Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials One introductory session to introduce students to Open Learning materialn. 2-3 further group sessions with internal module co-ordinator to support students’ progress on the module. Regular interaction with module authors / tutors via VLE.
Practical Practical talks are specified as part of the course work activities


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay ( 2,000 words)  50%
Semester Assessment Design a management policy (1,500) for a fictitious collection of rare books  50%
Supplementary Assessment Submission of supplementary coursework for failed course elements in line with the learning outcomes of the original assignments (failed component(s) only) 

Learning Outcomes

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

* Describe the nature and purpose of rare book libraries

* Outline the history of the printed book in Western Europe, especially in Britain

  • Outline the general principles of the printing process in the hand-press period and state the principal physical characteristics of a book thus printed

* Critically interpret the roles of the various tradesmen and craftsmen within the book trade, such as printer, bookseller, binder, papermaker, compositor

* Critically analyse the main curatorial and management problems facing a rare books librarian, including book identification, security, conservation, information technology, and reader services

* Devise and justify a promotional strategy for a rare books collection

Brief description

This module provides a general introduction to this specialist field. It gives a brief overview of the development of the printed book in the hand-press period (to c. 1850) especially in England, and examines the problems of identifying and making available valuable and early printed materials in libraries. Students will be given the opportunity to see a working rare books collection and to discuss with a rare books librarian the challenges of managing these resources.


Unit One: Concepts and Issues
What is a rare book?
Types of rare books
History of printing

Unit Two: Book production on the hand-press
Naming of parts
Book formats
Printing on the hand press
Printing today

Unit Three: The book trade: its personnel and organisation
Employment in the book trade
The book trade and its environment

Unit Four: Identifying rare books and interpreting imprints
Identifying English books printed before 1800
Interpreting imprints
Identifying the roles of people named in imprints
Cataloguing rare books

Unit Five: Care of the Collections
Planning for disaster

Unit Six: Promoting your rare books library or special collection
Who uses the collections?
Income generation
IT requirements

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Writing and presentation skills (written skills assessed only)
Improving own Learning and Performance Students are set activities which involve reflection on practices in their workplace and suggestions for the acquisition of relevant new skills (such as promotion, and disaster planning)
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 Several activities in the module set tasks which involve identification of problems and of factors which might influence potential solutions
Research skills Several activities involve a researched follow-up to taught examples
Subject Specific Skills Identification and analysis of elements of early printed books; reading room management for rare books; promotion; disaster planning; interpretation of Latin Imprints
Team work N/A


This module is at CQFW Level 7