I was very fortunate to spend the first week of June attending Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Spending time with fellow bibliophiles in a place steeped in such rich history was a true gift for this librarian. I “lived” on campus, and although dorm life wasn’t as comfortable for me as it was twenty years ago as a college student, it was perfect in terms of location and convenience. I had a short walk to all of the places I needed to go: Alderman Library (the main library and home to Rare Book School), Small Special Collections Library (the destination for our class “field trip”), and The Corner (a historic district where various shops and restaurants are located).
The week started on Sunday afternoon with a campus tour, followed by a welcome reception in Alderman Library hosted by the director and staff of Rare Book School. Monday through Friday, from 8:30-5:00, I attended Rare Book Cataloging class at Alderman Library. Each class consisted of four periods, separated by short breaks in the morning and afternoon and a longer break for lunch. I was one of twelve students (the perfect size), and our instructor, Deborah J. Leslie, was absolutely incredible. She is the Senior Cataloger at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and I am so grateful to her for the knowledge, expertise, and resources she shared.
Highlights from the week included a “field trip” to the Small Special Collections Library, a reception honoring Rare Book School instructors who recently published books, Booksellers’ Night in downtown Charlottesville, and several dinners out with fellow classmates. It was great fun getting to know catalog librarians from diverse institutions all over the country who share a passion for rare books.
Rare Book School ended with a closing reception on Friday evening, but my adventure wasn’t complete. I couldn’t visit Charlottesville and the University of Virginia without stopping at Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. Therefore, I spent all of Saturday touring the house, garden, and grounds. It was the perfect ending to an amazing week.
Now that I have returned to IHS and resumed my daily cataloging routine, I will endeavor to put the skills I learned to good use. My ultimate goal is to provide you, our valued patrons, with high quality records. Hopefully, my experience at Rare Book School will help me achieve this goal!