lived nearby: 0%


There were 4 rare book librarians (33%), 7 general librarians with some rare book duties (58%), and one cataloging librarian (8%).