David Gants and Richard Noble

G-10: Introduction to the Principles of Bibliographical Description

3-7 August 2009


1) How useful were the pre-course readings? How successful was the advance use of the DVD, The Anatomy of a Book: Format, as a teaching tool?


1. Gaskell was not so much important as Bowers, in this course, maybe, though of course Gaskell is worth surveying. Specifying three chapters of Bowers in the list was helpful. DVD was fine. I watched it again and again. 2. The pre-course readings were utterly essential. Not only were they interesting and informative, but completing them allowed someone like me—who has absolutely no previous experience with bibliography—to jump right into this intensive course and find the materials comprehensible and the end result rewarding. The videotape was of great use, too. Concepts described in the reading were confusing at times, especially those having to do with format, but the video made them very clear. 3. The Bowers and Gaskell pre-course readings were essential. The other items were somewhat helpful, but not really necessary, in my opinion. 4. Absolutely essential—all of it! 5. Videotape was excellent. 6. All of the readings were useful. The Gaskell and Bowers texts tied together nicely. Gaskell's discussion of printing practices and processes was helpful to read before Bowers. In addition ABC's for Book Collectors printed an excellent overview of the vocabulary required to understand the primary readings. 7. The pre-course readings were essential to successful completion of the course. 8. Terry Belanger's article was absolutely the best introduction. The video is fast-paced and it helps to have reviewed applicable sections of Bowers before viewing it. Then re-reading those sections again is helpful. Gaskell's figures for format are invaluable. 9. Pre-course readings are a necessity for Desbib, and the video was a great help in comprehending the practices of printing and imposition. Formal sheets were very helpful, but highly recommend examining a pre-19th century book in person as you read Gaskell and Bowers. This was crucial to my understanding of the texts. 10. Pre-course readings were helpful. Format videotape was helpful, but could have touched on other aspects we would be encoutering in class (e.g. show an instructor finding watermarks in a book with light, collating and taking notes, writing up collation statement just as a clue as to all that is involved. Format is just 1/5th of a collation statement). 11. The readings were essential. I cannot imagine how anyone could survive this course without reading them before coming. Whatever amount of time you think you need to read Gaskell and Bowers—double it. A careful reading, and time to reread some sections is really necessary, as these texts can be a tough slog. The video helped clear up aspects of folding gatherings that I was having trouble visualizing. 13. Very useful—Bowers and Gaskell were essential reading. The video (and the practice sheets that came with it) were not essential, but were nevertheless very helpful in developing a tactile understanding of book format (an important thing to know when describing a book!). 14. The pre-course readings are essential. I wasn't sure I had a good enough grasp of things before I got here because the readings are difficult, but once things got going and I was able to recognize terms and concepts, I began to feel better. The video was very useful to me. 15. Having the books read before class is a must. The video was very helpful if you have little to no background in the history of printing or book production. 16. Extremely useful! 17. Very useful, though I didn't get to ABC for Book Collectors beforehand. The DVD viewed before reading Gaskell and Bowers was great advance preparation. 18. Advanced readings were essential—we started applying the concepts right away with little additional instruction. I wish someone had told me that the readings would make sense once I had some books in front of me. 19. The pre-course readings were essential. Read Gaskell overall, then the recommended chapters in Bowers. The video was great—it was enormously helpful not only to see the format in "Anatomy" but also the printing and type casting in "Renaissance". 20. The pre-course readings were absolutely necessary for this class. Anatomy of a Book was very helpful to understand the processes being described in Gaskell and Bowers. 21. Viewing the videotape ahead of time was very useful in getting a grasp on basics. The Terry Belanger article as well. Gaskell and Bowers were a bit more impenetrable but given the pace of the one-week course, it's absolutely necessary to have at least looked through them before the first day of class. 22. Bowers, of course, essential. I had also owned and used Gaskell for many years. Careful reading of both is the best you can do to ease yourself through Desbib. The video is helpful, not to mention hilarity of seeing TB in mid-'70s (?). 23. As reiterated in the instructions, a basic grasp of the advance readings was crucial. They are hard going in the abstract, but the grounding is very important when faced with real examples in the books. 24. Bowers fairly impenetrable, but tamed somewhat by instructor. Had previously viewed videotape in earlier RBS class, but good aide memoire. 25. Essential to the class. 26. Necessary reading; the linotype was sufficient, but could have gone a bit more into signatures!


