Careers in Rare Books and Manuscripts: Frequently Asked Questions / Education / Continuing Education
Where can I find continuing education resources for librarians interested in rare books and manuscripts?
Several organizations offer continuing education in rare books and manuscripts, including:
Rare Book School (RBS)
An independent private institution affiliated with the University of Virginia, RBS offers a wide range of short intensive courses on topics related to rare books and manuscripts. Most of the courses are offered in Charlottesville, Virginia; courses are also offered in New York City, Baltimore, and Washington DC. Related institutions offer classes in several other cities in the United States, as well as locations in Europe. The importance of RBS to continuing education in special collections is widely recognized. When Director Terry Belanger won the MacArthur Fellowship in 2005, the MacArthur Foundation offered the following description: "The RBS functions as an independent, non-profit institute devoted to the histories of manuscripts, print, electronic text, and everything in between. It transcends the limitations of traditional degree programs by making its wide-ranging offerings available to a broad range of professionals interested in studying and preserving these cultural artifacts."¹
Rare Book and Manuscript Section (RBMS): Preconference Programs
RBMS usually holds its Preconference in June, just before the ALA Annual Conference. In recent years, the preconference has been three-and-a-half-days long. This includes an optional full-day workshop, which provides training in areas such as cataloging/archival description, instruction techniques, copyright issues and new technologies. A different preconference theme is chosen each year, with plenary speeches and panel discussions addressing related topics. Themes in recent years have included "Special Collections in the Digital Age" (2008), "Ephemera" (2007), and "Libraries, Archives and Museums" (2006).
Rare Book and Manuscript Section (RBMS): Regional Workshops
The RBMS Regional Workshops Committee organizes workshops throughout the year in various locations across the United States. Watch for notices of upcoming workshops on the RBMS electronic discussion list.
Society of American Archivists (SAA): Annual Meeting and Continuing Education
The SAA offers several educational programs. The Annual Meeting is about one week long and typically meets at the end of August. Optional intensive workshops take up the first few days, with the remaining days featuring panel discussions, brown bag meetings, exhibitions, and other offerings on current topics in the archives field. In addition to this, the SAA gives short intensive classes (usually 1-2 days long) throughout the year at locations across the United States. Recent topics have included descriptive standards, digitization, copyright issues, space planning and archives management.
Workshops through Regional Archival Associations
Regional archival associations frequently present workshops. The SAA’s Directory of Archival Organizations in the United States and Canada provides contact information for nearly 70 national, regional, state, provincial, and local professional archival associations. Contact an organization near you to find out about the workshops being offered.
Independent study is also possible. For lists of reading materials and other study aids, try:
Rare Book School: Advance Reading Lists
Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing: Teaching Resources
RBMS Bibliographic Standards Committee: Directory of Web Resources for the Rare Materials Cataloger
Conservation Online: Resources for Conservation Professionals
“Terry Belanger,” John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation: MacArthur Fellows, 2005, http://www.macfound.org/fellows/751/