David Whitesell

G-20. Printed Books to 1800: Description & Analysis

4-8 July 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 useful. Collation would have been a nightmare if one had not read Bowers in advance. ABC for Book Collectors makes an excellent reference book, and the diagrams of variously formatted sheets in Gaskell helped with the collation process. 2: The pre-course readings provided a firm foundation upon which the course built. 3: Very. The readings were well chosen, and provided an excellent overview of the course content. I would not have gotten as much out of the course as I did had I not completed the readings, nor would I have gotten much out of the readings without the course. 4: Very, although a bit heavy and hard to absorb. Further discussion in class really helped illuminate them, though. 5: Very helpful. 6: Very—a lot of information to digest, but DW pulled it all together in the class session. 7: Reading very useful; video not very useful although accompanying workbook was. 8: Very useful readings. 9: Pre-course readings were useful in providing fundamentals of subject, but like so many aspects of this profession, the experience of the instructor was critical to my understanding the subject. 10: Very. They were extremely useful in laying the groundwork for the course. 11: Very useful—although I admit I only skimmed Bowers. I've sampled Gaskell and other classic texts, but this was my first sustained study of an important work. I now feel fortified to read Bowers through. 12: Very helpful. Dense and often over my comprehension, but it helped orient me.

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

1: The workbook was extremely well-planned. Having many lecture notes pre-printed helped me focus on the lecture rather than on note-taking. The note sheets for use while viewing Special Collections also helped, and all materials will be useful later. 2: The course workbook and materials proved helpful and will be a great resource for teaching and research. 3: Yes, very. I expect to consult the workbook often. 4: Very useful. Will probably become a prime resource for me at work. 5: They were very helpful and they will be so in the future. 6: Absolutely. I plan to use many of the suggested materials for future reference. 7: Course workbook = outstanding. I'll definitely use as a reference at work. 8: The workbook and other materials were tremendously helpful. 9: Yes, on both counts. We have a lot of hand-press printings and will continue to acquire them. The workbook and my notes will help me identify and verify them. 10: Very useful. DW had obviously spent a tremendous amount of time in preparing history, examples, workbook assignments and a splendid reading bibliography. I'll keep it as a daily reference tool when I return home. 11: The workbook is a treasury—it is filled with treasure! I'll be returning to it often, I'm sure. The recommended readings, in particular, will be guiding further study. It's great to have them set out for me! 12: Great workbook. I'll refer to these for years.

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: Appropriate intellectual level, and my greatest interest was in book formats and printing processes. 2: Discussions of practices in the later years of the hand-press period were of most relevance for my work, as well as the implications of bibliographic examination. 3: The hands-on identifications in the workbook (both the homework questions and the facsimile comparisons) were very helpful to my understanding of the format and collation of hand-press period books, and will be useful in my scholarly work. 4: Learning to identify and differentiate between centuries, places, printers, &c. Intellectual level very appropriate—stimulating and challenging, but not too much for a beginner like me. 5: Collation and bibliography. Very intellectual, very appropriate. 6: Collation, provenance and general descriptive bibliography were of most interest to me as I have pretty good knowledge of papermaking and printing. Level of the course was appropriate. 7: Everything. 8: The entire course was interesting and relevant and the intellectual level was appropriate. 9: This was an introductory course, for me anyway, and I found all aspects of this course relevant and interesting, (even collation formulas). 10: The general history and the "hands on" experiences. 11: I found everything valuable—especially as it came together in the later exercises with description/collation. Practicing writing the formula helped me digest the book historical tour of printing and binding. 12: Intellectual level very appropriate. I appreciated all sections of the course and sections appropriately built to later complexity.

4)    What did you like best about the course?

1: The opportunity to see firsthand examples of our topics of discussion. 2: The vast number of RBS holdings used as examples. 3: The combination of practice materials and DW's patient and knowledgeable explanation of their construction will leave a lasting impression on me. 4: Lots of practical, hands-on examples. 5: The instructor. 7: Hands-on experience and DW's incredibly dry wit and enthusiasm. 8: The course had a perfect mix of lecture and hands-on learning that helped to make understanding the material clear. 9: The instructor. Witty, patient and very knowledgeable, not only on this subject but the rare book world at large. 10: Actually being able to see and work with the books while having expert help from the instructor. 11: DW. 12: Loved bookbinding. Small Library was very useful. The collection of example books was critical to learning.

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

1: Yes—he always made himself available and addressed every question I had—and there were many! 2-3: Yes. 4: Absolutely. DW is knowledgeable, approachable and fun. He is top of his field. 5: Yes, very much so. 6: Absolutely, and he was welcoming of questions. Very respectful towards all students. 7: Yes. 8: DW is a very talented instructor. He conveyed his knowledge generously. 9: Yes. 10: Absolutely! 11: Yes. He is a great teacher. I really like his manner, his wit, his care and investment in the class. He has designed an excellent course. I'm ready to take another! 12: Instructor's style and knowledge was effectively somewhat low-key and he never made me feel like I was asking stupid questions.

6)    Did you learn what the course description/advertisements indicated you would learn? Y/ N
Additional comments (optional):

1-4: Yes. 5: Yes. Fantastic course. 6-7: Yes. 8: Yes—more. 9-12: Yes.

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

1-2: Yes. 3: Yes, although I have also learned that much of what I had hoped to be able to do with digital facsimiles will not be possible. Though disappointed, I am very glad to know this and to have gained a greater appreciation for the information contained in physical printed materials. 4: Yes. 5: Yes. Fantastic course. 6-7: Yes. 8: Yes—more. 9: Yes, and I still feel I have more to learn on the subject. 10: Yes. Not only what I hoped to learn but more—I'm going back with lots of ideas on how to apply what I've learned to both working with the materials in my home collection, and also in using them with my students. 11: Yes—and much more! 12: Yes. I learned so much more than I expected to.