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


1. They are very useful. It might be even better if some small photos or illustrations of museum items were printed together with the text. 2. Yes, I found everything useful, especially the workbook and the museum book useful. The exit list will provide me with other avenues of investigation as well. 3. The exit reading list and museums guide should be extremely useful in future. They were immediately useful in that they saved one the time of writing down notes and references (and we were pressed for time as it was!). 4. Yes. 5. Will be in future. 6. The exit reading list will be particularly useful. One element that is particularly good is the recommended readings order. The course workbook and museum guide were very helpful throughout this course. Each provided extensive examples and resources that I will reference in the future. 7. Yes. A lot of work has obviously gone into preparing the class and the materials. 8. Absolutely. The "museums" material/examples were especially helpful. 9. The syllabus and reading list have been and will remain fantastic resources that I will refer back to at home. The bibliographic description records from lab sessions are most useful as examples of style in descriptive bibliography, as well as the note sections which provide useful information on bibliographic judgment in a variety of situations. 10. Yes, all materials helpful, especially for future investigation. 11. First, a minor complaint—I wish they had been issued in a binder, since comb-bound books are hard to use and fall apart over time and use. Which is important because I know I will be using them heavily. They were extremely helpful during the course, and will be a great reference tool in my work. 12. Yes. The exit reading list will be a valuable resource in order for me to continue my education independently at this time. 13. Very useful. The examples of bibliography descriptions in the museum workbook, as well as the digest of collation do's and don'ts in the lab workbook, both helped me immensely in my homework. 14. Absolutely, and I will keep them at my desk at work. 15. I thought that the course materials were very useful. Though I would have liked more structure within the "lecture" section. If it is possible to add to the workbook I would recommend including an outline for each lecture. 16. Yes! 17. I think they will be useful for future reference—contain information I don't think would be easy to find compiled elsewhere. 18-19. Yes. 20. Yes. Everything was useful. Particularly the exit reading list. 21. The syllabus and museums packet were both very useful. I haven't looked at the exit reading list much yet, but I anticipate using it in the weeks to come. 22. Yes, absolutely. I am grateful for them and will definitely use them in the future. I won the Tanselle syllabus, but equally value this winnowed-down version for cutting through the clutter. 23. The apparatus for the course was very useful during the week, and will continue to be so after my return. 24. Yes. 25. Yes, an excellent resource for further study as well as a source for acquisitions for our library. 26. 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. Lecture, museum, and lab sessions, all of them were stimulating. But it was probably lab sessions that was most useful. The instructor gave us some really useful practical advice that was not in Bowers or Gaskell. The level is appropriate, but I wanted much more time to do homework and to see items in the museum. 2. For my part, I came here with no experience in bibliography or the description of printed books. My background is in medieval literature, so I had some knowledge of paleography and manuscript description, but I wanted to round out my knowledge a bit before pursuing more actively a course—and hopefully a career—in the area of rare book librarianship. But I am also of a scholarly turn of mind; I hope to never stop studying and learning and researching. This course opened up an area or a realm in which my two aims are somewhat co-mingled. The general intro to the subject and the intensive application of concepts allowed, I think, for a fairly good perspective, which was just what I wanted. 3. The labs were the most useful part of the course: they were interesting, relevant, well-organized, and level-appropriate. The post-lab handouts will be a useful reminder of points of bibliographic contention (interesting arguments over method we had as a cohort). The lectures gave a good survey of basic principles, but I would have liked to have heard more practical tips from the instructors: e.g. how exactly do they take notes when out in the field? 4. Constructing collation statements and learning how to make use of and/or reference to Bowers and Gaskell efficaciously. 5. High intellectual level—in particular RN's and DG's lectures and GC's patience and teaching skills in format-and-collation labs. 6. The course was quite challenging, appropriately so. In particular, I was most interested in learning how to effectively identify descriptive elements in books, and in translating this description into accurate statements. I was also interested in learning more regarding the mechanical processes that produced books. 7. The museums, homework and lab sessions were the most useful/interesting. 8. The labs for reviewing homework, and the museums—museums were an opportunity to enrich/expand upon topics of interest. 9. The final discussion on the current state of bibliography was particularly interesting and relevant to me as a newcomer to the field. I found the intellectual level of the course to be entirely appropriate. 10. The 'nuts and bolts' of writing out a collation statement were of most interest and relevance. Intellectual level was appropriate. 11. The intellectual level was certainly challenging, but achievable. Learning how to read and write collational formulae will be very useful in my cataloging work. 12. The collation process allowed me to obtain a skill and with that and the overall content of the course it has opened up a new realm of possibility in my interests and potential future educational goals. The level of intellectual exposure was both stimulating and challenging. 13. The intellectual level was appropriate—challenging enough to keep you focused, yet not so much as to make you despair. The homework and lab sessions, together, were the essential part of this course for me. 14. I needed to know how to look at rare books in a more sophisticated way and I have definitely achieved that. The intellectual content is high, but appropriate. 15. Yes the intellectual level was appropriate. I found the homework and the lab sessions most interesting. They helped me ground my theoretical knowledge with practical work. 16. Yes! The Desbib Museum was most beneficial. 17. Learning in detail how books were made and distributed in the hand press period—learning what questions I could ask about these books for my own research. Yes. 18. The intellectual level was appropriate; occasionally, I was unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary used, in spite of all the pre-reading. Gaining access to the collection and the various ways our instructors used Desbib was of greatest interest. 19. What and how physical evidence is used in Desbib. 20. The lab sessions were very helpful for putting all the theory into practice. 21. I found the hands-on homework and lab portion of the course to be most useful. The lectures, while entertaining, were not as detailed or in-depth as I'd anticipated. DG and RN both have a lot of expertise and insight into the subject of Desbib, but I fear that we only saw "the tip of the iceberg". 22. Being able to describe a book (any book) in a complete and standard manner. 23. I was equally interested in the foundational theory as in the practical workshops. I needed both for my future projects. 24. Homework (format, collation, &c.) was of greatest relevance to my work. Intellectual level appropriate. 25. Nuts and bolts of collation, signing and pagination will be most useful—but the museums were great for an overview of books and book production. 26. Lab work; intellectual level was sufficient.


