Tips and Ideas for Instructors

Prepare Students

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:

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.

Orientation Activity

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:

Creative works

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:

Research Papers

The diverse nature of the collections supports student work in a wide range of topics. Consult the collection descriptions for an idea of what is possible, or contact us for more information.

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.