Tom Congalton / Katherine Reagan

G-30: Printed Books since 1800: Description & Analysis

11-15 June 2012

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: For our class there was too much reading, and as a result I only skimmed it. One or two articles would have been more helpful. 2: Admittedly I didn't finish the reading. I'm sure I would have gotten more out of the class if I had, but they were so technical and dry. The course was really interesting, though. To be honest I was worried the class would be really boring lectures about printing presses and papermaking based on the readings. I was pleased to find that wasn't the case. 3: The shorter readings were more useful than the bibliography book. 4: The pre-course readings were spot-on. 5: The materials were excellent, and gave me a nice background in book history. I did additional readings on related topics. However, the readings had little to do with the course. 6: Gaskell proved particularly useful in class discussion, and it is wise to review his work often. 7: Very useful. 8: I thought the pre-readings were immensely helpful, in particular the book on printing history, not so much for the class as understanding the Gaskell and Carter required readings. 9: Pre-course readings were much more extensive than the course content, and ended up being almost irrelevant. 10: Useful as background and foundation for discussion. 11: Outstanding suggestions for preparation. I read constantly for a month before the course, beginning research on my own book project so I could make best use of what I learned at RBS. 12: I would have never read Gaskell if not pushed by this course to do so—so I am glad that I read it but it is not essential to understanding what was taught in the class. ABC for Book Collectors can be read over and over—definitely useful for this class.

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: Yes! Incredibly useful and helpful. 2: The handouts were great—superb quality and content. 3: The handouts are going to be very useful in the future. 4: I will be using them as they are very handy. The division of information provided to us by the faculty was nice. This will make it easier to refer to them in future. 5: These materials were useful in class but mostly duplicative. Some of them I will keep, others not. 6: TC graciously provided full-color, professional pamphlets describing many of the book features which we discussed. As a supplement to the RBS collection, they were greatly appreciated. 7: Useful, but not complete enough. Should hand out outlines of lectures. Other handouts should be on paper size/cut for a three-ring binder. 8: Extremely helpful; explanations were greatly enhanced by all the booklets made by Between the Covers. 9: Materials are fine. 10: They were useful for class and will be valuable as reference tools at home. 11: Excellent materials distributed in class. Always informative, appropriate, well worth keeping for years of consultation. 12: The materials that the teachers handed out are extremely useful as a resource and I will be saving them to refer to as needed.

3) Have you taken one or more RBS courses before? If so, how did this course compare with your previous coursework?

1: N/A 2: I have taken one other course. Both were excellent. 3: Yes. I think there were more practical applications from this class. 4-5: No. 6: This is my first RBS course. 7-9: N/A 10: This was my third course, and was equally good. Having the perspective from both a curator and a bookseller was valuable to the discussions. 11-12: N/A

4)    What aspects of the course content were of the greatest interest or relevance for your purposes?

1: How to describe and date c19 novels. 2: General aspects of the important features of books. Understanding of the book trade. 3: Knowing what features of books to look at to assess value and where to go for more information. 4: I enjoyed the fact that our class was so diverse. There was a true sense of understanding between librarian and bookseller that I would not have expected. 5: I took great interest in the sessions on illustration and printing. 6: Discussions of the evolution of mechanical printing and binding techniques of the 19th century. 7: History of book printing, binding, and bibliographic descriptions. 8: Learning how to look at and understand the different ways of analyzing the object to tell if it was in "originalF condition or in some way altered at a later time. 9: Hands-on experience and instruction on how to classify techniques, aspects of book production. 11: The 90 minutes on manuscripts, galleys, and pages proofs outshone all other portions of the course. I was told RBS does not offer any courses that provide more than this one does on that topic in post-1800 publishing. I badly want to take one or more courses on manuscript development, copy-editing, and production from the post-1800 period. Will you create such a course? 12: I really needed to learn more about bindings and we spent an appropriate amount of time with this. It was also very helpful to learn about collection development from KR and how she deals with booksellers and how TC prepares to approach a librarian.