4) To what extent did the Desbib Museums and their catalogs contribute to the success of the course? How could they have been improved?


1. Items were great. You cannot imagine seeing and touching them all in one room, in my country. As I wrote above, it might be better if illustrations or photos were added to the catalog. 2. I found the museums a wonderful experience—there really is no equal to being able to look at and investigate examples of things about which one had only been taught. 3. The museums were extremely helpful in making vocabulary, and other abstractions, more real. Some catalog entries were shorter than others—it was the ones that didn't give us much direction about what to look for at the station that could use some improvement. There's not a lot of time per station, so specific directions/questions are really helpful. 4. It is essential to have examples of paper, printing surfaces, &c. to hold and examine in one's hands, especially for stereotype and electrotype plates. 5. Good contribution, in particular Thursday afternoon session which provided overview presentations and allowed me to focus on four or five of my main fields of interest. 6. I cannot think of an aspect that could be improved. The museums were very helpful and interesting. It was useful to see and engage with the processes and elements that were used in producing the books that are examined and described. 7. The museums were outstanding—apart from actually collating, they were the most useful aspect of the course. 8. Essential for moving beyond theory—seeing paper, print, and bibliography examples of anomalies adds a richer element. 9. The museum catalogs are a wonderful education tool and I will use it as a supplement to the reading list. It contains a wealth of references to useful books on bibliography, typography, paper, &c. 10. Museums were integral to success of course and good reinforcements to lectures and labs. 11. The museum catalogs were very helpful for prioritizing my time in the museum, which was important because they were a bit overwhelming. It was hard to devote as much to them as they deserved. They were wonderfully arranged by MM, and she was very responsive to questions, and interested in improving the museums to meet student needs and interests. 12. It was very helpful to see various examples of bibliographies. Moreover, I enjoyed the Paper and Printing Museum which provided a more well-rounded approach to understanding descriptive bibliography. 13. The museums were a fascinating enrichment of the course. No suggestions for improvement—I particularly enjoyed the self-directed aspect of the museum sessions—I could spend as much or as little time at a station as I wished. 14. I enjoyed the museums because I learn better when I have real-life examples of what I'm studying. 15. The museums were my least favorite part of the course. I enjoyed the chance to look at the materials and I enjoyed the interactive part of the museum, but I thought that the way they were presented to the class could have been different. It was very difficult to fill 1.5 hours in the museum and I would have appreciated more contextual information on the exhibits. 16. Outstanding! Don't change a thing—outstanding as it is. 17. Tangibly illustrated the concepts we learned about—helped set them in my mind. A little more discussion/pointers about what might be of interest beforehand. 18. Museums were essential—to give examples regarding the objects and the descriptions of collation. Also, the exercises were both interesting and informative. (Personally, the museum on bibliographies were less useful for me, but I could see their value for others' work.) I wish the "Paper Gone Wrong" objects had more descriptions about what went wrong. I also wish some terms had been defined in the Museum descriptions—I didn't always have ABCs for Book Collecting with me. 19. They were very good. Pictures in the catalog, to the extent possible, might help with retention of the museum content. 20. They were very helpful in looking at examples of books, paper, vellum, bindings, type &c. after having discussed them in class. 21. All four museum sessions were very good and the number of exhibits was largely appropriate. I was able to view all of the exhibits in the time allotted for the first three sessions, and most of the exhibits I wished to see in the final session. 22. The museums were differently successful. I found the bibliography one oddly useful and compelling. The different examples of ways to print plates (engraving, mesotint, &c.) not so much so, as we didn't really talk about that. I loved the teach-yourself-at-your-own-pace structure of museums. 23. It is often helpful to look at live examples, especially if one is a visual learner. I found the final presentation by individual course and lab instructors very useful; if some of that personal interest and passion could be folded into earlier museums, I would have been more able to concentrate on what was important about each object. 24. Museums and catalogs very systematic. Covered much material with which I was familiar, but great resource if such was not true for you. 25. Museums were great—not enough time to fully appreciate their content. 26. Very interesting in experience, but often took too much time away from our homework.


