Rare Books
Book Collecting Guide

Book collecting schools, classes & seminars

York Antiquarian Bookselling Seminar

The AbeBooks’ Book Collecting Guide offers a basic introduction to book collecting, but this topic is very broad and you can never have enough knowledge.  If you have read through our pages, and browsed all the books on this subject you can find, you should consider attending a book collecting seminar or course.  Here is a list of several different classes offered around the world.


Institut d'Histoire du Livre Book History Workshop

The Book History Workshop, organised by the Institut d'Histoire du Livre, is the European offshoot of the Rare Book School. Universally recognised by specialists in the field of book history, having begun in 2001, the Book History Workshop is held each year in Lyon, France, in early September.

London Rare Books School

The London Rare Books School (LRBS) comes together each summer for a series of five-day intensive courses on a variety of book-related subjects at the University of London.  The courses are taught by internationally renowned scholars associated with the university’s Centre for Manuscript and Print Studies, using the unrivalled library and museum resources of London, including the British Library, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the University of London Research Library Services.  Classes are restricted to 12 students, application forms can be downloaded from the LRBS website.

Ligatus Summer School

Held in various cities around Europe (Venice in 2011, Wolfenbuttel 2010, Thessaloniki 2009) and designed by the University of the Arts London, this course aims to help in identifying and recording bookbinding structures for conservation and cataloging.

Montefiascone Project

Montefiascone is a medieval walled Italian city located about half way between Rome and Siena. Each summer, conservators, archivists, art historians, librarians and others interested in the history and the structure of the book meet to participate in courses held within the city walls. The classes are put together by a non-profit organisation dedicating to saving the virtually derelict library of the Seminario Barbarigo.

Australia and New Zealand

Australasian Rare Book Summer School

The Australasian Rare Book Summer School is an annual event held alternately in New Zealand in odd years and Melbourne in even years, each year offering a tantalising mix of practical and theoretical subjects. The university or organisation holding the event changes each year so consult your local institution for details. It has been announced that in 2013 the University of Otago in Dunedin will be hosting the Australasian Rare Book (Summer) School. At the time of writing no website existed but Dr Donald Kerr, Special Collections Librarian at the University of Otago can offer details.

North America

Book History Workshop

Texas A&M offers a five-day workshop each May intended for librarians, archivists, students, teachers, collectors, and private individuals who have an interest in the first three and a half centuries of the printed book.  The workshop is intended to be an introductory course and features labs and seminars.

California Rare Book School

The UCLA Department of Information Studies puts together a series of week-long courses on various rare book topics such as cataloging, preservation stewardship of library collections, processes of illustration to 1900, and many more.  Admission requires a statement of purpose and you may be required to submit qualifications or curriculum vitae before being accepted.

Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar

For more than 30 years the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar has been taught by a group of booksellers, curators, and professors looking teach the intricacies of bookselling to bibliophiles of all levels of experience, from those just beginning to collect books to the seasoned lifelong bookseller.  AbeBooks offers an annual scholarship to this seminar.

Midwest Book & Manuscript Studies (MBMS)

Developed by the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) the MBMS offers a series of courses and workshops focused on special collections and the book arts.  They offer a graduate certificate open to library and information science professionals and students as well as summer classes that are also open to book lovers of all types.

Palmer School of Library and Information Science

The Palmer School of Library and Information Science offers a 36-credit Master of Science in Library and Information Science program with an opportunity to specialise in Rare Books and Special Collections. The Rare Books and Special Collections concentration is offered in Manhattan at the Palmer School facilities at New York University's Bobst Library. Other concentrations and certificate programs are also offered.

Rare Book School

The Rare Book School (RBS) has called the University of Virginia in home since 1992.  Each summer the school offers a large number of weeklong courses at the Charlottesville campus.  Additional course are occasionally held in the autumn and winter in satellite locations such as New York City, Washington D.C. and Baltimore.  Tuition is around $1100-1200 plus accommodation.

If you run an annual class, seminar or school dedicated to book collecting or rare book study and would like to list information on this page please send an email with full details to