Learn the Book Trade at these 5 Rare Book Schools
Though the independent book trade is still alive and well, the widespread, on demand availability of books that has resulted from the rise of the internet has undeniably hurt the book trade. Always a specialized skill set, those who truly study and know the value of rare books are quickly becoming a dying breed. As with any specialty, training and knowledge is required to learn the craft of book dealing and become an expert in the field. In the book trade, most of this knowledge is handed down from the older generation of booksellers to the younger. However, if you are not in the position to learn first-hand from a book mentor, there are other options available to you. Here are some of the finest book training programs available to those who want to begin a career in the rare book trade or simply want to deepen there knowledge and move their career in a bookish direction.
Founded in 2005, The California Rare Book School is an intensive continuing education program for those currently in the book trade or those wanting to learn more about the business. Classes are primarily held on the UCLA campus, with fall offerings hosted in the Bay Area. The school’s 2018 course offerings include the history of the book, the history of typography, medieval books & manuscripts, and preservation of motion picture materials, among many other fascinating areas of study.
The Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar is a week-long seminar held in Colorado Springs, Colorado. All aspects of the book trade are covered in this in-depth training, including setting up a book database, how to spot forgeries, cataloging systems, and how to sell to auction houses and libraries. Many scholarships are available to help cover the cost of attending the seminar. This intense week of rare book training is an invaluable asset to those who work in the library sciences, collecting and curating, and private book dealing.
For those more interested in the publishing side of the business, Portland State University offers a Master’s degree in writing with a specialization in book publishing. The program is thorough in preparing students for careers in publishing, even making it a requirement to work at Ooligan Press, a publishing house staffed entirely by publishing students. Students not only have the opportunity to gain an in-depth overview of the publishing industry in their work, but they are also able to choose from a selection of specializations, including Editing, Design, and Marketing.
The Rare Book School in Charlottesville, Virginia is a non-profit institution dedicated to supporting the study of books, printing, and similar interests. The School found its home at the University of Virginia in 1992 and offers 30 five-day courses. While some of the classes are primarily directed towards antiquarian booksellers, collectors, bookbinders, and other book professionals, others are designed for archivists, curators, and research librarians.
For those living abroad or wanting to study abroad, there is the London Rare Book School, taught at the University of London. With access to the magnificent manuscripts from the libraries and museums of London, the class sizes at the London Rare Book School are purposefully kept small so that each student gets a chance to get up close and personal with the rare books and manuscripts available to the school. Some of the courses of study offered at the rare book school are color printing, children’s books, music publishing, and forbidden books.