5) How successful were your format-and-collation labs? How effective was your lab instructor in conveying the material to be covered? How could the labs have been improved?


Christopher Adams: 1. CA was punctual, kind, and made us very relaxed. He answered any questions and gave us some valuable practical information to analyze books. But, folios are a little bit too...tiresome maybe. 2. The labs were really the area I found the most challenging as well as most rewarding; I come away from them now with what I feel is a somewhat firm grasp of the basic principles of the format-and-collation part of book description, as well as a notion that with more experience I could become somewhat proficient. Most of this was due to CA, who was so helpful—very supportive and encouraging, so that I wasn't discouraged by my mistakes. He was also knowledgeable and meticulous in making sure that everyone understood everything he explained, which was easy to do! Gerald Cloud: 3. I really enjoyed the format-and-collation labs. GC was great, both in helping us dissect the books and in leading discussion on tangential (but bibliographical) topics when we had time remaining. I just wish we'd had more lab, more books to do. My cohort was well chosen—I felt our discussions helped clarify difficult material: they were substantive. 4. 100% successful—there is no other way. GC is an excellent guide. I especially liked that he dove in to the book with us and we worked out the problems, puzzles and related questions together. 5. For me, moderately successful; instructor was outstanding. My first career restricted time I had for preparation—especially any opportunity to read Bowers and Gaskell in depth. 6. GC did an excellent job of conveying a complex and technical subject in a clear and concise manner. He also provided thoughtful and thorough feedback. As a lab cohort we walked through and studied difficult aspects of the books we reviewed. The labs were very effective. 7. The labs were very successful and our instructor was wonderful. I would have preferred more challenging books, but I got a lot out of the work we did. Our instructor was very effective at teaching and we had quite a few interesting discussions. 8. GC—very helpful, knowledgeable. It was evident that the lab instructors were well-prepared and well-versed in how to convey format and collation correctly and without singling out "stupid" errors. Vernica Downey: 9. Labs were a crucial component of the course. Our lab instructor was very good at answering specific questions although in many cases it would have been a help to everyone if answer sheets were distributed as we went over each book rather than afterward. 10. Labs were very successful. Lab instructor was very good and patient and willing to explain difficulties. She answered questions also about what she does on a daily basis in her professional job and pointed us to good resource. If she did not know the answer to something she found out and got back to us. 11. The labs were the heart of the course to me. VD was an excellent teacher, who was patient with our mistakes and detailed (but clear) in her explanations. The practice of putting us into very small groups of people with similar interests helped make lab time effective, since we tended to have similar questions. 12. My lab instructor was knowledgeable and patient. She was approachable and entertained theoretical discussion. A suggestion on improvement would be allowing time with the books to reference again after discussion and receiving the record of the format and collation. 13. The labs were key to my grasping the nuts and bolts of collation. VD was a patient and very helpful instructor, offering helpful explanations and researching and reporting back on the more complex questions we posed. 14. Very successful, very effective. The best part of the course. Haven Hawley: 15. The labs were wonderful; they helped me develop confidence in my skills and provided the perfect amount of constructive criticism. 16. Lab was outstanding! 17. Very successful—I had good partners in my lab so the intellectual level was high. This was also encouraged by HH, who is very effective at explaining complex concepts in an easily understandable and engaging way and of course really knows her stuff. I feel I was quite lucky to have the lab I had. 18. I wish we had had more examples of some of the oddities. I also think folks must be told that the homework takes most of the evening—students who didn't know that were shocked—I think it should be specifically cited in the admission letters/course description. (It can be found in evaluations from previous years.) I also think it would be helpful for students to know that they shouldn't expect to get all the collation perfect—many folks who are interested in this course have Type A personalities and the result can be quite stressful. Seeing the homework as basis for lab discussion rather than a "test" is much more helpful. 19. 1. Very. 2. Very. 3. Use four books and focus on them instead of rushing through six. 20. The labs were one of the reasons I took this course, to get hands-on experience. My lab instructor was great, very knowledgeable and amiable. The 3:1 student instructor ratio was great. Eileen Smith: 21. The labs were excellent. It would be nice if they could be either 30 minutes longer or if we had one fewer book per session. 22. The homework and labs are really the core of the course. There is a huge commitment of time but working with the books is really where the learning gets done. Our lab instructor (ES) was more effective at conveying information than the lectures. 23. My lab instructor was very good, helpful and knowledgeable. She made sure that she answered our inevitable "why" questions. Corrections were offered in a positive, learning manner. 24. Very successful. Excellent and helpful instructor. Did feel rushed to get through books. 25. Labs were good for answering questions. Non-threatening size. Too many books! Or books too long. Is it really necessary to work on a 500 page book? I could learn the same things with a 400 page sample. 26. Yes, very effective. Less books on Wednesday, with more time spent on analysis.


