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!
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!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.