Sue Allen

B-90: Publisher's Bookbindings, 1830-1910

6-10 June 2011



1)      How useful were the pre-course readings? (Leave blank if you applied and were accepted late for the course, and thus did not get the list in time.)


1: Very helpful—they made a lot of information familiar when presented, and that really helped. 2: Essential for gaining a background and preparation for SA's lectures. 3: Very. 4: I found the pre-course readings to be extremely useful. They provided an excellent framework for the week's lectures. 5: Very useful. 6: Useful overview of field. Classmates are already so knowledgeable that studying/reading in advance is a bit of a must to keep up. 7: Greatly added to the digestion of the great amount of material in class (though the class material itself was clearly presented). 8: Very useful. I gained a good solid background in the subject that I was glad for. 9: The pre-course readings were not only useful but really necessary in order to come to class prepared to discuss the topic. 10: Very useful! I wish more of the items were still in print and available for purchase, but I was able to find everything and definitely enjoyed the readings. 11: Extremely useful. As always, the more reading I do, the more I get out of the class! 12: Strongly recommend doing all of the pre-course readings. All were drawn upon heavily. Even Parnassus Corner proved to be exceedingly helpful to have on board.



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: Workbook presented on last day, it will be helpful to follow up. 2: Yes. 3: We just got the workbooks, so I don't know. 4: Yes! Yes! Yes! I'm sure I will be consulting my notes, the workbook and the extensive bibliography again and again. 5: Yes. I'm sure to consult the materials in the future in my professional work. 6: We did not use the workbook in class. Reproduction values diminish future use, perhaps. 7: Yes. 8: I will definitely use the course materials at home, particularly the bibliography, which is extensive and excellent. 9: The workbook and bibliography will be indispensible in my continued research of publisher's bindings. 10: Our workbook was distributed on the last day, but it's more of a reference. I will definitely keep it! 11: Yes. 12: Have only just received them so can't judge, but I expect to return to my notes repeatedly.



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 about the great detail involved in the design, and learning about specific engravers. 2: The opportunity to examine closely many examples of different bindings was invaluable. 3: The later periods, especially transition from 1880s to 1890s. Intellectual level was good. Could have skipped Wednesday's repetition of info learned in previous two days. 4: I really enjoyed the lectures and hands on examples passed around throughout the week. Yes, the intellectual level was appropriate. 5: All the content was of relevance and interest for me, and engaged my intellect. 6: Great detail. Hands-on sessions are essential. 7: Establishing a framework for thinking about the subject, and then ample filling of the outline and creating a sense of how my study can proceed. 8: I enjoyed it all—the entire history of bookbinding fascinates me and now I've had the luxury of studying one chapter in that history thoroughly. 9: The later decades (1880s-1910) were most relevant to my library's collection but I was interested and fascinated by all of the time span, and now have an even greater appreciation for the earlier decades, thanks to SA's instruction. 10: Now that I know so much more about the historical significance of publisher's bindings—from the binder to the engraver to the publisher and artist-designer—I will be able to make much better and more informed conservation treatment decisions. I'll also be able to better justify more time-consuming treatments. 11: The intellectual level was appropriate. I really liked hearing SA's opinions and analysis of techniques and design. 12: All, in different ways. The course proves the value of delving deeply into a more confined space. See below.



4)    What did you like best about the course?



1: Seeing first-hand the wonderful examples owned by the RBS. 2: SA's genuine enthusiasm and vast expertise are both the very best aspects of this course. 3: I really liked seeing the great landmark works of American literature at Special Collections, after learning about binding styles for different periods. That really showed me how valuable this knowledge is. 4: SA. 5: The opportunity to see first-hand many examples of the work that we discussed. 6: SA and her expertise and verve! Also loved McGregor room hands-on tutorial. 7: The instructor's understanding and passion. 8: The chance to learn from the person who started this field of inquiry—absolutely invaluable. 9: SA is so enthusiastic about the subject that she really gave me an even greater appreciation for these bindings than I already had. She is an absolute treasure and I feel honored to have been in her class. 10: SA is such an amazing teacher. The joy and enthusiasm that she brings to the class made it such a worthwhile experience. She is incredibly knowledgeable about everything, and so kind in sharing her knowledge and excitement. 11: My favorite sessions were when we picked books, described them according to the worksheet, then presented them to SA and the class. I also liked the model books idea. 12: SA. Very much appreciated the careful situating of these artifacts in their period. Meticulous "contextualization" from the first five minutes onward. SA's perfectly chosen descriptive words and phrases. She often conveys in one word or one three-word phrase the essence of an object or phenomenon.



