Introduction to Advanced Rare Books Librarianship

[Please note that this CPD Short Course is not available September 2019 - Summer 2020 because it is being revised.]

This is the second of two Short Courses on rare-books librarianship. It provides a more detailed introduction to this 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 the problems involved in creating descriptive bibliographies and catalogues of early printed materials.

This Short Course will enable students to consider the book as a physical object (typography, bindings, illustration, evidence of ownership) and to understand its place in the modern scholarly context.


Jennie Hill BA MA MScEconDirector of Learning and Teaching and lecturer Department of Information Studies Aberystwyth University.

Jennie has a wealth of experience working in information and archive posts including:

In addition to modules in archives and recordkeeping, Jennie also teaches rare books and special collections. Her research interests centre on engagement with the past in all its guises, but particularly interdisciplinary engagement with archives, public history and heritage, collecting, and the history of libraries and recordkeeping. Jennie’s publications include:

  • Hill, J. (2010) ed. The Future of Archives and Recordkeeping, Facet
  • Lane, V. and Hill, J. (2010) Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? Situating the Archive and Archivists, in Hill, J. ed. The Future of Archives and Recordkeeping, Facet.
  • Hill, J. and Slocombe, W. (2010) No Larkin Around: The Serious Business of Contemporary Literary Archives, Archives: The Journal of the British Records Association, 35(122), 1-10.
  • Co-editor of special issue of Archives on literary archives including contributions from Jamie Andrews, GLAM, Christine Faunch, Jeff Cowton, David McClay and Peter Barry. Archives: The Journal of the British Records Association, 35 (122) April 2010.
  • Hill, J. and Taylor, M. (2009) Taking Off: encouraging deeper learning and cohort identity through dialogic learning, in Gaskill, A. and Mills, R. eds. Supporting Learning in the Digital Age: rethinking inclusion, pedagogy and quality: collected conference papers and abstracts (Cambridge, September 22-25 2009), 222-229.


Students should have an interest in the history of the book. It is helpful to have access to a rare books collection, but this isn’t essential for studying the module successfully.

Students taking this short course ideally should have successfully completed the DS36210 Introduction to Rare Books Librarianship Short Course.


Learning Outcomes

After completing this short course you 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
  • explain 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
  • explain 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 or creating new ones
  • explain the place of the rare book in the contemporary academic and commercial context


To apply please complete the Short Course Application Form. Return it - with your reference - to Aberystwyth Postgraduate Admissions Office on, before the application deadline date.

For further information, please contact the please contact Information Studies tel: (+/0)1970 622188; e-mail: