Through collaboration with faculty and other community members, the Burns Library Instruction program supports intellectual inquiry and scholarship through an active engagement with primary and historical resources, in both original format and digital. We emphasize active learning techniques that put the student at the center of goal centric sessions to hone the crucial skills needed to find, evaluate, interpret and use primary source and historical information and facilitate academic growth.
We are happy to encourage wider use of Burns Library’s unique materials for teaching and research, and will work enthusiastically and creatively with you, library subject liaisons, and others to develop customized classes, activities, assignments, and OCEs around syllabus topics, course objectives, and primary source literacy standards. There is no singular, “right” way to bring special collections into the classroom experience, and we are open to all disciplines and many different approaches.
We work to demystify special collections and demonstrate that not only are these unique materials accessible to all (including undergraduates), but that they can be incorporated into classwork in a variety of ways. We teach research skills, not subjects, so don’t assume that we or our collections cannot help your classes, both in person and online!
Read more about some of our past instruction efforts:
In addition to the Association of College and Research Libraries’ (ACRL) Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, ACRL’s Rare Books and Manuscripts Section and the Society of American Archivists jointly created Guidelines for Primary Source Literacy.
The guidelines present core analytical, ethical, and theoretical concepts as well as practicalities for engaging with historical or cultural collections, and break these concepts down into examples of “the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed by researchers to successfully conceptualize, find, analyze, and use primary sources...They do not specify measurable outcomes or benchmarks for instruction, but can be of assistance in articulating specific learning goals that can be assessed.”
We find these guidelines a helpful starting point for discussions about how/what students can learn with primary sources, and how they can be used to create class sessions assignments that reinforce the skills.