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

1: I'll use the knowledge I've gained here in my dissertation. I also plan to hold workshops for my working group to pass on my newly acquired skills. 2: I will be teaching an introduction to book history course this fall, and I will certainly use it in my own work. 3: I will be writing a dissertation that will involve knowledge of the bookselling and printing pages: the information and skills I have gained here will be indispensible. 4: In my work cataloging rare books. 5: I intend to teach rare book history in high school and I am a rare bookseller/collector. 6: Reference queries regarding our collection, classroom instruction, assisting researchers and faculty, deepening knowledge of our collection. 7: I now have a more detailed and informed understanding of the collections I work with. 8: I will use the knowledge regularly in my daily work with books from the hand-press period. 9: My institution has and continues to acquire hand-press printings—this course has helped me to have a keener eye in verifying what we have and to better recognize and identify what will be offered to us in the future. 10: To find out more about the items we hold in our Rare Book Room collection and in using them for classes with our students. 11: In my own teaching and in research. 12: Everyday after I return to work. Answering reference questions, writing additional annotations, evaluating books for selection, teaching...

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: The small slips of paper passed around with the book specimens should accompany every item. By the time the book reached me, I couldn't recall what I was supposed to notice about it, and I would miss lecture trying to figure it out. The pace of passing items around was too fast. 2: Because I have some experience with descriptive bibliography, some of the material was review and I'd like to see an additional class offered that applies descriptive bibliography to textual study. 3: N/A. 4: Couldn't be; it's wonderful. 5: Again, fantastic course. 6: None. 8: I cannot think of a way to improve the course. 9-11: I'm not sure how to improve upon the course ... the extra session(s) were thoughtful and useful but also strained ... Wednesday was hard! (But well worth it.) maybe the Thursday workshop could be earlier?

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—we saw essential examples unavailable in class. 2: Yes. 3: Yes. The materials we viewed in Special Collections provided a broader perspective of the range of materials we might encounter. 4: Yes. 5: Very well spent. 6: Yes, I think it was. Even though I work with rare books every day in my job, it's always fun to see more. 7: Yes—the trip to Special Collections and the combination of typesetting and actually printing even more. 8: The time spent in Special Collections was one of the highlights of the course. The time was well-spent. 9: Yes, RBS copies are good but it's also good to see others—and in some cases—better copies. 10: We had a visit to Special Collections to see examples of what we'd talked about in class. Very useful. 11: Yes, I really enjoyed DW's presentation. 12: Special Collections visit was very important to see the big picture.

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: Bring enough book supports for all students. 2: None: all materials were handled properly. 3: N/A. 4-6: None. 8: I have no suggestions. I appreciate that RBS allows classroom handling! 9: None, Having an assistant help the instructor is key. He/she can watch and coordinate while the instructor is free to lecture. 11: I like touching the books ... I thought they were handled with respect. I saw a lot of hand-washing ... 12: Having access to a few books that were completely disassembled would be helpful.

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

1: The lectures were wonderful. 2: Selby Kiffer's talk was certainly appropriate for the Fourth of July! 3: Yes. The lecture and forum in particular were excellent, and provided good examples of how the skills learned in RBS can be applied. 4: Attended both lectures, both were interesting and built on what we learned in class. Monday's was particularly good. 5: Monday's lecture was amazing. 7: RBS lecture: excellent; RBS forum: good. 8: The lecture on the Dunlap Declaration by Kiffer was amazing. 9-10: Yes. 11: Just the forum. I thought the talk was excellent—and complemented the class in serendipitous ways. 12: First lecture great, second lecture good. Didn't attend Video or 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: I had the privilege of receiving an RBS scholarship, without which I would never have been able to attend. This experience has been invaluable for my research and for my colleagues, who will also benefit from my education at RBS. 2: Yes. 3: Yes. I would take this course again, and hope to have the opportunity to take others. 4: Definitely. 5: Worth every penny. 6: Yes. 7: Definitely. DW is an outstanding teacher. Clearly he's devoted to the field and also to teaching. In addition to his remarkable knowledge bank, he exudes passion about his topic and an obvious desire and concern to share that knowledge with his students. And my oh my is he hilarious in a very subdued, witty way. 8: DW is brilliant and he shares his knowledge generously. Take the course. 9: Yes. 10: Yes, yes, yes! 11: Oh yes! 12: Yes.

14)    Would you recommend this course to others?

1: YES! It's perfect if you need to read collation but not produce it, and if you are beyond an introductory class on history of the book. 2: ABSOLUTELY! (In fact, I already have!) 3: Yes, definitely. 4: Absolutely. A great introduction to many aspects of the book in the hand-press period. 5: Absolutely! 6: Absolutely! 7: Definitely. 8: Yes, I highly recommend this course. 9: Yes, but only if taught by this instructor. 10: Absolutely! 11: Absolutely. 12: Completely. Diversity of students was very useful.

Number of respondents: 12





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 3 full-time students working towards a Ph.D. (25%), 4 rare book librarians (42%), 1 general librarian with some rare book duties (8%), 1 professor (8%), 1 teacher/antiquarian bookseller (8%), 1 antiquarian bookseller (8%)


Where did you stay?

Brown College: 4 (33%)

The Lawn: 4 (33%)

Courtyard Marriott: 1 (8%)

Hampton Inn & Suites: 2 (17%)

Other: 1 (8%)