Chapter 240 California Rare Book School

Well, hello.

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.

They should learn beforehand the knowledge which they will require for their art.” — Plato

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.

I liked this sign:

Here is a photo of the Lawrence Clark Powell Library:

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!


Filed under A Bookseller's Education

2 responses to “Chapter 240 California Rare Book School

  1. Welcome home Chris. It’s been very quiet while you’ve been away. Did you get to watch or hear any Olympic news while you were away? I am looking forward to reading all about your class. I do hope the boys coped while you were away and that noone had any accidents. Are the boys back in school yet? Canadian kids go back to School on September 2nd. Cheers

  2. I did see a bit of the Olympics, but missed most of it, sadly. Tom and Huck had a few adventures while I was away, which I will write about soon. They return to school next Monday, Aug. 25. Enjoy what remains of your summer!

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