Class Notes from Rare Book School: A Special Collections Edition

You know it is officially summer when Rare Book School (RBS) begins at the University of Virginia.  RBS offers week-long, intensive courses on manuscript, printed, and born-digital materials.  Although a completely independent institute, RBS shares a close relationship with the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. In fact, its director, Michael Suarez, is honorary curator of the Special Collections Library (SC).  Nicole Bouché, director of Special Collections, describes the relationship:

The relationship between SC and the RBS is unique: it allows a convergence of an outstanding Special Collections and a world-class school for the study of the history of the book, combining forces and resources for an intensive summer of instruction.  The Rare Book School program would not be possible without the strength of our collections, and we benefit annually from the expertise that an international faculty brings to the study of the rare books, manuscripts and other resources held by the Small Special Collections Library.

RBS is outfitted with its own well-used teaching collections, and some of its faculty also arrange sessions in the Special Collections Library, using our materials.  RBS also organizes several public lectures of “bookish” matters, coinciding with their summer sessions. All of this makes for an engaging and lively environment around the learning about books.  Two Special Collections and RBS staff pull and organize 800 books over a five week period for approximately 25 classes.  It is a rapid-paced endeavor that takes lots of focus since some of the classes use the same materials, sometimes in the same week.

Here is a little behind the scenes look at what goes on to make the magic happen!

Week one slips for each Special Collections book pulled for Rare Book School.

First week slips for each Special Collections book pulled for Rare Book School (Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Emily

Emily Cone-Miller pulls the books for each RBS class and organizes them in the stacks. (Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

George Riser checks out Special Collections books for RBS.(Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

George Riser checks out books for each RBS class that visits Special Collections.(Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Books are ready for an RBS class and include titles, such as the Samuel Johnson's Dictionary, the Kelmscott Chaucer, and the Doves Press Bible.

The books are ready for an RBS class.  This book truck include titles, such as Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary, the Kelmscott Chaucer, and the Doves Press Bible. (Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

All of this preparation results in lots of opportunities for RBS students to immerse themselves in and learn about the many facets of rare books and book history made possible by the rich holdings of Special Collections.  The first week of classes with topics as varied as teaching the history of the book, scholarly editing, and 19th- and 20th-Century typography, included 15 sessions using our collections materials.

Here are some of the classes in action!

Antonetti_3 copy

Martin Antonetti discusses a medieval bible with his The Printed Book in the West to 1800 class. (Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

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New RBS faculty John Kristensen and Katherine M. Ruffin give background information on a book. Their class The History of c19 & c20 Typography & Printing made its debut the first week of RBS this summer. (Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Matthew Kirschenbaum and Naomi Nelson brought their Born-Digital Materials: Theory and Practice to Special Collections to see one book.  The book, featured here,  (Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Matthew Kirschenbaum and Naomi Nelson brought their Born-Digital Materials: Theory and Practice to Special Collections to see one book, Notebook by Annesas Appel.  According to our catalog record the book “is a project based on mapping the inside of a notebook [computer].” Ours is number 7 of a limited edition.  (N7443.4 .A645 N6 2009. Associates Endowment Fund, 2012/2013. Photograph by Petrina Jackson.)

This summer, RBS runs through the last week of July, including notable faculty such as our very own Curator and Blogger David Whitesell and Mark Dimunition, Chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress.  If you are looking for an intensive learning experience, surrounded by enthusiastic, like-minded people, and outstanding faculty, look no further than Rare Book School at the University of Virginia.  You may get to study from some of the treasures of the Special Collections Library.

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2 thoughts on “Class Notes from Rare Book School: A Special Collections Edition

  1. Dear Petrina, Many thanks for including Katherine and me in your Special Collections blog posting and in forwarding it to us. Fame indeed! We hope and expect to be back again next summer and will look forward to seeing you then. Yours, John Kristensen

  2. I spy with my little eye… a volume of Blaeu’s “Atlas major” from 1662! …the Cranach Press “Hamlet” illustrated by E. Gordon Craig! …both volumes of “Scènes de la vie privée et publique des animaux” with caricatures by J.J. Grandville! We examined more than fifty special collections titles in the “History of Printed Book Illustration in the West” class two weeks ago. Thanks so much for making our daily visit to the Small Special Collections Library a real treat.

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