Continuing Education and Professional Development

Several organizations offer opportunities for continuing education and professional development in the fields of Rare Books and Manuscripts through formal instruction, workshops, lectures, and programs. There are also numerous opportunities for self-guided development through recommended reading lists and other independent study resources.

Some opportunities are listed here and organized by format or institutional association, but this list is by no means exhaustive. If you wish to have your association, event, or institution’s resources listed, please contact the list coordinators at

Formal Instruction

Rare Book School (RBS)

“Rare Book School offers around 30 five-day, non-credit courses on topics concerning old and rare books, manuscripts, and special collections. The majority of courses take place at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, but courses are also offered in New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Haven, and Washington, DC.”

Rare Book School also maintains a page of related institutions.

Tuition: Tuition for most courses during the 2104 schedule is $1195


Book History Workshop at Texas A&M University

Held annually during the month of May at the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, the 5-day workshop is an intensive, hands-on introduction to the history of books and printing. The workshop is often referred to as “Gaskell in 3D” because students complete the tasks outlined in the seminal work: typecasting, papermaking, bookbinding, illustration, and ink-making. Student set ype, prepare it for the press, and print a pamphlet on a period-accurate common press.

Tution: Tuition for the Workshop is $1000. There is a $100 deposit due at the time of admittance.

Housing Options: Housing options are available at a nearby commercial dormitory. Average costs are $37/night. Local hotels are also an option.


California Rare Book School (CalRBS)

Founded in 2005, The California Rare Book School is a project of the Department of Information Studies in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies (GSE&IS) at UCLA.  It is a continuing education program dedicated to providing the requisite knowledge and skills for professionals working in all aspects of the rare book community, and for students interested in entering the field.

What is offered: Week-long courses covering a broad range of topics. See a list of upcoming courses.

Tuition: Tuition for a single course is $995. Students who enroll in more than one course receive a $95 discount per course. Tuition does not include travel expenses, unless a full-scholarship is received.


Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar

The Antiquarian Book Market Seminar began in 1978 as the result of a collaboration between Dean Margaret Goggin of the Graduate School of Librarianship and Information Management at the University of Denver and Jacob L. Chernofsky, editor and publisher of AB Bookmans’ Weekly.

Now in its 37th year, the Antiquarian Book Seminar provides an opportunity for leading specialists to share their expertise and experience with booksellers, librarians, and collectors in a comprehensive survey of the rare book market, both antiquarian and modern.

Today the Antiquarian Book Seminar is a nonprofit organization, offering nearly a dozen scholarships annually. Nearly 3,000 students have graduated from the seminar since its inception, many of whom have gone on to become prominent members of the bookselling community.

The Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America and the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar have shared a close relationship since the time of the Seminar’s inception in 1978, and the goals of the Seminar continue to be supported by the ABAA.

Tuition: As of 2015, the fee for the Antiquarian Book Seminar is $1,500.00 and includes all instructional materials, Sunday evening reception, Monday picnic, Friday farewell dinner, transportation to off-site sessions, and daily breaks.

Contact: Kathy Lindeman, Local Coordinator

The Center for Book Arts (NY, NY)

The Center for Book Arts in New York was founded in 1974 and was the first not-for-profit organization of its kind. “The Center for Book Arts is dedicated to preserving the traditional artistic practices of book-making, as well as exploring and encouraging contemporary interpretations of the book as an art object. […] Its work is channeled through five program areas: exhibitions related to the arts of the book; lectures on topics of interest to book artists and craftspeople; a modest publication schedule; services to artists, both established and emerging and, much the most prominent currently, an extensive offering of classes. Each year the Center offers three terms of courses, workshops and seminars taught by experienced book artists, and providing hands-on training in all aspects of traditional and contemporary bookmaking, including bookbinding, letterpress printing, papermaking, and other associated arts.”

What is offered: The Center for Book Arts offers a certificate program consisting of 210 hours of class time. The certificate program is not approved by the New York State Board of Education Certificate Program. Classes are also offered on an individual basis and in a summer intensive format.

Tuition: Individual classes range from $300-375. Certificate students pay a one-time $100 enrollment fee in addition to course costs.

Contact: or contact Sarah Nicholls at for more information and to register for the certificate program.

