Mike Widener

C-85: Law Books: History & Connoisseurship

13-17 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. 2: The pre-course readings were exceptionally helpful. I was able to use them to build upon our institution's bibliographic resources. 3: Very useful both in advance and for future reference. 4: The pre-course readings were useful and I will refer to the entire reading list in the future. I have learned a great deal this week and look forward to following this path. 5: Very useful. We needed something to orient ourselves and I think the recommended readings did a good job. 6: Very useful for leveling out the understanding of incoming students. Terms that will be used in class are especially important. 7: They introduced the core of what we spent the week studying. 8: Very useful, on point, providing a good background to the content of the course. 9: Very useful.


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, I haven't explored all of the readings or links, so I expect to continue using it. 2: I will be keeping and referring to the course notebook. It will become a permanent part of my resource collection. It is full of useful and practical information. 3: Yes. 4: Yes. The workbook will be a most useful reference tool I will keep on a workshelf. 5: Very useful. It was a combination of outlines, articles, resources, advice and other material, all of which were valuable. I don't think I would change the packet or other handouts immediately. 6: Yes. Website links and outlines are always helpful in recalling past events. Although having the workbook as a Word document or PDF in addition would be an excellent idea in the computer age. 7: The workbook will serve as a reference. It is a wealth of useful information. I will reread it until it falls apart. 8: Yes, they were appropriate and useful, and they will be valuable sources of information for my work and for my institution as well. 9: Very useful, and I will continue to use them.


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: Information on preservation, history of the subject area. Yes. 2: As I am new to law librarianship, I found the readings particularly helpful. In class the exercises, and comments from students and instructor based on those exercises, were very useful. 3: Intellectual level was appropriate, all sessions were relevant. 4: It was all interesting and relevant. I enjoyed especially the discussions with the teachers and other classmates. 5: I didn't know anything about Anglo-American law and this course was a great way to start in on a new body of knowledge. All the advice on developing collections was very good as well, as were the bibliographic resources. The level and the work assigned were appropriate. 6: Yes, very appropriate. Of greatest interest were the instructor's comments on importance and collectability. 7: I needed exposure to professional librarians. I benefited from their perspectives of collection development. The intellectual level matched other RBS courses. 8: The complete course was of great interest and very relevant to my work, and the intellectual level of the course was appropriate. 9: Everything was relevant and useful; the intellectual level was perfect.


4)    What did you like best about the course?


1: That it was collegial—not formal lectures but invitations to discuss and question—enabled us to learn from one another. 2: The instructor and his passion, enthusiasm, and vast knowledge of his subject. 3: The professor and the give-and-take discussion which included comments from colleagues in the classroom with many perspectives (and to whom I will turn in the future). 4: The instructor's level of expertise and teaching ability, seeing examples/books, and the well-designed focus and pace of the course. 5: It was a combination of things; instructor, class, and material. 6: Images on screen of rare books that were of relevance to the instructor's collecting interest. 7: The instructor was superb. Also, the course content was improved by including study of Roman, canon, and Latin American law. 8: The knowledge gained not only from our course instructor but from our own classmates, with different backgrounds and experience; the fact that there is a mix of collectors, librarians, book dealers, and students enriches your own experience at RBS. 9: Gaining the benefits of MW's expertise. Second: class discussions.


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


1: Yes. 2: Yes. The course was well organized, resources were plentiful and content was very good and covered a range of subjects encountered in the profession. 3: Yes—and if not—I know he will be receptive to questions in the future. 4: Yes. He is excellent. The workbook is well put together also. 5: MW was great; he is enthusiastic and incredibly knowledgeable about the field. It was great to have his perspective and advice. I don't know who else has the kind of knowledge and attitude that he does. 6: Very much so. 7: Without doubt. This instructor was extremely learned in rare law book librarianship. He was patient and understanding. He answered all questions easily. 8: Absolutely! 9: Yes, very successfully.


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

1: Yes. 2: Yes. Law history and connoisseurship were well covered. 3-9: Yes.


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


1: Yes. 2: Yes. I had hoped to acquire a good understanding of law materials and that was fully conveyed. 3: Yes. 4: Yes. I wish RBS would offer a course in Roman Law. I would take it. 5-6: Yes. 7: Yes. I re-engaged in the serious undertaking of intelligent collecting. The course fully focused on connoisseurship. I learned more than I wanted to. 8: Yes. This was my first time and I did not know what to expect; and this learning experience went beyond what I would have imagined it to be. 9: Yes.


