John Schulman, co-owner of Caliban Book Shop along with his wife Emily Hetzel, wrote a fantastic blog post for the New Antiquarian, the blog of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America, about this year’s conference and the importance of attending RBMS. We’ve excerpted his post below. Visit The New Antiquarian to read the post in its entirety.
“The Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) is a division of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), which itself is part of the American Library Association (ALA). As the RBMS website states, “RBMS strives to represent and promote the interests of librarians who work with rare books, manuscripts, and other types of special collections.”
Each year, the RBMS holds a conference in a different city: dinners are organized; there are plenary sessions on topics of interest to special collections librarians, and there is also a “showcase” in which ABAA members who sign up can exhibit some of their items. This represents a rare opportunity for ABAA members to connect with special collections librarians, have conversations, gain some understanding of how librarians think, operate, make decisions, acquire items, etc. It also affords librarians the chance to get to know some dealers that they may only know of through their catalogs or on-line listings. For both dealers and librarians, this conference can be a valuable few days: sales are made, connections forged, friendships can flourish, and the human dimension becomes for many the most enriching part of such a conference. This year, the conference is in New Orleans, June 19-22.
The conference is sold out and is not open to the public. But it is important for the public to know that the ABAA engages in many good works on behalf of the world of rare books and that, while we are essentially a trade organization, we have a vested interest in preserving interest in rare books, in supporting institutions that have special collections, and in contributing both materially and educationally to future generations of librarians, readers, collectors, dealers, binders, and conservators. The ABAA takes great pride in its sponsorship of the RBMS conferences and in contributing to scholarships to Rare Book School at the University of Virginia and to the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar. The ABAA also manages both the Woodburn Fund and the Benevolent Fund. It is important for the public to realize that we take these responsibilities seriously: to value the past and to embrace the future.”