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

1: Yes, absolutely. I felt it fit the range of experiences very well. 2: Yes, I was looking for an overview/introduction and that it what I feel I got. 3-4: Yes and yes. 5: KR and TC are both lively and effective teachers. Their focus is definitely toward the library acquirer/dealer/seller aspect of things; they did this well. I would have liked more coordination of those practical issues with the intellectual ones found in the readings. 6: The course certainly delivered what it advertised, and the instructors maintained class discussion at a high level of engagement. 7: Yes. 8: Yes, all content of the course was helpful, but it would have been helpful to have a little more explanation on collation which was mentioned on occasion and appeared in the readings, but is a confusing concept. 9: I feel that the course title is incorrect; only the first half of the course (except for dust jackets!) was about description and analysis. The bookseller section mostly belongs in another class. The database section was good, but perhaps could have been condensed. It isn't that I don't think that context is important, but the balance was off for me. 10: Yes and yes. As an introductory course with students from diverse backgrounds and with different professional interests, it worked for everyone. 11: It was perfectly appropriate as an entry-level survey of information about analytical bibliography and antiquarian book-dealing. Intellectually, it was not a course heavily invested in deductions about or interpretations of bibliographic data. The instructors focused about 85% of our efforts on information, 15% on deductions, and 0% on interpretation. 12: Absolutely.

6) What did you like best about the course?

1: The two perspectives TC and KR demonstrated. 2: The museums and activities. 3: The instruction and handouts. 4: The instructors and banter between them as well as with the students. 5: 1) The class had a good vibe, with lots of back-and-forth. 2) The museums and practical aspects were invaluable. 6: Diversity. Instructors were a librarian and a bookseller, while students were booksellers, professors, and librarians. Course offered a chance to hear a variety of perspectives on rare books. 7: Research exercises, room location, small group size. 8: The mini-museums; these allowed us to see real examples, and in many cases, handle different examples of aspects discussed in class, such as illustrations, bindings and dust jackets. 9: See above. Plus, the instructors are excellent. 10: The openness of discussions. 11: I liked the complementary skills and professional approaches of the two instructors. We were promised all week that they would provide lively, friendly disagreement over several points of interest to both special collections librarians and antiquarian booksellers, but the only debate (singular) arose on the last day. I wish we had had more debate and argumentation, which to my mind would enhance the interpretive elements of bibliography. I loved the diversity of interests among the students. 12: The combination of KR and TC—special collections librarian and bookseller.

7) How could the course have been improved?

1: TC and KR could have ensured that other classmates' anecdotes did not go on for so long. This happened often and was somewhat irritating. 2: Visual aids for the lectures. I'm more of a visual than an aural learner. 5: Better coordination between the book history part (i.e., the readings) and the curriculum. Or a different course description. 6: Additional time devoted to printing technology. Although that discussion occurs in other RBS courses, it seemed that we could have used further emphasis on it here. 7: More handouts, less emphasis on dust-jackets, more emphasis on printing, paper, illustration, binding details. 8: I do not feel qualified to answer this question. 9: More time on printing, illustration, paper, and bindings. I think the bookseller info is not irrelevant, but the same material was covered multiple times; could have substituted more description and analysis work. 11: See response to number 6. 12: I wasn't overly excited about the research project at the end due in part to the book I chose to study.

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


1-4: Yes. 6-8: Yes. 9: Qualified yes—would have liked more. 10: Yes, and additional places to look for additional information. 11: Yes. I came to the course genuinely uncertain of what the focus would be, but now that I have taken the course, its description is apt. I didn't know enough about bibliography to read it properly before. 12: Yes.

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

1-4: Yes. 6-8: Yes. 9: Qualified yes – would have liked more. 10: Yes. 11: Yes. Not as much about manuscript development and production as I wanted to. But lots about printing and binding. And I realize RBS is about books, not manuscripts. 12: Yes.

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

1: I will use the bevy of information I collected about c19 book practices to further understand novels' publication and reception history. 2: This will be very useful to my work in a special collections library with a large book collection since I have little prior experience with books. 3: In evaluating the rare books that come into our collection. 4: For my business. 5: As a collector ... perhaps. 6: Further understanding of the features of c20 books will allow me to introduce these books more fully to my students. 7: Better analysis and description of books in the bookselling business. 8: I intend to use this new knowledge to analyze and identify books in our library's collection that may be rare. 9: Will look at materials in a new way. 10: I'll be able to look at our special collections holdings in additional ways and with additional research perspectives. 11: I will write my second book with bibliography and literary interpretation as the two methodologies. 12: I am much more aware of how much I need to learn about book jackets and paper, &c. A great overview to why it is so important. Will also constantly use the information that KR and TC gave us about how to research special collections and how to approach librarians.

11)  If you made any trips away from your classroom, was the time devoted to this purpose well spent?

