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Ian Dooley

Ian is a full-time American student who, before studying the MA in History of the Book, worked for a number of years in rare books and special collections libraries.

Please could you introduce yourself and provide a short overview of your experiences at the Institute of English Studies. 

Before studying for my MA at IES I had worked for a number of years in rare books and special collections libraries. My librarianship background led me to an interest in the history of the book. Now, more knowledgeable than ever in my area of interest, I feel confident about applying to higher level special collection positions as well as furthering my post graduate study in the history of the book.  

Why did you choose to study the MA in History of the Book? 

I wanted to gain a broader knowledge of book history, from manuscript culture to the present day. As a rare book librarian, this knowledge is useful because it allows me to work with all the material I might find in my collection. The MA also allowed me to gain further specialized knowledge through my research for courses and my dissertation.     

What aspect of the MA course have you most enjoyed so far? 

I most enjoyed getting to study under renowned scholars in the discipline. All of our tutors are experts in their subject areas and fantastic teachers. Through our course tutors I was able to learn about various approaches to book history and feel encouraged to explore the topics which I found most compelling. I also enjoyed getting access to relevant collections material, whether at Senate House Library or visiting other institutions.  

What facilities and resources are on offer and have you made use of at the Institute and School of Advanced Study? 

Senate House Library has an excellent collection of physical and digital material for the study of book history. It is important to have access to journals and books that are not available digitally as well as a host of ever-expanding e-resources.  

What is your experience of the teaching and teaching practices at the Institute? 

Teachers are available in diverse subject areas and approaches and are adept at applying their specialties to the classroom. I found all of our course tutors inspiring and knowledgeable as well as concerned with and encouraging of students’ interests.  

How do you think your experience of studying the MA course will help you in the future?  

The MA gave me a well-rounded background in the whole history of books, printing, publishing, authorship, and reading. As a librarian, this knowledge allows me to understand the diverse interests of researchers who visit my collection. The MA provides me with a wide understanding with which I can explore my diverse research interest in different periods of book history.  

What would you say to someone who is considering studying the MA course? 

I would encourage anyone who has an interest in book history to study this MA. Book history is a niche but growing discipline of research. It’s a useful and interesting area of research that is applicable to, and draws from, many areas of the humanities. Book history welcomes innovative approaches and diverse points of views. Whether you are a librarian, a humanist, or just curious, the MA in the history of the book will stimulate you to pursue your academic inclinations.    

Any final thoughts? 

London has been a fantastic place to study book history. Libraries and museums are plentiful and many have unparalleled collections that are interesting for research and leisure.