6) What did you like best about the course?


1. It's practical. 2. I think—as crazy as it might sound—I liked the homework the best. I'm by nature a perfectionist—and am often driven to the overly meticulous notation of detail. I found the work of constructing statements to be difficult, but ultimately very rewarding. I also gained an understanding of how this seemingly esoteric and highly theoretical activity does indeed have practical applications to the study of literature, history, texts and what have you. I also enjoyed the very informative and entertaining lectures by the instructors. 3. The best part of the course was the labs: getting to work with the RBS collection, and then discuss my findings with other motivated, enthusiastic students, as well as our instructors. 4. The labs; I also liked/appreciated RN's and DG's observations/speculations on the history of bibliography. 5. RN's dry humor; GC's modesty and dedication to guiding us accurately; being in midst of committed cohorts. 6. I felt all of the primary aspects of the course—labs, museum sessions, and lectures, were excellent. 7. Collating! (And discussing collations.) 8. Labs and discussions. 9. RN's lectures and homework/lab time. 10. The lab sessions and museum exhibits. 11. The balance among homework, lab, lecture and museum each day. The homework and labs are the heart of the course, where the technical skills are learned. The lectures and museums put those skills in context. Plus hearing DG and RN is a pleasure in itself, especially since their different approaches and backgrounds provide an interesting view of the subject. 12. I looked forward to the labs each day to see if the work I had done was correct and I found the museums to be engaging as well. 13. Strangely, the homework. It was grueling, but it really made the principles stick. 14. Homework (though exhausting) and the labs. 15. The homework and labs. 16. The quantity and quality of material and instruction was extraordinary! 17. The lab. 18. The examples in the museum and the passion of the instructors. 19. The chance to interact with the lab instructor. The small group made it easy to ask questions! HH was excellent! 20. Everything. RN and DG's lectures, the collation experiences in the labs, the museum visits and of course all the fellow book people to talk to. 21. Working with the actual books to apply the Bower skills we were studying; meeting in small cohorts with our lab instructor to go over our attempts at desbib. 22. The homework. I really did lose myself in it. 23. Best for me was the exposure to the subject, leavened with the practical application of the principles. 24. Homework. 25. Hands-on time with material and intellectual challenge. 26. Professional, scholarly presentations and discussions.