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

1: To educate my board and make better collecting and conservation decisions for my organization. 2: I will be using the knowledge and skills gained through this course to support my work as a law librarian. 3: I now have a defined approach to working with rare books and special collections in my library—I'm ready to take steps, whereas before, I was hesitant to go forward, as I had no background in these areas. 4: The knowledge I will continue to develop. All I learned in this class will enrich and deepen my understanding of my field as well as my appreciation for my daily work. 5: I'm not sure yet, but hopefully in a law library—but in fact any position in a library, or even an academic teaching position, would benefit greatly from the kind of background that was acquired over the course of the week. 6: Describe and highlight features of rare books in book descriptions that we create. 7: I will return home seriously committed to operating my collection and conducting my collecting activities according to a sound collection plan. 8: I intend to implement new policies and a collection development plan for the special collections in my institution. 9: I have a greater understanding of legal history that will be invaluable in my work as a legal cataloger. Knowledge of sources of materials and preservation info will help me as a private collector.

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: Increased focus on historical subject area—though time is limited. 2: Simply more time to spend on the materials, but that would require the week expanded to two! 3: More time in the classroom and shorter breaks in the morning and afternoon. 4: If it were possible to offer a course in only Roman Law, this course could take and apply that time to other content. 5: I don't think the course could have been improved, at least from my more-or-less beginner's perspective. Suggestions for another course is something I would have to think about. 6: The course received an A+ for everything. 7: It would help me to have some hands-on computer search training. I search for books constantly with engines such as ViaLibri, but I don't know all of the tricks. Also, training in searching OCLC. 8: The course went extremely well, it covered all the topics we needed, was well balanced, the exercises were not only enjoyable but excellent training.

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: Absolutely. The trip to the UVA law library was terrific. Not only were we able to see the library, but we were able to see some wonderful pieces from the collections and how they fit together with the larger collection. 3: Yes—we visited the Law School; seeing this collection was a treat. 4: Yes! The visit to the Law School Special Collections was wonderful and well-timed to illustrate points made in class. 5: Yes. It was a good, useful trip. The experience of seeing and handling the objects is really an important part of this. 6: No. But a visual of the law library's holdings in rare law books was time well spent. 7: It was one of the week's highlights. 8: Yes, this time was very well spent and the visits were appropriate to the content of the course. 9: Very well spent.


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?


2: Handling was limited, hands were clean, care was taken. I think that's all you can truly hope for. Books were covered in mylar which added an extra protective layer. 4: None. 6: We had no problems handling the course materials. 7: None. We handled them with care.

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

1: Yes (RBS Lectures, Booksellers' Night). Though the second lecturer seemed lovely, it was hard to follow his talk. 2: I attended both lectures and Booksellers' Night. All were worth attending. The videos were too specialized to be of interest. 3: I attended both lectures this week and thoroughly enjoyed both; I liked the Booksellers' Night. Receptions after every event were a bit too much. 4: Yes. Every optional event was worth attending. I very much enjoyed being able to attend a lecture in the Rotunda. 5: The RBS lecture in the Rotunda was not particularly stimulating, but the other events were worthwhile. 6: Yes. They were great. 7: Yes. 8: Yes, they were. 9: Yes (RBS Lecture, Video Night, Booksellers' Night).

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

1: Yes. Do the reading. 2: Absolutely, the institution has gained an employee who is better informed and can therefore make better contributions. I have encountered a community of people I will continue to keep in touch with and colleagues to work with. 3: Yes—my advice—go if you have the opportunity! 4: Yes. If anyone is considering taking this course, I would most highly recommend doing so. 5: Yes. 6: My organization will be happy to receive a better informed employee Monday morning and every day after. 7: RBS courses—and this one is no exception—are bargains. I get more from them than my money's worth. 8: Yes we did, and I think that other colleagues in my institution should attend RBS as well, colleagues that are also working in special collections. 9: Yes.

14) Would you recommend this course to others?

1: Yes. 2: This is a very worthwhile course and I would indeed recommend it to others. 3: Yes—I hope to return myself. 4-5: Yes. 6: I would recommend this course to EVERYONE. 7: Yes, without hesitation, if the person is in any way involved in collecting law books. 8: Yes, absolutely. 9: Yes.

Number of respondents: 9





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 rare book librarian; 1 archivist/manuscript librarian; 3 general librarians with some rare book duties, etc.; 1 full-time MLIS student; 1 antiquarian bookseller; 1 book collector; 1 specialist librarian with some rare book duties.

Where did you stay?

Brown College - 1

The Lawn - 3

Hampton Inn & Suites - 2

Red Roof Inn - 3