1: Yes. 2: Yes. Two trips to Lower Tibet and one panel of booksellers; both very informative. 3-4: Yes. 5: Excellent. 6: Yes. Useful lectures equals time well spent. 7: Yes, lecture on Jane Eyre collection very comprehensive and applicable to book history process. 8: N/A. 9: Yes, although I thought the bookseller session, although pleasant, was not essential. 10: Yes—the discussions from antiquarian booksellers was valuable. 11: Yes—BEH's lecture was fun. 12: N/A.

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

1: I attended the Monday and Wednesday events, and they were excellent. 2: I did not attend any of these—as a local it was difficult to have the time for this as I wasn't "awayF for the week (it was not that I wasn't interested ... ) 3-4: Yes. 5: The RBS lectures were first-rate! 6: RBS lecture was enjoyable, fascinating, and informative. 7: Yes. 8: Both lectures on Monday and Wednesday were very interesting, and of course browsing bookstores is always fun. A dangerous temptation, but one many of my fellow RBSers and I enjoyed. 9: Yes, although the Video night was Marginal. 10: I attended both lectures and both were excellent. And with the intense, busy RBS class schedule, having the chance to visit the book shops "after hoursF is a nice option. 11: Yes. 12: The Lecture was really interesting as was the forum. Bookseller's Night was great as well.

13)  We are always concerned about the physical well-being both of the RBS teaching collections and of materials owned by the UVA's Special Colelctions. If relevant, what suggestions do you have for the improved classroom handling of such materials used in your course this week?

1-2: No suggestions. 4: I think everything was handled with the utmost respect. 6: I saw no shortfalls in the care of the RBS collection. 7: None, well done. 8: The foam holders for books are a good concept, but not sufficient; they are too liable to spread apart on slippery wood tables with more than the lightest of books. 9: It seemed OK. 12: N/A.

14)  Did you get your (or your institutions) money's worth? Would you recommend this course to others?

1: Yes! 2-5: Yes. 6: Yes and yes! 7: Yes and yes. 8: Absolutely! This was my first class and I hope to take others. I would definitely recommend this as a first RBS class to other librarians interested in rare books or special collections. 9: I was somewhat disappointed, but maybe my expectations were too great. I had hoped to do more real nitty-gritty learning of description and analysis. 10: Yes, and absolutely! 11: Yes. 12: Definitely.

15)  Any final or summary thoughts, or advice for other persons considering taking this course in a future year? (If you have further RBS praise or concerns, or if you have suggestions for a new course, please contact Amanda Nelsen [] or Michael Suarez [].)

2: No further comments. I was very pleased with the course. 8: Bring a pencil! Pens are not allowed of course in the Special Collections rooms with the books or RBS's books, but not all of us remembered that ahead of time. Bring a sense of humor too and a willingness to share stories. You learn much from other classmates and not just from the professors. This class attracted a wide variety of people, not just librarians, so the chance to learn what other librarians think is much increased, and not only because TC is a bookseller. 11: [When I asked some questions (4 or 5 in the week) about copy-editing or textual analysis of the artifacts in front of us, TC's response more than once was "You'd have to ask someone interested in that question.F I found that peculiar, that he wouldn't at least show curiosity about how bibliographical info can be interpreted intellectually.] 12: N/A.

Number of respondents: 12





Institution gave me leave


6 (50%)


I took vacation time


0 (0%)


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


5 (42%)


I am self-employed

Work has nothing to do with RBS course


1 (8%)




Institution paid tuition


7 (58%)


Institution paid tuition ___%


0 (0%)


I paid tuition myself


4 (34%)


Exchange or barter


0 (0%)


N/A: Self-employed, retired or scholarship

1 (8%)




Institution paid housing


5 (42%)


Institution paid for ___% of housing


0 (0%)


I paid for my own housing


4 (33%)


N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home


3 (25%)





Institution paid travel


4 (33%)


Institution paid ___% of my travel


0 (0%)


I paid my own travel


6 (50%)


N/A: lived nearby


2 (17%)





There were two librarians with some rare book duties (17%), three antiquarian booksellers (25%), two college assistant professors (17%), one book collector (8%), one M.A. student (8%), one librarian/archivist of digital materials (8%), one cataloger (8%), one rare book librarian (8%)


How did you hear about this course?


RBS Website

3 (25%)

Work Colleague

2 (17%)

Other : 1 CABS (8%)



Word of mouth

4 (33%)

RBS faculty or staff recommendation

2 (17%)





Where did you stay?

Brown College 4 (33%)

Courtyard Marriott 1 (8%)

Hampton Inn & Suites 1 (8%)

Red Roof Inn 1 (8%)

Other 5 (42%)