Presentation: Partner with Off-Campus Special Collections

I delivered this talk on March 16, 2012 at the Columbia University Libraries Symposium in New York, NY.

SLIDE ONE / TWO
TITLE

SLIDE THREE
First, like to get a sense of who is in the room.

  • Academic librarians/archivists? Others?
  • Teaching faculty?
  • Anyone else here?

Use primary sources in teaching? Physical or digital?
Worked with students in a special collections setting?
Anyone have an idea in mind UNDERGRADS + SC?

SLIDE FOUR
So who am I?

SLIDE FIVE
Robin M. Katz, Outreach + Public Services Archivist

SLIDE SIX
at Brooklyn Historical Society

SLIDE SEVEN 
So I’m actually not officially an academic librarian any more (though I still think of myself as one), I work at a library in a museum.

Along with our Public Historian, I run a program called Students and Faculty in the Archives

  • This is a kind of collaboration in itself… it crosses organizational and physical divisions within our small institutions

SLIDE EIGHT
aka SAFA

SLIDE NINE
Basic SAFA Low-Down:
It is an innovative, robust postsecondary education program  which uses primary sources

SLIDE TEN
to build document analysis, information literacy, and critical thinking skills in first-year undergraduates.

SLIDE ELEVEN
We look like a program, but we are funded like a project

SLIDE TWELVE 
BHS received a 3 year

SLIDE THIRTEEN
$750,000 from US DOE FIPSE

SLIDE FOURTEEN
To work with 3 schools
-LIU Brooklyn, City Tech, St Francis

SLIDE FIFTEN
-all schools are within walking distance

  • LIU is 20 min
  • CONSIDER – if want to GO to archive, how?

-these schools don’t have Special Collections on their campuses
-chosen for their commitment to minority, first-generation, non-traditional, and non-native English speaking students.

SLIDE SIXTEEN
-18 faculty
-selected before started through relationships, connections.
-Side note: ideally, application / vetting process with criteria: fit, availability, strengths
-Should point out – $1250 in honoraria per academic year for meetings

SLIDE SEVENTEEN
Our faculty are tenured, junior faculty, and adjuncts.

They teach History, English, American Studies, Religious Studies, Art History, Photography, and Architectural Technology

What does SAFA actually look like?

SLIDE EIGHTEEN
Class visits to the archive,

SLIDE NINETEEN
BHS staff go to campuses for workshops / presentations

SLIDE TWENTY
BHS-led walking tours around Downtown Brooklyn / Brooklyn Heights… we will also go to Greenwood w a Photography class

SLIDE TWENTY-ONE
Students return to the library to do research on their own sometimes. We find: better to REQUIRE it, or not encourage it.

SLIDE TWENTY-TWO
and in one case: OH collection that will end up in our archives

As if that wasn’t enough for 2 staff,

SLIDE TWENTY-THREE
Each course we work with is required to have a website, which we oversee and train them on

SLIDE TWENTY-FOUR
We are conducting a very exciting summer fellowship for 15 students this summer. The students will produce scholarly or creative projects based on research in a collection of 19th century diaries.

  • come to the public symposium in August

SLIDE TWENTY-FIVE
And as part of the dissemination plan, we have a network of national partners from Vermont, Philadelphia, and the Providence, RI area who will attend our second annual, week-long Summer Institute this June

SLIDE TWENTY-SIX
So in essence, SAFA aims to

SLIDE TWENTY-SEVEN
Provide Faculty professional development
-we want to see an improvement over time.
-the majority of our work: we spend the most time on, and the one we think can have the biggest lasting impact on how teaching gets done.

SLIDE TWENTY-EIGHT
Establish a collaborative network with these faculty and campuses that maybe leads to sustained collaboration.

SLIDE TWENTY-NINE
Of course we care about Student learning
-fac/class learning objectives
-independent evaluators are also providing students  w a pre and post assessment of their document analysis skills.  This is probably the goal we care most about generally at BHS, faculty as well.

