I’ve returned from a fascinating week at the California Rare Book School.
When I arrived in Los Angeles last Sunday, I spent the afternoon walking around UCLA’s large campus, which I had not visited since I was a junior in high school and went to visit several California colleges in anticipation of applying for admission the following year. I saw the following sign above the door on one of the buildings and found it appropriate to the purpose of my present visit.
I took the course at Rare Book School because I want to educate myself about books as much as possible. I haven’t exactly sold books at the speed of light (e.g. working on my catalogue for over one year), but I want to take the time to learn about my trade along the way. I liked that sign. It reminded me that part of my chosen trade means indulging in the gift of education.
Last year I attend the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, which was a great introduction to the world of bookselling and book collecting. Rare Book School offers very specific courses, like Book Illustration Processes Until 1900 and the course I took, The Book in the West, with an emphasis on California. Rare book school was a good next step in furthering my bookseller’s education. While I was surrounded by booksellers at last year’s Colorado Seminar, this year I was the only bookseller in my class, which was largely made up of special collections librarians. Because of this class, I was introduced to the perspectives of librarians and book collectors, which, though mostly similar, also vary from the bookseller’s perspective on building a meaningful collection.
Unlike some college libraries, which are known to be “a groovy place for a frappucino”, the LCP Library at UCLA is like a basilica in its construction. The architectural details, the old red bricks, the interior tile work and wood-paneled reading room give it the feel of a true temple of learning. My footsteps on the Italian-style tile floors echoed in the quiet hush of people hunched over their books. I was impressed and I was at home in this monument to books.
More tomorrow on what I actually learned while I was away.
See you in the stacks!