5)     Did the instructor(s) successfully help you to acquire the information and skills that the course was intended to convey?

1: Yes, she really went to great depths to teach us the information. 2: Yes, SA presented the information and then she (and Vince) provided examples, to reinforce. 3: Yes. 4: Very much so. 5: Absolutely. 6: Yes. Vince was also a master of management and knowledge about his class. 7: Yes. 8: YES! 9: Very much so. 10: YES. SA could not have been more wonderful—enthusiastic, accessible, and absolutely brilliant. 11: Yes. 12: SA is amazing—no other word for her. Her depth of understanding of the cultural texture from which these books arose is rich. She fearlessly expresses her opinions, which, whether or not you agree with them, are invariably well-founded and add immeasurably to understanding and the atmosphere of give and take in the class.



6)     Did you learn what the course description/advertisements indicated you would  

        learn?         Y  /  N


1-2: Yes. 3: Wish there had been more comprehensive chronological survey of British binding styles. 4-5: Yes. 6: Yes. The American bias was unexpected but understandable. 7: Yes. 8: Yes. THANK YOU! 9: Yes. 10: Yes. I can point out an 1870s publisher's binding from several yards away! 11: Yes. 12: Yes. That and far more. I learned to appreciate the "feel" of the cultures and people who produced this work. To respect the labor and struggles—on all levels—of the expression of the spirit of these times and people.


7)    Did you learn what you wanted to learn in the course?


1: Yes, it made me appreciate these items so much more. 2: Yes. 3: Yes, but wanted more British. 4: Yes. I learned what I wanted to learn and more. 5: Yes. Yes! And more! 6: Yes. I know heaps more than when I arrived. Mission accomplished. 7: Yes. 8: Yes. THANK YOU! 9: Yes. 10: Yes. It was so useful to have the hands-on experience of learning through SA's lecture and slides, and to then be able to view the actual books and see the characteristics described. 11: Yes. I was hoping to have a better understanding of what I'm seeing when I look at publisher's bookbindings. This course exceeded that expectation. 12: Yes. And much more.


8)     How do you intend to use or apply the knowledge or skills learned in this course?


1: I have many books from this period in my collection. It will help to better understand and teach/exhibit them. 2: I now have a very good grounding in C19 American bindings that I can use when teaching classes in Special Collections, where I work. 3: I will be able to answer questions about books' styles while teaching, will incorporate more bindings into exhibitions, will argue for certain conservation treatments at my institution. 4: I would like to create an instructional course for fellow staff members and students that would teach them to be able to distinguish and appreciate the variances in publisher's bookbindings. I would also like to create a small exhibit in our library, highlighting some of the stack's hidden gems. 5: Daily in my professional work. 6: In teaching, research, and collecting. 7: In my own teaching and collecting. 8: I would one day (if I'm ever good enough) like to make a contribution to research in this field. 9: I will apply the knowledge while cataloguing, exhibiting, and teaching others about our collection of publisher's bindings. 10: I am going to be able to better advocate for less invasive, more informed conservation treatment for publisher's bindings. Most libraries that I've worked for only move pre-1820s books to Special Collections, and I think publisher's bindings deserve a more elevated status! 11: Mostly for a greater appreciation for this period of book history but also to better analyze my institution's collection. 12: Will inform my work for Studies in Bibliography and my own collecting.



9)     How could the course have been improved? If you have a suggestion for a new course (and—equally important— a person who could teach it), please contact the RBS Program Director.



1: I'm hard-pressed to suggest how the course could be improved. 2: Not sure. 4: No. 5: I have no suggestions for improvement. 6: There is no need for change in the course, although the rare books visit was so great that we could have done that twice. 7: It was helpful to have tags identifying relevant features of the books we passed around. Because there often was a time lag between the instructor's introduction and the examination of books by people at the end of the line, it would be useful to have such slips in all the books. 8: Not at all. 9: I would like to have had the workbook earlier but, other than that, cannot think of a single way it could have been improved. 10: It was wonderful—SA and Vince are fantastic. 11: Perhaps by giving a bit more time to allow all of the books to make it around the room.


