John Buchtel & Mark Dimunation
H-10: The History of the Book, 200–2000
16–20 July 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: They were helpful and appropriate, the mandatory readings. I also looked at a few optional ones. I didn't feel like it was a laundry list but the most essential reading to give a basic overview so I could understand what was coming in class. 2: The pre-course readings were extremely helpful to be knowledgeable in the classroom discussions. You really need to have read the mandatory readings to get the most out of the course. 3: The required readings were very helpful. The course moves quickly and having a base of knowledge helps to keep up. 4: Nearly all of the readings were clear and compelling. Couldn't get through everything. Warren Chapell a bit dense with names and Eisenstein a bit abstruse. 5: The pre-course readings were enormously helpful. Some of them had been on my "to read" shelf for years. So it was exciting to finally read them with a sense of purpose! 6: The pre-course readings were excellent and extremely useful. I completed the required readings (except Eisenstein) and most of the recommended readings, which left me well prepared for the course (though now I'll go back and finish Eisenstein). 7: Very useful. The pre-course readings helped immediately in understanding what was being talked about and the terminology being used. 8: I found the brief books on Scribes and Illuminators and Guide to Printing History and Techniques the most useful, the Warren Chappell book the least so. 9: Very useful. While it was a lot of reading, I am glad I did it all before attending. I particularly enjoyed Carter's ABC and the Robert Darnton article. A list of the videos and YouTube clips would be useful for review. 10: The pre-course readings were extremely helpful and, for the most part, very enjoyable. I did a good portion of the reading, but I wish I had taken the time to do it all (there was a lot!). I'm planning on reading the rest when I get home—maybe even re-reading everything. 11: Mostly useful. I was familiar with some material. ABC for Book Collectors was less useful, but I am not a collector.
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. The instructors also referred to the contents to tie it into what we were discussing at the time. 2: The workbook and the materials included will be extremely useful to me when I get home. I will be using the reference book list and will refer to the print processing types at a later date to be sure. 3: Yes, especially the appendices of reference works and bibliographies. 4: The teachers and the materials they showed us were so good that the workbook was almost unnecessary during class. It will be very useful in the future, however. 5: The book and materials were elucidating and most helpful. Many items will be helpful long after the class. 6: Yes, very useful, and I'll re-read or reference most if not all of them. 7: They will be extremely useful as I start to build a reference library for my rare book collection. 8: Very well organized and just the right amount of information. I'm sure I will use the list of further reading for years to come. 9: Very useful. I will follow up on reading lists, vocabulary and book lists of items we discussed. 10: Yes to both. I think the materials will be especially helpful in the future—for referring back to book lists and for acquainting myself with the reference materials described in the appendix. 11: Quite useful, great resource for future study.
3) Have you taken one or more RBS courses before? If so, how did this course compare with your previous coursework?
1: My first course. 2–4: No. 5: This is my first time at RBS. 6: This was my first course, so I hope there will be more. 7: Yes. The previous class was more of a discussion about special collections administration. This class was definitely more hands-on and interactive with actual materials. Both classes were great building blocks for future classes. 8: No, but I hope to come back for more. 9–11: No.
4) What aspects of the course content were of the greatest interest or relevance for your purposes?
1: I have a sense of what to pay attention to now, what qualities to examine. I do not know everything, haven't got it all memorized, but I can go back and research stuff. For example, pay attention to the illustrations—but I can examine and refer to tools to ID the type. I don't need to be able to ID it perfectly myself now. I have an overview now and can go back and learn more or go more in depth. It has given the good basic foundation I wanted. 2: To me the greatest interest was understanding the different kinds of printing presses and techniques used and what they produced. This will help me determine what kind of printing was used when looking at a book. I particularly enjoyed the printmaking processes of the engravings and wood block. 3: The progression of book creation, and the impact of printing and its various methods. 4: As a writer who does not specialize in the field of book studies, I liked the breadth of the content and can't select one or another aspect as my favorite. 5: All the material presented will be helpful in talking to people with different levels of expertise about my institution's collection. 6: The placement of the development of the book in proper (and fascinating) historical context. 7: Everything was relevant and will help me as I move forward with growing the library's rare book collection to serve the university community. 8: I thought that the instructors did a remarkable job making just about everything we discussed interesting, although I found discussions of c19 popular print and fin-de-siecle fine press work most relevant for my interests. 9: Manuscript and early printing were more interesting to me than c19 and c20 although I suspect what I learned about the later centuries will have more daily application in my library. 10: Truly, everything. I suppose the beginning of the week, when we focused on medieval manuscripts, was the most interesting and relevant, but the entire course kept me fascinated. 11: Early modern to c19—print culture, Renaissance and c18 especially.
