Rare Book School

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Many websites provide links to various organizations and other venues concerned with rare books and the history of books and printing. The best-organized and most comprehensive list, maintained by Peter VerHeyen, is to be found on the Book Arts Web, under Book Arts Links.

The short sections presented below make no attempt to compete with VerHeyen's excellent set of links; they may, however, be useful as signposts pointing in various basic bibliographical directions.

The Antiquarian Book Trade

The premier association of antiquarian booksellers in the United States is the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA); there are about 470 members, many of whom also belong, through their ABAA membership, to the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB/LILA). The ABAA sponsors three annual antiquarian book fairs: in Boston, California (alternating between Los Angeles and San Francisco), and New York City; and it puts out an annual directory of its members (single copies available gratis from the association's NYC headquarters). The ABAA has eight regional chapters, each with its own directory. There are a number of other regional used/antiquarian bookseller associations in the United States, some of which sponsor popular book fairs of their own.

Bibliographical and Book History Societies

The principal American societies include APHA, BSA, BSUVA, and SHARP. All have open membership, and they all sponsor the usual mix of journals, newsletters, conferences, and related activities.

APHA: The American Printing History Association

Biannual journal (Printing History); newsletter; annual conference in the fall in various locations; annual meeting in NYC on the last Saturday in January; several regional chapters.

BSA: The Bibliographical Society of America

Quarterly journal (Papers of the BSA); monographs; sponsors occasional lectures in various locations; annual meeting in NYC on the last Friday in January.

BSUVA: The Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia

Annual volume (Studies in Bibliography, also available online free on the Society's website); monographs; annual meeting in March at UVA.

SHARP: The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing

Annual volume (Book History); newsletter; email listserv.

Many Americans also belong to:

BibSoc: The Bibliographical Society [London]

Quarterly journal (The Library, also available online for a fee); monographs; monthly meetings in London.

Book Collecting

There are many regional book collecting societies and clubs in the United States. Most of them belong to an umbrella organization called the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies (FABS). On the FABS home page, click on "Member Clubs" for a useful address list of participating groups.

Several websites provide amalgamated lists of books for sale by thousands of individual used/antiquarian/rare booksellers. The three most widely-used sites are AddALL, BookFinder.com, and ViaLibri.

Further Reading

Nearly all RBS courses have online advance reading lists. Those for H-10: The History of the Book, 200–2000, G-20: Printed Books to 1800: Description & Analysis, and G-30: Printed Books since 1800: Description & Analysis are good places to begin a systematic course of reading in the history of books and printing.

I Have This Old Book...

A useful place to begin the investigation of a particular book of potential rarity and/or value is a guide published by RBMS called Your Old Books. This guide addresses some frequently asked questions about rare and older books and their values; an appendix lists online and print resources for more information on the questions covered.

Rare Book/Special Collections Library Associations

The principal American library/archives assocations include RBMS and SAA. They both have the usual association mix of journals and other publications, conferences, and the like.

RBMS: The Rare Books & Manuscripts Section of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association (ALA)

Twice-yearly journal (RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage); newsletter; annual pre-conference usually in June, immediately preceding the annual conference of ALA; various activities at ALA's midwinter and annual conferences.

SAA: Society of American Archivists

Semi-annual journal (American Archivist); newsletter; annual conference; various other continuing education and activities.

Research Libraries

The largest academic and research libraries tend to belong to the Association of Research Libraries (ARL); go here for a list of the senior rare book personnel in ARL libraries. Many of the country's major independent research libraries belong to the Independent Research Libraries Association (IRLA). About 80 selective liberal arts colleges belong to a library consortium called the Oberlin Group.

Envoy: Of making links there is no end, but we hope that the basic references set forth above will point you in useful directions.