7) How could the course as a whole have been improved?


2. I found this course to be just as the course description on the RBS website presented it—and just what I wanted it to be, and if I am sleep deprived, it is for a good cause. 3. I wish that there had been an option to order box lunches or dinners for Mon-Wed. Time was tight, and so we all split up, ran out for food separately, and hurried back. I would have preferred to have something quickly just outside the library with other Desbibsters (also giving me more of a chance to socialize with people outside my cohort) and then get right back to the books. 4. It might be useful to make the "catch-up" lab a time for the cohorts of both legions to gather together and discuss one book of special interest from each cohort. 5. Overall as a whole, cannot be improved. Modest suggestion: giving students opportunity to review workbook, bluebook and Vade Mecum a week before first class may help some. 6. N/A. 7. I felt that some of the lectures, in particular the Monday lecture, covered material I already knew from the pre-course readings. 8. Final lecture on Friday was a bit disappointing—only about ten minutes of real value of an hour and a half sitting. Most disappointing and physically uncomfortable. 9. The course might be improved by the opportunity to compare two or more copies of the same book as this seems fundamental to the practice of bibliography. 10. As mentioned in #1 above I would have liked to have seen more 'hands-on' demonstrations of actual 'collation-in-action'. A good model might be (though I know it might be too expensive) to produce, say two sets of facsimile books: photocopies of the pages, double-sided, bound together, &c., no more than around 30 to 50 pp. each: one with few complications and the other with many complications. Pass these out in the second day of lectures (after we have given it a try ourselves the first homework night) to all the students; have them write a collation statement; but then the instructor page-by-page, signature-by-signature goes through the books and speaks aloud their thought processes, &c. to generate two correct collation statements. It was nice to get an answer sheet after we had done the homework and discussed in lab, but our repetitive failures without a professional model performing the mechanics just becomes/begets repetitive failures. Think of it this way: a printer would not let an apprentice waste all of his paper with repeated failed attempts before too long stepping in and showing 'how to'. 11. The only thing I'd improve is putting the class packet in a binder. Of course I felt I needed more time; but that would be impractical, both for RBS and me. 12. I was satisfied with the course, my instructors and lab instructor. It was well organized and challenging while the material was presented in a comprehensive manner. 13. Perhaps have us collate five books in the homework sessions instead of six? 14. I can't think of any way to improve it. It's such a well-oiled machine as it is! 16. No improvement needed—outstanding as is! 17. Some quick and basic introductions, for instance to the tools in the toolkit and how they're used and why. 18. The last session of Desbib—I wish it had been more interactive between instructors themselves or among the class—perhaps a "staging" of Bowers and Gaskell rather than simply reading commentary. 19. The course is excellent! One suggestion—please, please find another format for the Friday afternoon session other than reading all those articles aloud!! Any other format would be better. A PowerPoint, a chart, anything. I could not follow along at all with which academic was making what argument about what desbib point and it was a horrible way to end such a great class. 20. I'm not sure how it could be improved unless you could fit more hours into the day. 21. Ideally, I would turn Desbib into a two-week course. This would allow for more in-depth treatment of printing practices, the history of bibliography itself, &c. (I realize that this is probably impossible.) 22. The lectures could be refocused on systematically conveying a body of material. The format and content is a little too anecdotal. Though charming, it does leave one wondering if one had learned everything they need to know. 23. There is so much to be covered, it is difficult to enjoy the process. However, it would take a total overhaul—more time—to make it different. 24. Lectures discursive—as such, would prefer perhaps more discussion with class, more examples, more visuals. 25. Slightly more instruction at beginning—maybe 1/2 hour with lab person to go over first book and what expectations are and methods to use. One or two fewer books per night. 26. More time is necessary for labs and lab work. Perhaps 12 books would have been more effective.


