Teaching with Special Collections

Richter Libraries’ Special Collections’ materials ignite curiosities and promote deeper levels of understanding of the historical record. Our librarians are eager to welcome your students as they begin to understand the research potential of these unique rare books, manuscripts, letters, ephemera, fugitive literature, and much more.

So, why teach with special collections materials?

Our collections:

  • remove editorial mediators because they are the primary evidence,
  • inspire new research opportunities, and
  • allow you to introduce a concept or historical event to a class in a creative way.

With the proper attention to security and the integrity of the items, students will be able to touch, read, and study our materials – engaging with the historical record in ways that transcend textbooks.  So, what can you expect from a class in Special Collections at Richter Library? We’ve developed two ways you can utilize our collections for instruction.

1. “One-off” or single class visit connected to a specific topic or overarching theme. This type of class can be arranged with a minimum of 2 weeks’ notice preferred.

2. Multi-visits, with or without student project or assignment. These can be arranged prior to a semester or one month’s minimum notice preferred. We will arrange thematic displays that enhance the topics you intend to cover throughout your course. After your class visits, your students can perform detailed and intimate reviews of the materials in our reading room to forge their own investigations. Past projects and assignments include: student-created artists’ books, annotated bibliographies, and blogs.

For seamless and positive results, we prefer a consultation with you prior to your class visit(s). With your input, our librarians can select materials that best suit your specific instructional needs. You are welcome to lead the instruction, or you can do what many of your colleagues have done and co-teach with our librarians whose breadth of knowledge of the collections make for lively and engaging classes. Our space is limited and we want to create a positive learning experience for your students. For classes of 18 or more students, we request splitting them into smaller groups for their Special Collections visit.

We’ve taught classes for English, History, Anthropology, Art, Architecture, Musicology, Geography, and Business faculty, to name a few. In fact, repeat visits from faculty (such as Profs. Robin Bachin, Renee Fox, and Kate Ramsey) and their students have made for stronger collaborations and more enriched original research by the students we instruct. Beyond our major collection strengths (Carribeana, Floridiana, and 20th/21st century Counterculture “Fringe” materials), our collections also cover a broad range of disciplines ideal for instruction.

If you have any questions or would like to set up a class visit, email Athena N. Jackson, Special Collections Librarian at a.jackson3@miami.edu.

The Special Collections Division