London Rare Books School

London Rare Books School (LRBS) offers five-day intensive courses on a variety of rare books-related topics.  The courses consist of about twenty hours of course time spread out over thirteen seminars, and are taught in and near Senate House at the University of London, which houses the Senate House Library as well as the University’s administrative offices.  Past courses have focused on bibliography, the British book trade, medieval illumination, and paleography.

Tuition: In 2015 courses cost £600, not including accommodation or travel to any offsite visits.  Scholarships are available through the Antiquarian Booksellers Association and the Bibliographical Society.

Application information can be found here.

Midwest Book and Manuscript Studies

The Midwest Book and Manuscript Studies program is offered through a partnership of the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information ScienceRare Book and Manuscript Library, and Soybean Press. The MBMS program offers a series of courses and workshops focused on special collections and the book arts. Drawing on leaders in the field as instructors, these programs cover a variety of topics concerning (1) the history of manuscripts and books, addressing the unique skills and approaches to maintaining all types of special collections, and (2) preserving the fine art of bookmaking, including bookbinding, paper making, and letterpress printing.

What is offered: The Certificate in Special Collections is a 12-credit-hour graduate certificate open to LIS professionals and students. One and two-week summer intensive courses on rare books, manuscripts, and special collections are available on a graduate credit (2 credit hours), continuing education credit, or non-credit basis and open to students, LIS professionals, and book lovers of all types. One and two-day book arts and preservation workshops are open to all.


The San Francisco Center for the Book

“The San Francisco Center for the Book is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that fosters the joy of books and bookmaking, the history, artistry, and continuing presence of books in our culture and enduring importance as a medium of self-expression. We provide both a home for Bay Area book artists and a place where the wider community can discover book arts. Everyone is welcome here, experienced practitioners and newcomers alike. Over 300 workshops annually offer learning at all levels: from introductory to focused advanced courses spanning traditional bookbinding, cutting-edge printing techniques and experimental book forms. Exhibitions are designed to inform and inspire visitors. Free public programs include opening receptions for the exhibition program, poetry readings, book release parties for our publications, gallery talks, Open Houses and other community events like the annual Earth Day Extravaganza and Roadworks Street Fair.”

What is offered: “San Francisco Center for the Book offers more than 300 workshops each year in three broad categories: Printing, Binding, and Related Arts.” The Center also offers non-academic certificates in Letterpress Printing and Hand Bookbinding. Courses meet from 1-6 times.

Tuition: Tuition covers the cost of the workshop and materials and can range from $70-550 depending on the length of the workshop and materials required.


Programs, Conferences, and Seminars

Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS): Preconference

RBMS usually holds its Preconference in June, just before the ALA Annual Conference. In recent years, the preconference has been three-and-a-half-days long. This includes an optional full-day workshop, which provides training in areas such as cataloging/archival description, instruction techniques, copyright issues and new technologies. A different preconference theme is chosen each year, with plenary speeches and panel discussions addressing related topics. Themes in recent years have included “O Rare! Performance in Special Collections” (2013), and “Join or Die: Collaboration in Special Collections” (2010).

Society of American Archivists (SAA): Annual Meeting and Continuing Education

The SAA offers several educational programs. The Annual Meeting is about one week long and typically meets at the end of August. Optional intensive workshops take up the first few days, with the remaining days featuring panel discussions, brown bag meetings, exhibitions, and other offerings on current topics in the archives field. In addition to this, the SAA gives short intensive classes (usually 1-2 days long) throughout the year both online and at locations across the United States. Recent topics have included descriptive standards, digitization, copyright issues, space planning and archives management.

Center for Historic American Visual Culture (CHAViC)

The Center for Historic American Visual Culture (CHAViC) at the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) was established in 2005 with the goal of providing opportunities for “educators on all levels to learn about American visual culture and resources, promote the awareness of AAS collections, and stimulate research and intellectual inquiry into American visual materials.” Seminars are held during summer and include workshops and lectures.

Cost: Cost for this year’s seminar is $750, which includes lunch each day and two evening meals. Limited financial aid is available.

Workshops through Regional Archival Associations

Regional archival associations frequently present workshops. The SAA’s Directory of Archival Organizations in the United States and Canada provides contact information for nearly 70 national, regional, state, provincial, and local professional archival associations. Contact an organization near you to find out about the workshops being offered.

Independent Study Resources

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