Because Special Collections is so different from the rest of Ellis Library, it may be helpful to prepare your students prior to their first visit. Ways to prepare include:
- Distribute one of our printable handouts to your class.
- Ask a librarian to make a 10- to 15-minute pre-visit presentation in your classroom.
- Have students review our digital collections and exhibits.
Engage Students with an Activity
The following activities provide a guided introduction to working hands-on with rare books and primary sources. Instructors are welcome to use the activities below, consult with librarians to develop new activities, or assign students activities of their own.
Special Collections materials present new challenges to students. Special Collections librarians would be glad to work with you to design an orientation activity that meets your course needs.
Close Observation Activities
Close looking is an important skill to develop in teaching students to notice physical clues in rare books and documents. Special Collections librarians have developed activities in two areas:
- Medieval Manuscripts and Early Printing
- Artists’ Books and Fine Press Imprints
Worksheets for both activities can be downloaded from the Printable Handouts page.
Keep Them Coming Back for More
Students get the most out of their visit to Special Collections when they are required to use the resources. Don’t hesitate to use Special Collections in your assignments! Once they have visited the department, they’ll have a good foundation on which to build individual research skills. Example assignment ideas include:
Students could write a creative history of a book or printer, design informational posters or videos, curate a class exhibition, or create their own graphic novels.
Short Writing Assignments
Examples of this type of assignment could include:
- A comparison of student life 100 years ago and student life today (using materials from the University of Missouri Collection)
- A short history of a city block in each student’s hometown, or in Columbia (using the Sanborn Maps of Missouri Collection)
- An analysis of a nineteenth-century recipe, as reflected through cookbooks in the Rare Book Collection
Let Us Know what You Think
Is there something we could improve on? Do you have ideas for an activity or project you’d like to try? Please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll send a follow-up assessment after your class to gather your thoughts and suggestions as well.