Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Advanced Rare Books Librarianship
Academic Year
Distance Learning
Access to a working rare books collection.
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 2,500 words - weighted 60% 
Semester Assessment A quasi-facsimile transcription  inc. catalogue entry and commentary (1500 word equivalent) - weighted 40% 

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:

  • Discuss the development of the printed book and some of its major participants in continental Europe.

* Analyse the principal physical characteristics of page layout in a printed book of the hand-press period.

* Identify the principal methods of book binding and problems of their conservation

* Explain the different methods of book illustration

* Outline the purposes and techniques of descriptive bibliography

* Write a bibliographical description of a printed book

* Transcribe a simple handwritten text of the early modern period

* Outline the use of provenance evidence in book history

* Describe the different types of catalogues and bibliographies used in rare-books collections

* Create appropriate MARC catalogue records for a collection of early printed books by re-using existing machine-readable records to creating new ones

* Examine the place of the rare book in the contemporary academic and commercial context

Brief description

This is the second of two modules on rare-books librarianship. It provides a more detailed examination of aspects of the specialist field, looking in particular at the development of the printed book in continental Europe in the hand-press period (to approximately 1850) and examining involved in creating descriptive bibliographies and catalogues of early printed materials.
This module will enable students to consider the book as a physical object (typography, bindings, illustration, evidence of ownership) and to understandits place in the modern scholarly context.


  • Unit One: History of the book; The Continental Book
The geography of early printing; Elements of page layout in early printed books; Scholar printers of the Renaissance; Christopher Plantin, prince of printers, 1520(?)-1589; The rise of the publisher

  • Unit Two: The look of the book; binding and illustration
Book binding; Management of a bindings collection; Book illustration; Some aids to identification of technique

  • Unit Three: Descriptive bibliography
What do we mean by "bibliography"? Bibliographies and catalogues; Edition, issue and state; Transcription; The collation formula; Ideal copy; Typographical analysis; Page measurements; Analysis of contents; Census of copies; Copy-specific information; Annotation and notes; Setting out a description

  • Unit Four: Traces of Ownership
The study of handwriting; Provenance information

  • Unit Five: Catalogues and cataloguing
Types of rare-books catalogue; MARC cataloguing; Copy-specific details; Retro-conversion; Book-in-hand cataloguing; form-based cataloguing; on-line cataloguing; Derived cataloguing; Indexing issues

  • Unit Six: Beyond the Book
Policy issues; Describing non-book collections; Museum objects; Photographic materials; Scrapbooks and albums; Printed ephemera; Newspapers; Maps; Sound recordings


The module aims to allow student who have successfully completed module DS36210 Introduction to Rare Books Librarianship to:

  • increase their knowledge of the history of the printed book and its associated technologies;
  • increase their awareness of the curatorial problems involved in managing rare book collections;
  • learn the skills of bibliographical analysis and description and specialist problems of rare books cataloguing.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Writing and presentation skills
Improving own Learning and Performance Implicitly, by building on materials from the Introductory module and development of skills within this module
Information Technology Use of web-based catalogues and databases; use of web-based conference facilities
Personal Development and Career planning Use of the library working environment in activities and assignments in a specialist area of library and information studies
Problem solving Analysis and description of the physical make-up and appearance of early printed books.
Research skills Several activities involve a researched follow-up to taught examples
Subject Specific Skills Bibliographical analysis and description, rare-books cataloguing, identification of engraving techniques, provenance research


This module is at CQFW Level 6