Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Past or Portal: Enhancing Undergraduate Learning through Special Collections and Archives

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Past or Portal: Enhancing Undergraduate Learning through Special Collections and Archives

Article excerpt

Past or Portal: Enhancing Undergraduate Learning through Special Collections and Archives. Ed. by Eleanor Mitchell, Peggy Seiden, and Suzy Taraba. Chicago: ACRL Publishing, 2012. 336 p. Paper $60 (ISBN 978-0838986103).

This book presents a collection of individual case studies concerning education and special collections. As with any collection written by different authors, some case studies are more engaging than others, but for those with an interest in integrating special collections into educational environments, this volume presents a great deal of useful material. It does a particularly good job of exposing the reader to many different ideas and methodologies.

The book is divided into four sections: The Artifact, The Program, The Work, and The Pedagogy. The articles comprising The Artifact section cover projects that focus on the objects contained in various special collections. The authors discuss how they have used archival objects in unique ways to engage students in the history of the objects themselves and in the history of reading and books. Various methods are employed, including hands-on examination of objects, writing about objects, and creating objects. Ideas from these articles can be extended to apply to many situations.

The Pedagogy section consists of case studies about the use of special collections materials within a course curriculum. These projects involve using specific material from special collections to support specific courses (or units of courses) in a university setting. As a natural consequence, these cases are less universal than those in The Artifact section and may not be as easy to incorporate into diverse situations and environments. …

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