Susan M. Allen

L-10: Introduction to Special Collections Librarianship

27-31 July 2009




1) How useful were the pre-course readings?


1: Useful. 2: The readings were very useful, although I feel there could have been a few more preparatory readings for participants who were unfamiliar with library terms, &c. 3: The reading on the ethics of the profession and on the typical day of a rare books librarian were in the case of ethics useful and typical day entertaining/well written. The other two readings were less important or interesting. The typical day, however, was the typical day of a director chiefly preoccupied with board members and money. 4: Very useful. 5: The pre-course list was short enough to be manageable, and covered topics which helped "set the stage" for the course itself. Very useful. 6: Adequate. Not great, but okay. 8: Very helpful, maybe even more. 9: They helped to set the "stage." 10: Pre-readings were good. I would have read more if asked. 11: Good—we returned to these on the last day and they were a good way of giving common footing to folks from a variety of backgrounds. 12: The pre-course readings were quite useful and set the tone 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: Very useful. The materials that accompany the syllabus in the course workbook, plus other handouts, will serve as good reference materials, and materials that I can share with my co-workers back home. 2: They were useful for class and will be very useful in the future. 3-4: Yes. 5: The materials, particularly the syllabus/workbook, will become the "go to" reference when I return home. 6: Yes—very good reference material. 7: Yes. 8: Yes, very appropriate, and I will certainly study them once again, when at home. 9: Yes, very much so. 10: The book (course book) will be practical and useful for my professional duties. 11: Yes—I look forward to reading them more closely. 12: Yes. They will be used heavily upon my return.


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: Collection development was most relevant, but fundraising, outreach and exhibit ideas, and book collation were interesting to me personally, and the trip to Monticello was an unexpected bonus. Appreciated the talks by Special Collections staff (catalogers and others). 2: The intellectual level was appropriate and our discussions of outreach, exhibitions, and public services were of great interest. Collation and descriptive bibliography were tremendously helpful and informative. 3: Legal issues were well handled. Exhibitions, education, outreach was important to me. Digitization was very useful. Looking at finding aids and metadata were very good. 4: The entire course. Yes, the intellectual level was appropriate. 5: The "overview" aspect of the course was exactly what I was hoping to get. 6: Exhibition (analog and digital) information was great. Also the donor information was very helpful—especially enjoyed the role playing! 7: Cataloging rare book materials, digitization of materials, collection development. 8: I was particularly interested in collection development and in preservation. The level was fine. Good and helpful discussions. 9: Hands-on content was challenging and useful. 10: The intellectual level was very appropriate. 11: Yes. Cataloging/metadata/open content. 12: Overview of Special Collections librarianship. Security. Visits to other libraries.


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—see above, #3. 2: We saw a lot of different aspects of SC at times appropriate to what we were discussing in class, so the time was well-planned. 3: The trips to Small Library were useful as was the trip to Monticello and the Jefferson archives. The description of catalog processes at Small was less useful—and could have used a projection screen. 4: Yes. 5: Yes! Seeing other libraries and their operations helped me look at my library with a new view. 6: Yes. Monticello and multiple trips to SC at UVA were good—a little dull, maybe—didn't see things that I personally found interesting, but it was worthwhile. 7: Yes, very well spent. 8: Our teacher had certainly a better level of understanding. Monticello is a nice trip, worth going, but adds nothing to the course. The presentation in the Small library was good, but not overwhelming. 9: Yes. 10: Absolutely. I would have liked at least one field trip a day to break up the classroom time. 11: SC: Yes. Monticello: ??—but I'm glad to have seen it. 12: Yes. Monticello and Jefferson library were very interesting.


5) What did you like best about the course?