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: I believe they did. They stayed to the course content. For what I knew walking in, yes it was appropriate for me. I thought the hands-on aspect was very good to help understand what stuff looked like, how it worked (for example: print kit, tool kit, printing press exercises). Please keep these. 2: The instructors were both amazing at conveying the information, terms, and skills we needed to know about the history of the book. The intellectual level of the class was perfect. The instructors made the class feel at ease from the first day. 3: The instructors were incredibly good. The intellectual level was appropriate for a survey course and the good natures of the instructors made in interesting and fun. 4: Yes, and yes. 5: Everything was presented by our instructors in a meaningful way at an appropriate level. It is clear that both instructors love their book life, love sharing it, and love teaching—and are gifted at it! What more could a student—of any age—ask? 6: Yes, definitely. The combination of hands-on experience, visual learning and repetition in discussion not only expressed ideas well, but allowed me to place the ideas into a permanent understanding. (That is, I fully learned the material.) 7: Yes. 8: Yes, I especially enjoyed learning by examining and discussing specific books and periodicals, while they also used activities and film clips judiciously. I might have liked slightly more attention to major scholarly debates or shifts in the theories and methods of book historians. 9: Absolutely. The course was challenging but appropriate for beginners (to book history). 10: Absolutely. 11: I found the course very enriching. I learned a lot, and am quite inspired. Would have liked a bit more systematic vista out upon the new digital landscape.
6) What did you like best about the course?
1: I learned what I hoped to gain but had fun doing it. The visit to the LC was just like dying and going to book heaven. I don't think anything I will see in the future can rival the books I've seen in the last week. 2: I liked the way the instructors taught the history of the book to our class the best. I had history of the book in graduate school but I'm really glad that I took this class because of the instructor's perspective and what they chose to cover. 3: The instructors! They made it a class not to miss. They kept it interesting. 4: MD. I would take anything he teaches. I fell blessed to have been with him for a week. Learned, witty, interesting, clear, and soulful. 5: My instructors and their vast accumulation, breadth and depth of knowledge. The high-energy, interactive, creative—out of the box and over the top—teaching style. The visit to the LC. The unbelievable resources made available to us. I am also grateful you offer this course to people who are not in the library or higher education fields. 6: The LC day! And the experience of being able to see and handle items in the UVA rare book collection, as guided by extremely knowledgeable instructors. 7: Actually seeing the books and tools for the processes we were talking about. Trip to the LC was fantastic. 8: The chance to view materials first hand, especially during the LC visit, and to interact with the tools of printing, as when we used a hand press. 9: The team teaching (by JB and MD) was an exceptional display of experienced instruction. Seeing and teaching the books while learning the back-story and theory/social aspects of book production. 10: It's hard not to say the visit to the LC! Even more so, though, the general attitude of both MD and JB—their teaching styles, their knowledge, and their senses of humor—probably mattered more than anything else. 11: To see the books—LC! The experience and charisma of instructors.
7) How could the course have been improved?
