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Melbourne Australasian Rare Books Summer School

Monday, 29 January 2018Friday, 2 February 2018
Five-day course $800, three-day course $500
Michelle P Brown, Maggie Finch, Derrick Moors & Richard Overell

Immerse yourself in the world of rare books at one of three intensive courses presented by leading experts.

The courses:

  • The medieval book, with Professor Michelle P Brown (former curator of manuscripts, British Library)
  • The transmission of images: photography and the photographic print, with Maggie Finch (Curator, Department of Photography, National Gallery of Victoria)
  • Rare book cataloguing, with Derrick Moors and Richard Overell (rare books cataloguers, State Library Victoria)

The medieval book

29 January – 2 February 2018, $800

Explore the styles, personalities and mechanics of manuscript culture during Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in this intensive course led by Michelle P Brown, former curator of manuscripts at the British Library.

Drawing on digital images, facsimiles and the medieval manuscript collection of State Library Victoria, study the principal trends, historical contexts and techniques of production of medieval manuscripts, delving into the stories of some of the individuals who commissioned and made these remarkable works.

This fascinating course includes a practical foundation, covering terminology and methods of description, cataloguing, and a brief survey of palaeography and codicology.

Professor Michelle P Brown is Professor Emerita of Medieval Manuscript Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. For many years she was Curator of Manuscripts at the British Library.

Michelle is the author of many books about manuscript culture, most recently Art of the islands: Celtic, Pictish, Anglo-Saxon and Viking visual culture, c. 450–1050 (Bodleian Library, 2016).

The transmission of images: photography and the photographic print

31 January – 2 February 2018, $500

Join Maggie Finch to explore photography and the photographic print, looking at key moments from the commercial introduction of the daguerreotype in 1839 to the digital technology of the present day.

Drawing on the rich and complementary collections of the NGV and State Library Victoria, this course will explore the transmission of images, from the photographic print in newspapers, books and magazines, to current digital platforms. The course will also present a special focus on the history of the photobook as a format, from its origins in the 19th century to its revived significance in the contemporary art scene.

The course will also offer opportunities to hear from conservation specialists and artists working in the medium of photography.

Participants will have the opportunity to view and discuss rare publications and photographs, including early-20th-century artists Man Ray and Claude Cahun; modern Australian artists Max Dupain and Olive Cotton; conceptual photo-book artist Ed Ruscha and Jan Dibbets; and 1970s and '80s feminist artists Sue Ford and Carol Jerrems.

Maggie Finch is Curator of Photography at the NGV. She has curated and co-curated numerous exhibitions at the NGV, including Patrick pound: the great exhibition (2017), Transmission: legacies of the television age (2015) and Endless present: Robert Rooney and conceptual art (2010) (with Cathy Leahy). She was Co-coordinating Curator of the Art Gallery of New South Wales' touring exhibition The mad square: modernity in German art 1910–1937.

Maggie has written on contemporary and historical photography; she is a member of the Exhibition Advisory Committee for the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Fitzroy and is co-Editor of the NGV Art journal.

Rare book cataloguing

31 January - 2 February 2018, $500

What goes into cataloguing pre-1800 rare books in the modern library? Join Richard Overell and Derrick Moors in this intensive introduction to the work of a rare books cataloguer, including the physical identification of books as well as the use of key print and digital reference tools (e.g. STC, Wing, ESTC, EEBO).

Engage with the Library's world-class collection of rare books, learning how to identify editions, provenance and format; how to recognise bindings; and how to transcribe early printed letter forms.

This hands-on experience is complemented with practical cataloguing tools such as constructing signature statements and applying correct citations from the standard bibliographies in accordance with the Library of Congress code for the Descriptive cataloguing of rare materials (books).

Richard Overell is a Rare Books Cataloguer at State Library Victoria. He previously worked as Rare Books Librarian at Monash University Library, where one of his major duties was the cataloguing of a wide range of rare books into the collection.

Derrick Moors is a Rare Books Cataloguer at State Library Victoria. Derrick has been cataloguing rare books at the Library since the 1980s.


Applications for the 13th Rare Books Summer School closed on Thursday 30 November 2017.


The fee for the five-day course is $800. The fee for each three-day course is $500.

Successful applicants will receive a link to our online payment system and must pay the full fee by Monday 15 January 2018. Payment via invoices can be arranged if your institution requires this – please contact us to discuss.

Further information

For more information, email rbss@slv.vic.gov.au.