SLIDE THIRTY

  • working w campus assessment offices to measure any impact or correlation with student engagement and retention.
  • When I started on the project, I was most excited about the potential for this data
  • worth/value/relevance
  • university “bottom line”

SIDE THIRTY ONE
So because we are in the middle of our second semester of teaching, our external Evaluators are mostly collecting baseline data right now. they will do qualitative and quantitative assessment

We’ve done a lot:
Last term: 15 classes, 41 visits to archives, almost 700 visits (bodies thru door), about 300 unique visitors, and over 400 call slips (document requests)

Please stay tuned bc we will actively disseminate our findings – but we can tell you already:

****Read from at evaluation data*****

SLIDE THIRTY TWO
The point of this presentation is not actually to talk about SAFA.

We will be doing plenty of that as we get further along in the project, of course.

And I’m very happy at the end to answer any Qs you may have about our program specifically.

Thinking of Jim Neals’ brilliant talk this morning – in some ways SAFA catches up on the popularization activities of the past. BHS still fighting the image that we are stuffy, stodgy…. which we are NOT. Our staff and our main constituents are in many ways young, hip, and diverse.

SAFA illuminates the Qs of the “kumbaya” period Jim Neals mentions too – how to sustain / expand? What does long term look like? How to make this a partnership w universities and their libraries?? Funding, staff, management? reporting?

I was so excited by this symposium and I responded to the CFP with this general advice presentation for a few reasons:

  1. We of course promised our funders that SAFA would be replicable, bc thats what they wanted to hear, but it just isn’t.  Unless you get the same amount of money or more, and the staff, you can’t do exactly what we did. There may be pieces that can pulled out, but its not on the whole replicable.
  2. Even if it was, would our model work for every repository or campus or class?
  3. If given the chance, would WE do it this way again? With every grant we learn a lot about would probably start over with different design, intentions, etc.

So today I wanted to think about what I’ve learned so far, to give you some advice, and to have a conversation about how you might partner with off-campus special collections.

(We are a repository reaching out to campuses, so our perspective is a little different than you, someone at a university, looking for an off campus special collections)

SLIDE THIRTY THREE
So – I do want to encourage you all

SLIDE THIRTY FOUR
to similarly partner with

SLIDE THIRTY FIVE
off-campus archives, libraries, or museums for the purposes of undergraduate instruction.

SLIDE THIRTY SIX

I’d like to focus on generalized guidelines about how academic librarians or teaching faculty should approach

SLIDE THIRTY SEVEN
course planning, research, class facilitation, and teaching evaluation in collaboration with the off-campus institutions.

SLIDE THIRTY EIGHT
First we really have to start with the Q:

WHY EVEN USE SPECIAL COLLECTIONS & ARCHIVES

  1. Student Learning

SLIDE THIRTY NINE

  1. content – primary sources to illustrate course content
  2. OBVIOUS reasons to seek out primary sources (though not obvious enough that enough people DO IT, of course…)
  3. runaway slave ads – instead of showing a reproduction in book or online, why not just look at the real thing? (SAFA ex)
  4. English – editions of books, serialized Dickens (non SAFA)
  5. LESS OBVIOUS
  6. Vaudeville theatre (Prof Catapano ex)
  7. Coney Island (Prof Platt ex)

SLIDE FORTY

  1. Why would you seek to include primary sources when you haven’t before? process – methodology
  2. History class: this is the work of historians
  3. English: “authenticity” of first editions, print history,
  4. Archival literacy, media literacy, information literacy in general
  5. Stay tuned – hopefully real evidence of engagement, retention, learning, archival literacy… anecdotally – def engagement, and course learning objectives!!!!!!

SLIDE FORTY ONE

  1. Student Engagement
    1. makes research exciting
    2. from primary sources draw own conclusions

And of course this all fits in with all those high impact learning practices like community engagement, and group work, etc.

SLIDE FORTY TWO
So WHY PARTNER WITH OFF CAMPUS repository?
(flip side: why should your on campus spec collections work with classes from other schools?)