1: I don't think it can be. Outstanding instruction, answers to student questions according to our comprehension and interests, humor, vocabulary review, over-the-top exemplars to illustrate concepts, efforts to get us working together by seat rotation. Very well thought out and executed. 2: The course itself was absolutely amazing and would be hard to improve. The only suggestion I have is to incorporate printings from other parts of the world that were happening at the same time as the European ones—major works in other parts of the world. 3: Honestly can't think of anything. It was a perfect survey of the history of the book. 4: I don't know. I would defer to MD on that question. 5: Might include additional world examples: Tibetan, Chinese, Persian. 6: I can't imagine changing a thing; I'd like to go back in time and do it all over again. 7: This course has two great instructors who generously share their knowledge with their students. There is no way to improve on that. 8: Perhaps by discussing the current digital revolution in more depth. 9: Honestly, I don't think it could have been better. 10: N/A. 11: See answer to question #5.
8) Did you learn what the course description/advertisements indicated you would learn?
1–4: Yes. 5: Yes. And more! 6: Yes. I learned even more than I had anticipated I would. 7: Yes, absolutely. 8: Yes. 9: Yes, and more. 10–11: Yes.
9) Did you learn what you wanted to learn in the course?
1: Yes. I have enough knowledge to get started for now. I hope to take more courses. 2: Yes, and much more. It took my knowledge of printmaking deeper. 3: I wanted a basic understanding of book and printing concepts, and got it. 4: Yes. 5: Yes. And more! 6: Yes. 7: Yes. I learned everything I wanted to and so much more. 8: Yes. 9: Yes, and more. 10: Yes. 11: Yes. A bit more on the digital book in 2000?
10) How do you intend to use or apply the knowledge or skills learned in this course?
1: To start making evaluations on our book backlog—what to keep/let go. Improve my book handling skills and be less shy about asking others to apply. 2: I intend to use this knowledge back at my home institution while processing uncatalogued books and it will help me determine which books are special or rare. 3: In history of the book instruction at my library, and in evaluating items in our collection. 4: I don't know yet. I'm about to start researching my next book (on a topic unrelated to the study of the book). I suppose I won't know until after it's written. 5: Share it—with donors, members, administrators, and board members of my institution. 6: In the continued development of my liberal studies education; in the encouragement and promotion of UVA and other academic programs; in developing a private rare book collection. 7: I will now be able to evaluate the library's rare book collection from a more knowledgeable perspective and better assist faculty members in using the collection for instruction. 8: I hope to incorporate the history of the book into university courses I teach. What I learned about earlier centuries will also help me to contextualize my research on c20 literature and publishing. 9: What I learned will be used daily to help manage the special collections at my library. Particularly useful will be the reference materials identified in the course. I will look at books in our collection in a new way. 10: Some of it is simply for personal edification, but on a more practical level, I'll use my newly acquired understanding of the history of the book in my own teaching at my library. I'll also use it to re-explore my own special collections, as up to now I didn't know enough to always know even what I was looking for. 11: Teaching; possibly in my research in formulating research questions and gaining impetus to spend more times in the archives.
11) If you made any trips away from your classroom, was the time devoted to this purpose well spent?
1: YES!! The examples we saw at the LC and the impact it made on us as custodians of rare material was invaluable. Please thank all the LC staff for making this trip possible. 2: YES! YES! YES! 3: Yes, trip to the LC and to the UVA SC. All good to see real examples. 4: Fantastic trip to the LC. 5: Well spent??? It was a gift from God! 6: Yes, extremely. The LC day was long but happily so—I think many of us would have skipped dinner to make the day last as long as possible. 7: Extremely well spent. The opportunity to see books at the best library in the country is very much appreciated and to do so in the company of great instructors is very valuable. 8: Yes, the field trip to the LC was a highlight of the week. 9: Yes! The trip to the LC was the opportunity of a lifetime. 10: Absolutely. Every minute of the course was efficient and well planned. 11: The LC trip was unspeakably amazing—unforgettable experience of a lifetime!
12) If you attended the optional evening events (e.g., RBS Lecture, Video Night, RBS Forum, Booksellers' Night) were they worth attending?
