The Rare Book School at the University of Virginia is a global leader in the study of the history of print and its preservation. In its 25 years on Grounds, the school has trained students from all over the world in the careful art of conserving the written word, spanning everything from medieval manuscripts to digital materials and digital forensics.
“To study the history of print is to study the record of human aspiration and achievement, to study the record of human loss and love,” professor Michael Suarez, director of the Rare Book School, said.
Throughout the year, the program offers about 50 five-day, non-credit courses covering topics related to old and rare books, manuscripts and special collections. The student profile varies, but the school is primarily a resource for professionals who work in research, preservation or education fields.
In the space of a year, it may welcome more than 500 students from 20 countries, all intent on learning from the unique expertise and materials available at UVA. Courses cover broad topics like bookbinding, spotting forgeries and tracing provenance, as well as specific topic areas such as “The Bible and Histories of Reading” and “The Books of the Plays: Shakespeare & Print.”
In every course, students have the opportunity for an in-depth look at the rare materials they’re studying. “One of the great glories of Rare Book School is its teaching collection – 80,000 items acquired and interpreted expressly for the hands-on teaching of the history of the book in all its many forms,” Suarez said.
View the video above for an inside look at the work Suarez describes, and stop by to see the Rare Book School during its 25th anniversary open house Wednesday, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., in Alderman Library. Additional event details are available on the Rare Book School website.