What have you learned from your project about the principles and practices of good teaching that you would like to share with your colleagues? In what way(s) did this project help your students gain new knowledge or skills? In what way(s) has your grant-funded project changed the way that you teach
In May 2008 I was awarded a faculty development grant to attend Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, for a one-week course, “Introduction to Special Collections Librarianship.” My specialized background has been in archives and manuscripts rather than rare books, so I took the course to fill in this gap in my library school education.
Once we return to the library building (probably in 2011) I hope to take steps to improve Lincoln University students’ access to our rare book materials. Improving such access can only enhance their educational experience. “Access” has two components, the first being the step of alerting students to the presence of the materials, and the second being the step of establishing procedures for allowing students to look at the materials.
Access to special collections materials must always be balanced by security considerations, because of the unique or rare nature of the materials, which are often either irreplaceable or difficult to replace. Creating digital surrogates can be an effective means of providing access while getting around the security challenge, and this is something that we have already initiated with our archival collections (see our website: http://www.lincoln.edu/library/specialcollections/digitalcollections.html). I hope to expand this digitization process to our book collection once we are back in the library. I also hope that the new library building will afford exhibit space for some of our rare books, as this is a way of drawing attention to holdings that might otherwise remain unnoticed.
But I also hope that providing students with access to the actual books, rather than merely to digital surrogates, and not necessarily restricted to exhibits behind glass, may be possible in the newly renovated library, so long as security and environmental issues have been addressed by the renovations. While digital surrogates are of enormous value and help in the process of doing research, there is no substitute for actually being able see (even behind glass in an exhibit), or better yet to handle, old books, as there are emotional and even olfactory components that undoubtedly have positive effects in the learning process.
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