20-24 July 2009
1) How useful were the pre-course readings?
1: Good, comprehensive list to give basic foundations. 2: I felt they were useful, but I will confess to confusion regarding which readings were mandatory and which were merely recommended. As a result, I didn't read the Eisenstein book and felt ill-prepared for certain discussions. 3: The list was very helpful to help prepare for the class. I recognized subjects as well as illustrations. I purchased the books listed, so I now have my own home library for future reference on the history of the book. 4: Very useful. Although I was dismayed that I could not totally grasp and retain some of the contents, all the topics were covered in class and aptly explained and clarified in the appropriate depth. 5: Pre-course readings were extremely useful—I am glad I did the required reading! Very helpful in class to have done the reading. 6: Very. I read every one and took notes beforehand in preparation and felt prepared for the class. 7: Very useful. Very good start to the overall lay of the course. I loved de Hamel's work in particular. 8: Excellent overview and preparation for the course. Start early. 9: They are very useful. They introduced me to the basic concepts about rare books. It helps to understand the class better. 10: Excellent overview, even beyond some of what we covered in class. 11: Quite useful! 12: Fine. Too much for five days of class, but.
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: Very good. A lot of time and thought was put into this material—I will definitely use this for reference. So relieved not to get PowerPoint printouts. 2: They were and will be of great assistance. At the risk of exposing myself as the content thief that I aspire to be, it might be helpful to supply a few words about how each item listed for viewing contributes to the overall trajectory of the history of the book ... I lack faith in my own notes. 3: All materials were useful and appreciated. 4: They were right on target, and they will provide a useful outline to review the material in the future. 5: Appropriate and very useful—will refer to many on many occasions in the future. 6: Yes, but would have appreciated an indented outline of the day-to-day materials covered. 7: Very useful. Between the packet of materials and my notes, I will have a very good reference tool. 8: Very good. I will refer to these materials often, I am sure, for review and for suggestions on further study. 9: Yes. it is a very nice work book. It helps organize the ideas. 10: Yes. 11: Excellent! 12: Yes.
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: Course was comprehensive and basic (but given time span covered, needed to be basic). So glad history of popular culture re: book history was included. Also, incredible range of materials used as examples - again, great to have actual books/objects instead of PowerPoints... 2: Both the breadth of the material covered and the hands-on experience were central to my goals. The course was sufficiently smart without becoming pedantic. 3: The clear progression of materials used to produce books, in order to date books, was most helpful. The value of maintaining these treasures is even more apparent. The course was designed to help all levels of experience with books. 4: I was interested in learning about the illustration techniques and technologies in order to help me with my volunteer work as a docent at the UVA Art Museum. The intellectual level was appropriate; humor was inserted which will help me retain information presented. 5: All aspects of the course relevant and of interest to me. Intellectual level—on target. I really can't imagine anything better than this class for learning about the history of the book. 6: The intellectual effort and level kept us on our toes which is a good feeling, and at no time did I feel that time was wasted. It was intense. The greatest interest and relevance was not counted in items shown but in experience shared by the instructors about the materials. 7: Seeing and in some cases handling the books. This was indispensable. The level was excellent and given the different levels of experience, remarkable how well it came off. 8: I came with a very technical approach to books - physically and informationally. I leave with a thorough understanding of the necessity of knowing the cultural and historical context of books. 9: I am amazed to see so many rare books presented by the teachers. Yes. The level is appropriate. 10: As an overview course, it was excellent for someone just starting in this field. 11: Nearly every element of the course was relevant. 12: Yes.
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: Wonderful to have access to Library of Congress Special Collections—saw books I'd never have gotten to see, with great, informed commentary. 6.5 hours on a school bus, though, was a drag ... 2: Without question. The SC visits were pleasant changes to the standard background, and the visit to LC was priceless. The sight of Jefferson's library brought tears to my eyes. 3: The entire trip to the LC was absolutely valuable. A great deal of preparation went into the presentation, and books of personal interest were also pulled to make it a personal experience for each of us. 4: This time was extremely well spent and were essential to making the class the exceptional hands-on experience that it was. 5: Time in SC at UVA and at LC was very well spent. More time at LC would be valuable. 6: Yes, the trip to the LC was purposeful, entertaining and exciting. Perhaps, some time in the future an entire course on LC could be offered. 7: Very. The trip to LC will be one of the highlights of my life. 8: Trip to the LC was a highlight of the class and inspirational to me as a professional. 9: Yes. We had a wonderful time in LC. 10: Yes - seeing some of the LC's rare books was amazing. 11: Very well spent. 12: Yes—the LC trip was a nice surprise.
5) What did you like best about the course?