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


1. I wanted to see digital edition on screen. 2. I thought the Monday lecture was informative. I have little experience with digital encoding and indeed little knowledge of it, but I thought the lecturer presented the concepts in such a way that even a neophyte like myself was given food for thought. The Sunday lecture by Terry Belanger was very worth attending because of his wonderful overview of the program as well as the rationale behind it—also an enjoyable speech even if given as many times as he says! 3. The lectures were informative and worth attending, though I would have liked to have seen more specific examples from the Monday lecture, which was regrettably slide-free. The lectures were great discussion starters for the receptions following. 4. Yes—always. 5. Yes. 6. The Monday night lecture on digital editions was interesting, particularly in the context of this course. 8. Yes. However, homework took priority, so I only attended two. 9. Yes, although I regret not having time to attend the RBS open library session on Wednesday (?) Night in Alderman 119. 10. Yes, lectures were worth attending. 11. It's always a pleasure to hear TB's Sunday night lecture. I feel rather privileged to have heard his last one as RBS director. The Monday night lecture was very interesting, as it's an area of interest to me. It would have been improved only by providing a further reading list on the topic. 12. Yes. I found that evening programs were interesting and provided a broader range of education than the course alone. 13. The Sunday night lecture (TB's) was instructive and entertaining; the Monday lecture a bit of—to use DG's favorite term—a data dump, so I'm not sure I took that much away from it. 14. The Sunday lecture is a great way to orient yourself and get ready for the week, especially when it's your first time at RBS. 15. Yes the lectures were worthwhile. They helped to place the class within the larger context of the rare books field/community. 16. Yes! 17. Yes, but required focus late in what could be a rather long day. 18. Yes. 19. Sunday—yes. Monday—listening to people literally read a paper is not very helpful or useful. 20. The Sunday and Monday lectures were both worth attending. 21. The tour of campus on Sunday was definitely worth the hour spent. The Monday night lecture was interesting, but rather overshadowed by the amount of homework awaiting me. Perhaps the traditional Monday lectures should be shifted to Tuesday nights (when everyone seemed to get their homework completed earlier)? 22. I attended TB's opening remarks, and did not find them as compelling as last year's. I also attended the Monday lecture (Andrew Stauffer) and found it very good (caveat: I have worked in xml tei text encoding for more than 5 years; I can see that it could easily have been baffling). 23. The lectures were informative and interesting, well worth attending. 24. Between lectures, museums and homework, found little focus in evenings for more information absorption. A very full sponge. 25. Sunday—not helpful. Monday—interesting view of field that I would not have encountered elsewhere in my daily routine. 26. Yes.


9) If you attended any of the Museum Nights, printing demonstrations, &c., was the time profitably spent?


1. I didn't attend them. 2. I attended very few evening events because of the demands of the homework, though I did get to bookseller's night which was very fun, and I particularly loved the printing demonstration by HH. 3. I enjoyed Bookseller Night and was surprised to find several useful books for my work hiding in the shops (which I promptly purchased)! 4. Yes, the Monday lecture was worthwhile. 5. Some study night work helped, but for me the tension was fighting exhaustion of a hard day of work. 6. The homework sessions were particularly useful. This additional time was useful in performing a thorough review of the books that we reviewed. 8. See above. 9. Night time was for homework, every night except Thursday (bookseller night). This was a lovely diversion. 10. Yes, especially printing demo. 11. I was able to see only one video, the one of the last linotype edition of the NYT, which was enjoyable. Otherwise, homework occupied all my evening time. But I expected that. 12. Yes. As I mentioned above these events incorporated the opportunity to explore other areas relevant to my interests other than the course itself and in certain aspects expanded upon the subject area of the course. 13. The homework tended to intrude on these activities, alas. However, as I said before, the homework was worth it. (Just wish I had more time to eat dinner!) 14. N/A. 15. Study night was great especially if you have particular research interests in mind. 16. Yes! 17. Yes. 18. I worked most nights doing homework. 19. Video night—yes. 20. I didn't attend. I was still doing homework until late each evening. 21. The printing demonstration was wonderful. Admittedly, I didn't attend video night even though I was very tempted by some of the offerings. 22. I attended part of movie night. It was better than sitting alone in my room. But not really relevant to Desbib. 23. N/A. 25. N/A. 26. Yes.


