Which library schools offer courses in rare books and manuscripts librarianship?
Many library schools offer courses in rare books and manuscripts. Some offer degrees with special concentrations, such as archives administration or rare books librarianship.¹
The Rare Books and Manuscripts Section's Educational Opportunities Directory lists courses available in special collections librarianship at accredited library schools in the United States and Canada. (Note that many schools in the directory offer only one or two specialized courses. ) The Society of American Archivists' Directory of Archival Education provides comprehensive listings of archival programs.
Library schools offering concentrations in rare book librarianship include:
- Indiana University Bloomington SLIS: MLS with Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarianship Specialization
- Palmer School of Library & Information Science: MSLIS with a concentration in Rare Books and Special Collections
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign GSLIS: Graduate Certificate in Special Collections
- University of Iowa: Joint MA in Library and Information Science and Graduate Certificate in Book Studies
It is possible to prepare for a career in rare books and manuscripts even without access to specialized classes. The Membership and Professional Development Committee of RBMS has stated that "substantial rare book or archival experience can be gained if [students] approach their course of study creatively, through internships and independent study [...] for example, by taking general courses in librarianship, slanting their work toward special collections librarianship where possible through independent projects, pursuing other workshops and courses offered outside their institution, and by serving as an intern in a good special collections library."² On the other hand, it is important to note that some positions do require specific graduate coursework. A search of job listings should help you to determine the current requirements for your area of interest.
REFERENCES / NOTES
1. Note: RBMS has no role in the accreditation of rare book and manuscript education and training programs, institutes, or courses. Inclusion of a program on this page does not imply endorsement or approval by RBMS. Those interested in particular schools or programs are encouraged to contact the institutions directly for the most complete and up-to-date information.
2. Membership and Professional Development Committee of RBMS. “Educational Opportunities: A Directory,” http://www.rbms.info/committees/membership_and_professional/educational_...