10)    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. 2: Yes, we saw excellent examples of bindings. 3: I think we went way too fast at Special Collections. It felt frantic and I didn't feel I had enough time to absorb the information. Two sessions would have been much better. McGregor sessions were good too. Would have liked more time to browse afterwards. 4: Yes. We went to the McGregor room twice in order to complete exercises that complimented what we learned in lecture. We also visited Special Collections once. While I found that also to be complimentary to the lectures, I was disappointed with the "no touch" policy. 5: Very much so. 6: Yes, the Special Collections and McGregor tutorials were ESSENTIAL. Alternating between tasks worked well in this class. 7: Yes, though in Special Collections the tension between seeing a lot of important books and looking at them carefully was resolved in favor of volume. The McGregor Room session was highly effective. 8: Yes—fantastic. Thank you to Special Collections. 9: Special Collections and the McGregor Room were both very helpful. 10: Yes! The Special Collections visit was great. 11: Yes, very well-spent and much appreciated! 12: Yes—enhanced the week in content and social opportunity.




11)    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: None—I think Staff expressed to us the best care and handling of materials. 2: While I fully understand the Special Collections policies that disallow classes from handling items, I wonder if an invitation could be extended to RBS students so we could return via appointment, to fully examine particular items. 3: Better advance planning of books to passed around during the session (e.g., load up the baskets before we start) would perhaps reduce the number of books that got jostled around quite a lot. 4: I found instruction on handling materials to be sound. 5: I have no improvement to suggest. 6: The Jungle Book Story looked like it was actually signed by Kipling himself. Worth replacing with copy of lesser value? Our handling was very responsible. 8: None—everyone was very careful and displayed good handling. 9: N/A. 10: None. 11: No suggestions, handling appeared good. 12: No—all was well-done.



12)    If you attended the optional evening events (e.g. RBS Lecture, Video Night, RBS Forum, Booksellers' Night) were they worth attending?



1: Yes. 2: Yes, the two lectures were excellent. 3: Lecture was great! Booksellers' Night was a bit disappointing—not very many shops. 4: I attended all and found them to be excellent. I did wish that the forum was a panel that consisted of several speakers but still enjoyed Belanger's talk on teaching with the Audubons. 5: Yes, I attended both lectures, and found them to be engaging. 6: Yes! Not, perhaps, Video Night (which I skipped). Disappointing that not all booksellers (Daedalus, e.g.) participated. 7: Both lectures were worthwhile. 8: Yes, absolutely. 9: Yes, but difficult to see/hear videos. 10: Yes! I loved the French binding video, and all the forums were excellent. 11: Yes. I very much appreciate Booksellers' Night. 12: Yes.


13)    Did you get your (or your institution's) money's worth? Any final or summary thoughts, or advice for other persons considering taking this course in a future year?


1: Yes! 2: Yes. 4: Yes! Yes! Yes! This was a very valuable and meaningful experience.5: It was money well spent! 6: Yes! Sign up now! 7: Yes. 8: Yes, absolutely. 9: Absolutely worth every penny. There is no other place where I could have learned this material. 10: Yes! Take SA's class! 11: I absolutely got my money's worth. 12: Absolutely.


14) Would you recommend this course to others?


1: Yes. Especially if SA teaches it. 2: Yes, and will. 4-5: Yes! 6: YES! 7: Yes. 8: Yes, absolutely. 9: Yes. 10: Yes! 11: Yes, no question. 12: Strongly.













Institution gave me leave




I took vacation time




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




I am self-employed

Work has nothing to do with RBS course






Institution paid tuition




Institution paid tuition ___%




I paid tuition myself




Exchange or barter




N/A: Self-employed, retired or scholarship




Institution paid housing




Institution paid for ___% of housing




I paid for my own housing




N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home








Institution paid travel




Institution paid ___% of my travel




I paid my own travel




N/A: lived nearby







There were 1 archivist/manuscript librarian (8%), 4 rare book librarians (33%), 1 rare book librarian on curatorial staff of museum with rare books (8%), 1 general librarian with some rare book duties (8%), 2 professors of English (17%), 1 art librarian/archivist with some rare book duties (8%), 1 conservator-preservation librarian (8%), 1 staff member of Studies in Bibliography (8%).


Where did you stay?


Brown College: 4 (33%)

Budget Inn: 1 (8%)

Red Roof Inn: 4 (33%)

Other: 3 (home, family) (25%)