U-Va.’s Rare Book School: A ‘summer camp for book nerds’

August 28, 2014

At the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School, what the books say is not as important as how they were made. (Lee Powell/The Washington Post)

PostTV hit the books this summer.

The Rare Book School is like going to college for a week at the University of Virginia. More applicants apply than are accepted to the school, and even though there is no credit, this is specialized learning: The curriculum stretches from “History of the Book, 200-2000″ to “Analytical Bibliography.”

“It’s pretty rare to be around a lot of people who want to study books qua books, books as material objects,” said Aaron Pratt, a Yale graduate student.

For Elizabeth Yale from the Center for the Book at the University of Iowa, it’s  “summer camp for book nerds.”

Course offerings draw Ph.D students, booksellers, librarians and other book enthusiasts – even 16-year-old Aidan Kahn, here with his dad, Ian, both booksellers.

The students get to escape the e-book, everything-on-a-screen world to revel in the old: Handling ancient tomes, examinging woodcuts, studying typography. And even smearing some ink and doing printing of their own.

Follow @LeePowellTV on Twitter. 

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Emily Yahr · August 28, 2014