L-155v. Institutional Book Arts Collections: Evaluating & Describing

Robert Riter

Course Length: 12 hours
Course Week: 10–14 June 2024
Format: online only
Fee: $800

This course will introduce topics in the management of book arts collections, with the term “book arts” referring broadly to any work created through book arts practices (i.e., hand bookbinding, letterpress printing, hand papermaking, &c.).

Topics will include collection development and selection, organization, description, and the development of access policies and procedures. Emphasis will be placed on how book art objects can be evaluated as cultural, material, evidential, artistic, and scholarly objects, and the challenges associated with accurately representing these works through descriptive practices. We will discuss the function of book arts collections in special collections environments as research and teaching resources. Using the digital modality as an affordance, we will give attention to how digitization operates as a form of description, and the challenges associated with communicating materially unique objects through digital surrogates.

Course Goals
After completing this course, you will have obtained a historical, conceptual, and practical understanding of the following topics and practices:

  1. Students will acquire an understanding of the technologies utilized in providing access to book arts collections. This will include evaluations of traditional access tools, such as library catalogs, and of the use of more recent digital technologies to support access through the creation of digitized collections.
  2. Students will acquire competency in evaluating the evidential and information properties of book art objects, and how these properties inform the creation of bibliographic descriptions and access tools. Students will also acquire an understanding of the role of community needs assessment in developing evidence-based cataloging practices in support of broader access.
  3. Students will acquire an understanding of best practices for developing representative and inclusive book arts collections.

Session Structure and Expectations
Course sessions will consist of lecture, discussion, and lab components. Lab components will include records assessment, digital repository analysis, objection evaluation, and cataloging exercises. The primary objective will be to achieve competency with core principles, to support continued learning.

Past experience and/or familiarity with book arts collections and the book arts are not required.


Course History

Robert Riter teaches this course online (12 hours).


Robert Riter

Robert Riter

Robert Riter is Associate Professor and Marie Drolet Bristol-EBSCO Endowed Professor in the University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies. His teaching and research interests include the publication of original sources, archival and library history, archival research methods, and book arts collections.

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