Monday, June 14, 2010

Report from the Field: RBS Days 7-9

[Note: For previous installments, go here and work backward.]

Let's see, I left off last on Friday morning, just before the last day of class. During the morning sessions we went over the practice we'd done on Thursday afternoon to hone our format-detection and collation skills, and David then spent some time going through various forms of bibliographic descriptions to show that they'll (quite naturally) vary widely depending on the purpose of the description (auction catalog, library record, bibliographic treatment of a printer or author, &c.).

During the lunch hour on Friday the staff met to get the game plan for the next week's session, and then the classes met for their final period, to finish up the discussion of bibliographic descriptions. One of the (many) really interesting things David noted in these lectures was that bibliographers have not ever quite managed to follow a good pattern when emerges: if a bibliographic essay or guidebook appears that is regarded as very useful, nobody continues it by using the model for another location or time period. This, he suggested (and I thoroughly agree) hampers the furtherance of scholarship, and bibliographers should be more attuned to what's working for others and put it to use in their own work.

Following the final class session we filled out the course evaluations, which are an important part of the RBS structure: they're posted online following the class for prospective students to consult in choosing their classes. Once those were done and returned, the group returned to the RBS pressroom for the final reception, a chance to continue conversations begun earlier in the week and (in the case of my classmates at least, promises to be in touch when we're in each others' respective cities so that we can see their institutions). There was also much buying of mugs, publications and other RBS goodies.

On Friday evening the staff got together for a dinner party, which featured a bibliographic murder mystery (which, as it turned out, was rather complicated to plan from scratch in less than a week, but was quite entertaining - no other crowd would have been so amused by the scenario, I suspect, but some folks really took the ball and ran with it, which made for a very entertaining and enjoyable evening). And there was food - a great deal of food, all delicious. A lovely way to end the week, and getting to spend it with such an energetic and dynamic group was really delightful.

There was no time to waste, though, and by noon on Saturday we had all returned to RBS to finish returning materials from last week's classes and get things going for the classes that begin this morning. The class I'm "following" this week (making sure everything's where it needs to be, basically) is John Bidwell and Tim Barrett's "History of European and American Papermaking," which features some hands-on papermaking workshops and lots of great samples of paper to look at. We spent some of the day preparing to move things over to that classroom, but were deterred from that by a massive thunderstorm (which made rolling carts full of paper samples and books outside not a very good idea at all).

We turned instead to pulling some of the hundreds (quite literally) of binding examples that will be shown in "Introduction to the History of Bookbinding" this week - those students are in for some very serious "shock and awe" with all the amazing bindings they're going to get a chance to see this week. We worked on that and pulling for other courses until a halt was called for our dinner break; joined by the faculty members who were present and finalizing preparation for their classes, we had a very relaxing and pleasant supper, followed by some of Vince Golden's famous and amazing card tricks.

Yesterday morning was spent in pulling the rest of the materials for this week's classes, and then getting all the materials moved over to the classrooms and ready to go. Once the faculty members for my classes arrived I met with them and made sure they had everything they needed and were all set to go, and we collected the rest of their materials and got them over to the classroom. Prep-work continued until just before 5, and then we welcomed the new group of students, with a reception and remarks by Michael Suarez. Following that we finished up the last few elements of setup, including the classroom for a new RBS class, "Born Digital Materials: Theory and Practice" (which looks, at the moment, a bit like a Home for Aged Computers; those students are also in for a big treat this week; the class sounds completely and totally fascinating).

All that setup (especially in a swelteringly hot day) made for a pretty exhausting Sunday, but once again it was invigorating too, and at the end of the day it really felt like we'd gotten something major accomplished. Things kick off in about an hour as classes begin, so I'm off to help make sure everything's still where it needs to be!

1 comment:

bruce said...

I've just followed your links to the history of bookbinding class and found the reading list, which I've now printed off - that should keep me going for a while.