Skip to main content

Last week I posted a link to Lorne Bair’s review of his experience as a faculty member for the 2011 Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar.  This week we have a brief and lovely essay from Zhenya Dzhavgova, a young bookseller who was able to attend CABS because of a scholarship she received from the ABAA’s Elisabeth Woodburn Fund.

One of the Best Decisions I Have Ever Made
by Zhenya Dzhavgova

It is Saturday night and the time has finally come - in just a few hours I will be flying out to Colorado to attend the highly acclaimed Antiquarian Book Seminar. Thanks to the generous ABAA scholarship I have won I am able to avoid the hassle of navigating cabs and buses in Denver and get a commuter flight into Colorado Springs. A decision, which later makes me rethink its merits when the little jet starts shaking violently, or as our captain puts it: “And now, Dear Passengers, you are experiencing the slight effects of the lovely air currents we have flowing from the majestic Rockies.” The optimistically called CC Inn greets me with a bright and clean room, sans curtains or any other window cover, but with a lot of hangers, which I later find out other people do not have. I love it.

Sunday night reception starts out a little hushed, until Kevin Johnson stands up and tells us he has a very important dress code announcement to make, which is that it is mandatory for each of us to wear at least a shirt and a pair of pants to lectures. The all-around giggles break the ice and the real fun begins. Early Monday morning my colleagues and I gather in front of the inn and head off to breakfast. I am amazed at the ease and companionship among us - there are no awkward pauses and uncertain looks. Just like that, we have broken the stereotype of stuffy seminar attendants and snobby conference participants. The day goes on in a blur. The amount of information is enormous. Interestingly enough, I do not see any glazed-over eyes and half-asleep faces. Rob Rulon-Miller, Terry Belanger and Dan Gregory impart their priceless experience and knowledge on basic bookselling, conservation and databases, while they frequently have us roaring with laughter. After the delightful Chuck Wagon picnic we all head back to the two little tables in front of the inn. Somebody produces a six-pack of beer and that marks the beginning of nightly gatherings for us and the best business in months for the liquor store across the street. At these small benches, which we eventually come to lovingly call the CC Bar, we stay late into the night, sharing newbie mistakes and successes, rehashing the daily lectures, and forming bonds, most of which I believe will last a lifetime.

In the following days, Nina Musinski, Dan DeSimone, Lorne Bair and the rest of the faculty keep us excited, eager to learn, and mindless of the 4-hour-a-night sleep and the 10-to-12-hour-a-day lectures, which in normal circumstances would probably have us dropping with exhaustion. The feeling that these people genuinely want us to succeed is incredible. The end of the week comes all too soon. By this time, the rumors about the infamous CC Bar extravaganza have prompted a few faculty members to drop by, thus adding to the nightly merriment. Friday night farewell dinner is a bitter-sweet affair for me. I am really sad that the seminar is over, but I am also excited about the future. Some of us have already made important business deals and decisions and others might possibly turn to a different career. Either way, I rest assured that the experience has been life-changing for the participants and the faculty alike.