Why Use Special Collections in Your Teaching?
At MU, the Department of Special Collections and Rare Books is a vibrant laboratory for the humanities, where students and faculty are welcome to research and explore. Our collections exist to be used, and they are open to everyone.
As part of a class session in Special Collections, your students will have hands-on access to the most inspiring and intriguing materials the Libraries have to offer. They will learn important primary research skills – the ability to track down sources, make connections among documents, and read the content of the page alongside physical evidence. Most importantly, they will discover an enthusiasm and engagement with their subject that will take their studies far beyond their textbooks.
Special Collections librarians offer several types of instruction services. Faculty and graduate instructors may schedule instruction services through the Request a Class Session form.
Collection materials do not leave Ellis Library, but librarians can visit the classroom to make presentations using PowerPoint or other visuals. Although it is preferable for students to experience the materials firsthand, presentations may prepare students for research in Special Collections or give a brief overview of the department.
Orientation to Special Collections
Staff members provide a broad introduction to what the SCARaB division contains and how to use its resources. Topics covered generally include a brief overview of the collections, procedures for paging and using a book in the reading room, and technical tips for using microforms.
Customized Course Guides
With input from the instructor, librarians can develop lists of titles and other materials of interest to a specific class or research topic, and prepare materials for a class visit or for use in a class research project. View our current course guides.
In close consultation with the instructor, staff members provide in-depth presentations or background information on specific topics or materials. Areas of particular staff expertise include:
- Medieval manuscript production and illustration
- History of printing and book production
- Book illustration and the book arts
- History of science
- Religious studies
Staff members have a deep knowledge of the collections and are available to brainstorm or offer suggestions on creative ways to use materials in student research projects and activities. Instructor workshops are offered at the beginning of the fall semester, and they can also be scheduled on request. We also offer Printable Handouts and Activities, as well as Tips and Ideas to get you started.