Some of us are lucky to work with faculty or staff who incorporate our campus’s fantastic special collections into their work. And some of us wish our students worked with these collections more and wonder what we can do to encourage curiosity for these one of a kind objects. Seeking a richer dialog surrounding archives and special collections based assignments for undergraduates, I co-developed, with a then-lecturer in English, a half-day workshop for faculty in spring 2014. Too often archive and special collection based assignments result in tours or show and tell affairs. As librarians and archivists, we recognize that archives offer rich possibilities for undergraduate teaching and learning and want to encourage faculty using archives in their classes to create meaningful assignments that support course objectives.
My involvement in this conversation came about because of the Gem requirement for UGS classes. We in TLS and other librarians with whom we collaborate wanted to find a way to link the information literacy requirement with the Gem requirement. As a preliminary step, I sought out partnerships across campus to learn more about what a fruitful engagement with an archive or special collection can look like. This included joining a campus-wide archives working group (co-chaired by T-Kay) and building deeper partnerships with campus archives and special collections in order to facilitate the exchange of ideas surrounding this topic. All across campus and disciplines, I found individuals who were excited about getting undergraduates in the archives.
The resulting workshop was designed for faculty wishing to integrate the use of archives and special collections into their undergraduate courses either in a short term manner or in a semester long engagement. We communicated useful information about how faculty can work with archivists and librarians on archives-based assignments and projects, the logistics and preparation required for bringing students into archives, working with archivists and incorporating their expertise into the engagement, and integrating the use of digital archives into the classroom. We also shared examples of archives-based assignments that could be adapted into their courses.
There is still so much work to be done around this topic! I’m excited to be presenting at ACRL this spring, in poster format, some of the work I did. I hope to meet people from other institutions who have thought creatively about this issue.
Here is the guide we made for faculty attending the workshop. Would you guys like to see this workshop adapted for librarians? What would you like to know? What would you like to share? Email me!