Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Rare Books and Special Collections
Academic Year
Distance Learning
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Study  3000 Words  50%
Semester Assessment Report  3000 Words  50%
Supplementary Assessment Study  3000 Words  50%
Supplementary Assessment Report  3000 Words  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

Discuss the nature and purpose of rare books libraries and special collections

Outline and critically assess significant developments in the history of the printed book in Western Europe, especially in Britain

Identify and explain the principal characteristics of printed books in the hand-press period (up to 1850)

Analyse the main management issues facing the custodians of rare books and special collections;

Critically assess the provision of services offered by Rare Books Libraries and Special Collections

Select and apply the appropriate tools, standards, and procedures to manage a rare book collection

Brief description

This module provides an introduction to working with rare books It provides an overview of the history and development of the book in the hand press period (up to c.1850) as well as strategies for managing their care, promotion and access.


This module is comprised of two strands. The first of these is concerned with the book as a physical artefact. Here we will explore the history of printing, with a particular focus on printing in Europe and England up to c.1850. We will explore how technology and book production develops in this period, including changes to illustration and binding. We will additionally consider the importance of books and libraries in terms of provenance research. The second part of the module is concerned with the curation of rare book collections. In this part of the module we will explore how to appropriately care for rare books to safeguard their future; how to develop your collections; and how to provide appropriate catalogues and procedures for accessing material. Although the focus of the module is on rare books up to 1850 we will additionally explore related items you might find in your collections, including newspapers, pamphlets, chapbooks, broadsides, fine press books, ephemera and other relevant items.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Writing and presentation skills
Critical and analytical thinking Developing ways of managing a collection of rare books and setting priorities for its development
Digital capability Use of several technologies to produce written work, including library and specialist catalogues and databases and writing and presentation software.
Professional communication Producing assignments that reflect common professional activities
Subject Specific Skills Identification and analysis of elements of early printed book; reading room management for rare books; promotion ; disaster planning; interpretation of Latin imprints.


This module is at CQFW Level 7