1: If you are not too exhausted, yes. Thank you for arranging these options. 2: Yes, the lecture was great. Booksellers' Night was fun. I got to apply what we had learned in class to the books at the booksellers. 3: Lecture was good. Collections at Booksellers' Night were small, at least the ones I saw. 4: Yes—Monday evening was terrific. 5: Always. Well chosen, well planned, well presented. 6: Yes, I attended the RBS Lecture and Video Night and enjoyed both. 7: The lecture on Monday was very interesting and informative. 9: Yes. I could only attend the Monday night lecture but it was very good. 10: Yes—especially the lectures. 11: Yes.
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 Collections. If relevant, what suggestions do you have for the improved classroom handling of such materials used in your course this week?
1: None. The instructions should continue to monitor our handling so we learn the proper way to do so. 2: N/A. 3: None. The instructors were very careful and attentive to our handling of the items. 4: None. 5: I thought our collection examples were treated with great consideration and respect. 6: No suggestions; we were carefully instructed and supervised on the care and handling of the books, so I believe everything was in very good hands all week. 8: I was very happy with the opportunities to handle materials from the teaching collections and see materials from Special Collections. 9: None. 10: MD and JB are experts at handling rare books, and they were very diligent about making sure the students understood good handling practices. I was impressed. 11: N/A.
14) Did you get your (or your institutions) money's worth? Would you recommend this course to others?
1: Yes! Yes! 2: I definitely got my money's worth by taking this course. I really felt (and appreciated) that the instructors were doing all this work for us, so we could learn, and disseminate our new knowledge to our colleagues back home. 3: Yes, very much so. I would highly recommend it. 4: Yes. Yes. 5: I have been emailing colleagues and friends all week to recommend RBS to them! 6: Yes, and then some. Yes I will definitely recommend this program to others. 7: YES!! 8: Absolutely. JB and MD made even six hours a day of class a worthwhile pleasure; I really can't imagine a better whirlwind introduction to the history of the book. 9: Yes. It was absolutely worth the investment. 10: Yes, and yes!! 11: Yes, I would 100% recommend the course, also for the community, social atmosphere. MD and JB are amazing teachers and such accomplished individuals, and it is great fun to be around them for a week!
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 [email@example.com] or Michael Suarez [firstname.lastname@example.org].)
1: Thank you for sharing your knowledge and encouraging those of us coming behind you even if our collections are not as stellar! 2: Do not hesitate to take this course! It was amazing. The instructors are extremely knowledgeable about the topic and taught it superbly. You do not need to bring a laptop to take notes. 3: A very good introduction to rare books and to the depth of the fields of study. This course made me aware of so many aspects of the field that I hadn't considered. 4: Apply early and pray that you get in. Gosh golly! 5: To others—do not miss this! Do not put on bucket list or wait for "later"! What an opportunity to enrich one's knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of book life. An amazing, profound and spiritual experience. 6: This was truly an extraordinary experience, something special that should not be missed by anyone with the ability and inclination to attend. Be sure to do the readings, as the knowledge from them makes the experience richer. Enjoy. 7: Incredible class. You have so much fun learning that you don't realize how fast the time is going. Anyone who is interested in the history of books should take it. 9: I am so grateful that I was accepted. I have been to a lot of professional development institutes and this far surpasses any previous experience. I can't say thank you enough to MD and JB. 10: Take lots and lots of notes! I know I'll be revisiting mine frequently. Bring a pencil!
Number of respondents: 11
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 ___% of my travel
I paid my own travel
N/A: lived nearby
There were three college/university assistant professors (27%), three rare book librarians (27%), one library fundraiser (9%), one librarian with some rare book duties (9%), one library/university administrator (9%), one freelance writer (9%), one lawyer (9%)
How did you hear about this course?
News or web article
Word of mouth
RBS faculty or staff recommendation
Where did you stay?
Brown College: 4 (36%)
Cavalier Inn: 1 (9%)
Courtyard Marriott: 1 (9%)
Hampton Inn & Suites: 2 (18%)
Red Roof Inn: 1 (9%)
Other: 2 (18%)