SLIDE FORTY THREE

  1. Maybe your campus doesn’t have any special collections or archives? (This is the case with our 3 colleges – our grant was designed this way partly because these students would never have access to repository like BHS without SAFA)

SLIDE FORTY FOUR

  1. Maybe some off special collections have a better fit over on-campus special collections
  2. The whole idea of “special” collections is that different places have unique stuff focused on certain things
  3. But even if your campus has rich, relevant collections,

SLIDE FORTY FIVE
Going off campus does a few things:

  1. it’s just fun and engaging (our beautiful interior landmark library goes a long way with this.  Trust me – we have had a few classes in our basement and it just wasn’t the same.  Students often feel “on” because they see their trip as a privilege, its a change of pace. We often hear that students which were previously not that engaged in class really open up or focus in the new setting of our library…. of course there is a double edged sword to this, and i will talk aboutt our philosophy in a minute – but we like capitalize on this, but not fall prey to fetishizing libraries, archives, or museum objects – this is not a treasure room show and tell.  so I like when students ooh and ahh on their way in to our library, but if they are still blogging only about how pretty or old the building is at the end of the term, I worry that we / the prof didn’t do enough.)
  2. shows that research is never a one-stop-shop –> information literacy
  3. shows that reliable, useful resources exist off campus –> community engagement or even beyond – “scholarly citizenship”, the “constellation of resources” that aid in true scholarship

SLIDE FORTY SIX
OUR EMERGING TEACHING PHILOSOPHY – this is a work in progress, but already we’re shaping pretty strong opinions aboutt what WE do. you should do this too – maybe from the start 🙂

*You come to the archive for a reason, and your students show know those reasons

SLIDE FORTY SEVEN
*This not a treasure room / show and tell – to ooh and ahh over beauty or value
*This is not an exhibit, where the materials just “illustrate”
Ex: we have some beautiful tickets from the Coney Island jockey club tickets

SLIDE FORTY EIGHT
We also don’t throw stuff on a table.  One of our mantras is that “LESS IS MORE” That’s because we focus on…..
-Document Analysis 

SLIDE FORTY NINE
DOC ANALYSIS:

  • really focused
  • item level
    • we usually pull a single item, maybe a folder, from a collection.
    • we do NOT set a record carton down in front of a student
  • Unlike other info literacy instruction, we also really don’t start off with formulating a research Q and identifying/finding sources. So we don’t search the library catalog, we don’t search the finding aid portal, we don’t even really look at / talk about the finding much. STudents come in and docs are pre-selected.  On practical level, this means faculty ID material ahead of time and submit item level call slips 3 weeks ahead of time
  • On a pedagogical level, this means faculty are really thinking UP FRONT about what document their students are using and why
  • for faculty: Researching for your CLASS is way diff than your won research. not comprehensive, just illustrative.

THESE ARE FIRST YEAR UNDERGRADS

and we also focus on Interpretation 

SLIDE FIFTY

and the two skills we think students need most:

SLIDE FIFTY ONE

-Context
Seeking ways to bring context in
-from finding aid
-secondary sources
-class readings / lectures
-in archive talks / lectures

I really want to work on:
is this item typical?
is this item unique?

-Summarizing!!!!
Q of SAFA: how do you “check” a students’ learning?
-do they know what the thing they just looked at is?
-historical misconceptions / inaccuracies?

What is our responsibility as BHS? We work with faculty.

For you as a librarian/prof, how will YOU address this? One of our biggest challenges…

SLIDE FIFTY TWO

Sooooooo
If I were a professor or an academic librarian, here are the questions I would ask…

SLIDE 53: Why go there?
Do faculty and staff see a good “fit” between course objectives and the off-campus collections?

SLIDE 54
Why visit and/or use these collections?

SLIDE 55

SLIDE 56: What do they have?
What barriers exist for faculty discovery of and access to collections?

We collaborate w faculty on fit, assignments, role in course
-in depth research guidance, consultations on our collections

  • changing now that we have better intellectual/physical control of our collections thanks to a CLIR archival survey
  • big theme: connection between technical and public services, between outreach and reference. everything we do is interconnected…..

SLIDE 58:
How can off- campus staff support and guide faculty research for teaching? What kind of time do they have? If you are approaching them, work this out…

SLIDE 59: What about your campus library?
How can on-campus library resources and services compliment and build upon class visits to an off-campus? How can academic libraries be the link between teaching faculty and off-campus institutions?

