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Burns Library Instruction


Schedule a Class Visit

Scheduling a Class Visit

If you are interested in using special collections materials to enhance the learning outcomes of your courses and/or research assignments, please complete the Burns LIbrary Instruction Support Request Form as are in advance as possible

We are also happy to meet with you to discuss preliminary questions or ideas if more information is needed before filling out the fomr. 

Class requests will not be accepted less than two weeks before the proposed session date(s). 

We will follow up with all instructors after receiving the instruction support request form. We may not be able to meet all requests for classes, due to staffing levels, classroom/space availability, and other instructional support needs. 

Class Formats

While we tailor instruction to your specific class, there are a variety of ways to integrate Burns material into your class. It’s also helpful to have scheduled a library skills session with your subject liaison, to ensure your students have a comprehension of basic research skills and communication to build from.

  • Single class session, no assignment
    • Designed to introduce students to working with and handling historical items in original formats, as well as analyzing and contextualizing them within the framework of the course.
  • Single class session, with assignment
    • Designed to give a deeper understanding of special collections materials and research methods and challenges, with an assignment that requires them to return to Burns Library to practice what they have learned in controlled circumstances.
  • Multiple class sessions, no assignments
    • Designed for scaffolding from an introductory session into in-depth or broader analysis opportunities. This style requires lots of time identifying content, and works best if the students produce knowledge (quiz, handout, exhibit) as a way to guide them through the process.
  • Multiple class sessions, singular or multiple assignments
    • Designed to offer students a deeper engagement and scaleable understanding of special collections holdings, multiple opportunities to use and interpret primary and secondary sources, and the means to undertake original archival research and learn about primary research methodology through first-hand experience
  • Online Classes
    • We, too, are adapting to new realities and teaching modalities. Although we will always advocate for the importance of original formats, we are still available to help you design engaging and meaningful synchronous and/or asynchronous online class activities and assignments that make use of digitized and born-digital collections.
  • Out of Classroom Experience (OCE)
    • Burns Library Staff can support Out of Classroom Experiences within the hard limits of library staffing, spaces, and materials. OCE objectives, activities, and assignments must be thoroughly planned ahead of time. Please contact Burns Library staff about designing an OCE that involves engaging with Burns Library’s unique materials in a meaningful way.

Burns Library Instruction Program. Fostering intellectual inquiry and academic growth through active learning with primary and historical resources. Facilitating active student interaction with primary sources. Integrating hands-on exercises with course based learning objectives. Supporting developing assignment or out of classroom experences (OCEs) that incorporate Burns LIbrary Collections and special collections research skills. Burns by the Numbers (Fall 2017- Spring 2021: 86 faculty members/instructors, 6200 students, 26 BC departments/disciplines, 360+ instructional sessions.  Learn more about the Burns Instruction Program, booking an active learning session, or designing assignments at or contact Katherine Fox, Head of Public Services, at

Instruction Spaces

Burns Library uses the Fine Print Room as the primary classroom, with the Irish Room available for small seminars or larger class overflow. For certain situations, we may be able to make the Reading Room available for classes. With social distancing in the classroom, our already small spaces have grown much smaller. We are willing to move your students through onsite experiences in several sets of small groups.

Burns Teaching Librarians are also available for in person classroom presentations and workshops, as well as for online classes. We want to help you design engaging and relevant synchronous and/or synchronous activities and assignments using digitized materials. We have instruction ideas, and we’d love to hear your ideas as we all figure out what works in these different learning modalities.