1: I liked its broad coverage and clear and lively presentation. The broad range of experiences and expertise brought to the class by the other students was also a plus. 2: Collegiality among participants regardless of experience, background, &c. 3: SWA is a very accomplished professional with considerable teaching experience and presented well. The discussion by class members was illuminating and helped vary the pace and delivery. 4: The instructor was very knowledgeable, and managed to convey quite a bit of this to the class. Even touching on lived experiences to emphasize points. 5: SWA was a great and knowledgeable instructor, and I feel will be a great contact in the future. 6: Gave me a good introduction to the SC library language and some of its issues. Enjoyed the role playing and book collating. 7: The tutor took time to explain aspects of the subject, asked questions to ensure that everyone understood and basically took the time to make sure that everyone understood. 8: Good atmosphere, good discussions, all very gently and subtly led by teacher. 9: Hands-on types of sessions. Tours of facilities. 10: SWA. Knowledgeable and informative. 11: Lecture style of our teacher. 12: Class discussions and observations from fellow students.


6) How could the course have been improved?


1: Can't think of anything—but we probably should not have gone all the way downtown for lunch, since it took longer than expected and cut into the last section of instruction. 2: Perhaps more visual aids (to help explain finding aids, metadata). 3: I'm not sure this is possible, but the ways in which the content of books change over time might have been interesting if it could be related to descriptive cataloging or other aspects of rare book work. 6: I would have enjoyed more active learning projects or hands-on things would have been great. 8: One week more? 9: No complaints. 10: More field trips. More hands-on and handling of materials. 11: More hands-on work—collating books was a very good exercise. 12: N/A.


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?


1-2: None. 3: It was adequate. 9: Precautions seemed worthwhile. 10-11: N/A. Once we got our drinks off the table, all was good. I wonder if course readings though (on shelf in our classroom) could have been made available online? (There was no way to access them outside class meetings.) 12: N/A.


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


1: Yes! 2: The two lectures I attended were informative, entertaining, and pertinent to RBS work and subjects. Worth attending. 3: The medicine lecture was particularly interesting and well presented. 5: I attended both the Sunday night and Monday night lectures and enjoyed both. 6: The Monday lecture was disappointing—I wanted to see some cool medical books and stuff—not a history of old men that used to work there. Or at least both. 8: Less than the course itself. 9: I only attended the Sunday evening—I had work which I brought with me to attend to during the week. 10: The evening lecture (medical) was charming and fun. 11: N/A. 12: Yes.


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 I have no advice about the course; however, I think there should be a warning in the preliminary information about the frequency of flight cancellations from Dulles to Charlottesville. If I had known it was not unusual for this part of the trip to be so difficult, I would have made other arrangements and will certainly do so next time I come to RBS. 3: Yes. 4: Yes. The course was very instructive and informative. Leaves you wanting to go further heights in this area of librarianship. 5: Absolutely! And I hope to come again. I would recommend RBS and this course to others. One of the best weeks I've had at any conference/professional venue. And, great fun!! 6: Yes. I'm new to library stuff and this was definitely worth doing. (Thanks, SWA!) 7: Yes, I got the money's worth and would wish to attend again next year. 8: Yes, the course was worth it. I would always recommend it. 9: Yes. I will certainly take another course. 10: Yes. This is a good solid introduction to Special Collections. 11: Brrr. Bring a sweater! 12: Yes. This was a wonderful introduction course. I look forward to future courses.


Number of respondents: 12





Institution gave me leave: 67%

I took vacation time: 17%

N/A: self-employed, retired, or had summers off: 17%



Institution paid tuition: 75%

I paid tuition myself: 8%

N/A: self-employed, retired, or scholarship: 17%



Instution paid housing: 75%

I paid for my own housing: 25%

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



Institution paid travel: 67%

I paid my own travel: 33%

N/A: lived nearby: 0%


There were 1 rare book librarian (8%), 2 archivist/manuscript librarians (17%), 5 general librarian with some rare book duties (42%), 1 full-time student (8%), 1 book arts curator (8%), 1 art publisher (8%), and one Special Collections librarian (8%).