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. Yes, it was worth it. For other persons: get fully familiar with chapters 5, 11, and 12 [of Bowers]. 2. I definitely got my money's worth with this. Really, this experience has been one of the best—from an academic and personal standpoint—that I've had in a very long time. I've learned a lot, not only about bibliography, but about how my own academic aspirations line up with this area of study. It's been a while since I put my hand to something for which I felt so suited and in which I felt so rewarded. I think anyone whose outlook coincides with mine would be hard-pressed to come away from this course—and RBS more generally—dissatisfied. 3. As a scholarship student I got considerably (infinitely) more than my money's worth. I wish I had been able to take this class sooner. 4. Yes, certainly: the course is intensive, as it should be. RN, DG and the lab instructors all "imposed up" to a high level of discourse. The hands-on labor was good for one's soul. Your practice and preparation will pay off! 5. Absolutely. The program was exhausting, but among the top learning experiences of my life. The excellent blend of lectures, lab work and museum hands-on experience was masterful. My real homework and post-graduate studies now begin. 6. A thorough review of Bowers is critical. Reading through, in particular, chapters 5 and 7 several times over, would be helpful. It might also be helpful to keep a note card noting page numbers to key references; those will be helpful in completing homework. 7. Definitely—I would recommend the course to anyone who asked me about it. My advice: take the class! If you want to understand the physical book and how to describe it, you couldn't ask for a better course. 8. You truly must so some pre-reading especially TB's article, Gaskell's diagrams, and Bower's collation. You truly will spend at least two hours, probably three, of homework Monday-Wednesday. I highly recommend several glasses of wine Sunday night because you'll be too tired to imbibe again until Thursday. 9. Absolutely. Descriptive Bibliography has been an incredibly useful course that has provided me with a foundation upon which to move forward with both studies and work in the field. I highly recommend this course to anyone looking to get his/her feet wet in the study of the book. 11. It's absolutely worth the money, and then some. Advice? Don't panic. The readings may well shake your confidence. It will make sense over the course of the week. The instructors are all very dedicated to making sure of that. 12. This has been an amazing experience. I would indeed recommend this course for persons that express interest in this area and I plan to return to RBS in the future to attend other courses offered. 13. Did I get my money's worth? Absolutely. My advice? Read Bowers once, Gaskell once, and then read Bowers again. 14. RBS is definitely worth the money. I like to think that not only have I benefitted professionally and personally from this experience, but that my institution will benefit as well. 15. Yes definitely!! 16. Yes! Thanks to everyone involved for an extraordinary course!! 17. Yes. If you stay on the Lawn, bring earplugs—I was glad I did! If in the future I attended a session where we needed to switch accommodation the final night, I would definitely try to fly home Friday evening. I think the switch probably = just as much hassle as getting to the airport after the closing of the session. 18. I think this is a great foundational course. Do the reading, but don't sweat it if you don't understand it all—it will become (more) clear. 19. Yes!! Take it! You'll learn so much more than you think you will! 20. I definitely got my money's worth. The course is worth all the effort. Advice for future students is to make sure they have read everything thoroughly before arriving, as you are thrown into it on Day 1. 21. Unfortunately, I think I will only have gotten "my money's worth" if my instructors continue to tutor me on their own time. I feel that I had learned a lot in one week's time, but I by no means feel confident to independently create a descriptive bibliography at this time. Luckily, I feel that ES will so indulge me to some extent, but it seems unfair to place that burden solely on the instructors. Maybe there should be an "Intermediate Desbib" course? 22. Considering the enormous number of teaching staff and mountain of artifacts, it certainly was worth the money. For students attending RBS for the first time and not certain about Descriptive Bibliography, I recommend highly Whitesell's Bibliographer's Toolkit, which is Desbib lite. It covers a lot of the same ground in an introductory fashion. 23. The schedule is brutal, not for the faint of heart. Don't expect to sightsee, socialize or feel that you spent a week on vacation. 24. Yes. Useful to look carefully at interesting book examples before coming, if possible. 25. Money's worth—absolutely. Only advice is what everyone else says. Come prepared and expect to put in long hours. 26. Yes. None.


Number of respondents: 26





Institution gave me leave: 58%

I took vacation time: 7%

N/A: self-employed, retired, or had summers off: 35%



Institution paid tuition: 38%

I paid tuition myself: 35%

N/A: self-employed, retired, or scholarship: 27%



Instution paid housing: 46%

I paid for my own housing: 50%

N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home: 4%



Institution paid travel: 42%

I paid my own travel: 54%

N/A: lived nearby: 4%


There were 5 rare book librarians (19%) 2 archivists/manuscript librarians (7%), 4 general librarians with some rare book duties (15%), 2 general librarians with no rare book duties (7%), 5 full-time students (19%), 2 conservators/binders/preservation librarians (7%), 2 book collectors (7%), 1 recent grad school graduate (4%), 1 part-time student and freelance cataloger (4%), and 1 rare book curator (4%).