Science Instruction Through the Visual Arts in Special Collections

The University of Colorado Boulder (CU–Boulder) is known for strong programming in the sciences and a teaching faculty at the forefront of science education and reform. Librarians at CU–Boulder, in collaboration with science faculty, are challenged to improve undergraduate science education. Using rare, historic, and artistic works from Special Collections, the librarians employ active learning techniques that emphasize visual imagery to improve the quality of undergraduate learning in the sciences. This paper describes the fledgling program developed by CU–Boulder librarians to create a space for student-driven, collaborative learning using historic and visual scientific materials found in Special Collections.

Continue Reading →

Media Arts Centers as Alternative Archival Spaces: Investigating the Development of Archival Practices in Non-Profit Media Organizations

In the United States, archival institutions have prioritized the preservation of commercial and Hollywood cinema overlooking small-scale media production by non-professionals and independent media artists. Media arts centers, however, have played a pivotal role in the continued access, use, and preservation of materials produced by the communities that they serve. These non-profit media collectives were imagined as a distributed network of organizations supporting the production, exhibition and study of media; serving as information centers about media resources; and supporting regional preservation efforts. However, media arts centers have remained over-looked and unexplored by the archival field. This dissertation seeks to shift this balance, including these artist-run organizations as part of the network of archives and collecting institutions preserving independent media.

Continue Reading →

Locating Traces of Hidden Visual Culture in Rare Books and Special Collections: A Case Study in Visual Literacy

The author describes the recent collaboration of a special collections librarian and an art history professor at McGill University to integrate primary source material into a semester-long undergraduate course assignment and subsequent exhibition and catalog. The fourth-year art history course, Canadian Slavery and Its Legacies: A Curatorial Seminar, required students to select and prepare an exhibition catalog entry for two visual objects (prints, maps, books, plates, ephemera, objects) from within the holdings of McGill Rare Books and Special Collections. Through in-class visits and individual consultation, the librarian guided students in navigating special collections for the first time, thus easing feelings of “archival anxiety” and illustrating the role of special collections in academic research.

Continue Reading →

Archival Literacy for History Students: Identifying Faculty Expectations of Archival Research Skills

“Although finding, interpreting, and using archives is inherent in the study of history, no standard identifies the archival research competencies college history students should possess. The purpose of this study is to identify history faculty expectations of undergraduates regarding their archival research skills and, based on those expectations, to create a list of archival research competencies that could be incorporated into the history classroom or introduced by the archivist in archival literacy sessions.”

Continue Reading →

Beyond the Physical Archive: Imagining Primary Source Literacies in the Digital Age

“In this paper, we propose strategies for outreach and collaboration with faculty and archivists that are centered on digitized primary sources. These strategies are based on our experiences and informed by a review of the literature of teaching faculty in several disciplines, as well as the archival literature, to identify current methods of teaching and supporting undergraduates’ research with primary sources.4 Next, we present examples of activities, assignments, and approaches to digitized primary source pedagogy that are linked to relevant information literacy and visual literacy standards. Finally, we offer concluding thoughts on the development of primary source literacies, not just in an era of digital abundance, but at a time in which the rapidly expanding field of digital humanities has the potential to complicate and alter students’ relation to sources even more dramatically.”

Continue Reading →

Beyond Habit and Convention: Visual Literacy and the VRC

“Critic John Berger’s ideas about seeing are still relevant. Many are certainly enveloped in the contemporary academic librarian’s definition of visual literacy. As one might expect, visual literacy has particular necessity for the librarian, like me, who works in a Visual Resources Center (VRC). I am very concerned with the habits of seeing among students and instructors… There are several challenges to visual literacy on campus. When these challenges are not met, there is reliance on convention and old habits. These challenges include resource unawareness, discomfort with technology, and information overload. As our VRC evolved from a slide library to a fully equipped digital media center, our ability to answer such challenges transformed.”

Continue Reading →