California Rare Book School, a program for those interested in rare books, manuscripts, and archives, has had a Caxton Club connection since the beginning. Nine years ago, Susan Allen, a non-resident Caxton Club member then at the Getty, and other Los Angeles special collections librarians, booksellers, and collectors determined that LA needed a rare book school. Dr. Beverly P. Lynch, also a Caxton Club non-resident member, stepped forward and accepted the call to found CalRBS. After a year of planning, the first courses were offered in 2006 at UCLA where Dr. Lynch is on the faculty. In 2011 with five successful seasons behind her, Lynch passed the director’s baton to Allen who was close to the program as faculty and an Advisory Committee member.
Susan Allen’s appointment as director caps her extremely interesting career as a librarian that took her from the Claremont Colleges to the Getty Trust. There were also years spent at Kalamazoo College and time at UCLA to earn a doctorate and head up the library’s special collections. Arriving at the Getty in 1999, she experienced firsthand many of its tumultuous years. This was after Nicholas Basbanes reported in his A Gentle Madness on another interesting part of her life: her testimony in the trial of book thief, Stephen Blumberg. While at Kalamazoo she braved many a winter blizzard to drive to Chicago for stimulating Caxton Club dinners. In August she will teach “History of the Book, 200 to 1820” for CalRBS.
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