1: Instructors were enthusiastic, wealth of knowledge and use of materials really well planned. 2: JB and MD. Their passion for the subject, patience with us, and good-natured teasing of each other created a learning environment that was both rigorous and unintimidating. This course should be required for anyone who works or wants to work in a rare book library (or any library, really). 3: The teaching ability of MD and JB was beyond compare. They were clear, patient, unbelievably detailed and sincerely enthusiastic. This is the way all history classes should be presented! 4: I like the way MD and JB worked together and presented the concepts in a totally engaging manner. The class was a thoroughly fun and enjoyable learning experience. I liked the hands-on learning opportunities - i.e. the chance to print a sheet, the [fishing tackle] boxes for typefaces, etc., the packets of pages from books. 5: The instructors, the camaraderie, the way that everything came together intellectually. 6: The knowledge shared by the instructors about the materials, and the instructors' ability to impart it in a relaxed and accepting way. 7: Trip to LC and rapport with all the members of the class. 8: The instructors were excellent—knowledgeable, accomplished experts in their field... and they had a great chemistry in the classroom. 9: The history of books is introduced with examples of rare books. 10: The instructors were very knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and they had fun with the material. 11: The instructors, materials, and presentation were all excellent. 12: 1. The class had great chemistry, and 2. It's a treat to have two such knowledgeable teachers to pepper with questions.
6) How could the course have been improved?
2: More flexibility in allowing students access to the reference resources in the evenings. The people in our class weren't able to have study night because of the LC trip. Perhaps have the room open on Tuesdays as well, for those who aren't interested in movies? 3: I see no need to change a single thing. 4: It could not have been improved. 5: It's too bad that it takes so much time to get to and from LC, because more time there would be valuable (and fun). 6: Informal study groups, perhaps? 7: Honestly, I'm not sure how. MD and JB worked really well together and we learned a ton. 8: Couldn't be improved—great for the amount of material covered in just a week. 9: I really cannot think of any for now. I like it very much. 10: Not sure it could be, within time constraints. 11: No suggestions, wouldn't change a thing.
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 was good—care was taken. 2: None. 3: All materials were handled with great care. 4: I can't think of anything that needs improvement. 5: No suggestions - I think classroom handling was not a problem. 6: None. The classroom environment was professional and the students respectful of the materials and how to handle them. 7: I'm not sure how to improve on this. It's a tricky balancing act and most things we simply had to look at and not touch. I respect that. 8: None - instructions on handling materials was well-done. 10: None. 12: Good job Tess!
8) If you attended the Sunday and/or other evening lectures, were they worth attending?
2: Definitely. Mark Dimunation in particular is a charismatic and engaging speaker, to the point that I was willing to listen to him give a keynote address as well as attend his class all week. 3: Absolutely. The talk by MD was highly informative and moving. 4: Yes. I particularly enjoyed MD's lecture on the Jefferson Library. It was a necessary preparation for the field trip to LC. 5: Absolutely. The Sunday lecture sets the stage for the week. The Monday lecture was thought-provoking and relevant. 6: Yes. 7: Yes, both were great. I particularly found MD's talk engaging and informative. 8: Yes. Informative, relevant, and a nice way to interact with students from other classes. 9: Yes. The Monday lecture is very good. The videos on Tuesday are not very good. Maybe RBS can make some better selections. 10: Yes. 11: Yes, nice opening session. 12: N/A
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: Don't stay in the dorms! Bring your own food! (Restaurants not very good and very expensive!) 2: Every penny was worth it. Anyone who hasn't had a formal course in the history of the book should take this course, regardless of background. 3: This course is so valuable! If one wants to experiences countries, era of inventions and great discoveries without leaving Virginia, this is the class to take! My thanks are heartfelt. 4: I would advise everyone considering this course to take it. 5: Absolutely. Advice for others? Enjoy the ride! 6: Prepare yourself through reading, open your mind and listen attentively. 7: Absolutely. I've taken a number of rare book courses and this was the best yet. Thank you! Take this course if you want to be a rare book librarian, it and descriptive bibliography are a must! 8: Definitely. I wish I had known about Rare Book School years ago! Worth every penny ... I'll be back! 9: Yes. It's worth coming back. 10: I don't think I've ever had this much fun learning so much. 11: Definitely. 12: Thank you! I'll be back.
Number of respondents: 12
Institution gave me leave: 67%
I took vacation time: 0%
N/A: self-employed, retired, or had summers off: 33%
Institution paid tuition: 58%
I paid tuition myself: 33%
N/A: self-employed, retired, or scholarship: 8%
Instution paid housing: 50%
I paid for my own housing: 33%
N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home: 17%
Institution paid travel: 42%
I paid my own travel: 42%
N/A: lived nearby: 17%
There were 4 rare book librarians (33%), 1 archivist/manuscript librarian (8%), 1 general librarian with some rare book duties (8%), 1 conservator/binder (8%), 1 paraprofessional rare book librarian and part-time student (8%), 1 full-time student (8%), 1 retired individual (8%), 1 assistant to director of Special Collections (8%), and one unemployed recent graduate (8%).