It is unbelieveable that our grant didn’t emphasize or rely on formal collaboration w the LIBRARIES.  this is an oversight. It reflects the museum education background of our staff who wrote it.
-we’ve developed diff relationships w each of our libraries

To make it concrete –

  1. One model we are now encouraging is that classes come to our archives, look at some primary source materials (after having done some prep or context work), prim source materials always raise Qs so then having students go back to their academic library for an instruction session or just guided research time to ANSWER those Qs, and then come back and look at primary sources again.  This is what real researchers do, of course…library visit between 2 archives visits.

SLIDE SIXTY:

  1. Brook Stowe, LIU
  2. Next year, I would like us to observations, coordinate more – they have great reach at LIU – already seeing our students in systematic way, easier to plug into there….
  1. better collaboration w all libraries could get at citation issue too – ex: ref works, end note – we can’t teach these

SLIDE 61: What will students do?

62: SELECTING MATERIALS
-documents, item level
– This takes a lot of work, diff than faculty research
-consider length, difficulty, size!
-point out certain passages

SLIDE 63:
 What is the overall assignment structure?
-research a paper?
-one off thing w homework, blog post, handout

    • how is assignment scaffolded?

SLIDE 64:
How will students get context? lectures, readings, assignments? At the archive before?

SLIDE 65: What happens with the archival material?

  • group / individual 2 – 3 students work well to analyze doc

SLIDE 67

  • stations? does everyone see same/different?
  • end products? what are the students responsible for?
  • SLIDE 68:
  • are there handouts?
  • SLIDE 69:
  • are students supposed to fill them out, use as guide for conversation, just take their own notes? how will they use this?

SLIDE 70: facilitation is an art!
Which leads to the biggest, hardest Q of all…..

SLIDE 71:  Who is the teacher?
What are effective facilitation models for class visits to off-campus collections?
are they coming to the archive?
physical reproductions?  digital?
bring materials to campus?
What are the roles of faculty and off-campus staff?

SLIDE 72: Usually have to have repository staff at least give some kind of intro to archives
We’ve done during class visit, next yearr want to try pre-visits where we go to the class.

  • history of our institution,
  • reading room policies,
  • care and handling,
  • citations…
  • sometimes go into provenance, context of each collection, format history (especially the history of photography)… We provide this.

SLIDE 73: We tend to share facilitation w the faculty…

  • zones v floating v hands-off models.

Speaking of knowledge management we don’t like students to rely on us too much. We are often too necessary

THE Answer to this: SPECIFIC, GUIDED PROMPTS.
-Not having us at the table walking students through and holding their hands, -speaking of K. M.  – not giving “tips” off the cuff that are essential info we should communicate to all students (ex: Fs as Ss)

SLIDE 74:

    • Wrap up – biggest tip for our faculty, they need better wrap ups. let students know at start what they need to at the end.  Go beyond just “what did you learn,” “what is surprising?”

SLIDE 75:

  • A BIG ISSUE is citations!!!! teach students how to cite, provide for them? tell you providing takes a LOT of work! we do that.

SLIDE 76: 
Who assigns / grades student work?
We don’t grade,
except oral history assignment where it’s about the quality control of interview prep….

SLIDE 77:
we do watch the student blogs, our evaluators are involved..

SLIDE 78:
How do we improve?
How can participating faculty share and learn from each other?
How can faculty and off-campus staff provide feedback to each other and collaborate on improvements to teaching and logistics?

This is hard given different roles, but if starting collaboration from the start – should determine ahead of time.

SLIDE 79:
I want to use this space to find out something too

SLIDE 80:
Can SAFA add anything to the conversation?
During the Q + A session, I’d love to hear –
What findings and techniques will SAFA disseminate? Can SAFA produce replicable models or usable learning objects? Can BHS expand SAFA to include more faculty or campuses?

SLIDE 81:
Q + A session

END: SLIDE 82

Katz, Robin M. “Why You Should Partner with Off-Campus Special Collections – and what to ask before you do!” Columbia University Libraries Symposium. New York, NY. March 16, 2012. Speaker.
View proposal.
ContactNeed a recommendation?
website design by Josh Shayne Design