The Special Collections staff offer instruction in a variety of topics, including: an overview of visiting a Special Collections or archives, handling rare materials and different formats, search strategies, conducting original research, using primary sources, and visual and archival literacy skills. The session can be tailored to your needs. We can also work with faculty to produce course-specific projects using the photographs, books, and archives in our holdings or partner with your department's subject librarian for an in-depth overview of the Library's services and resources.

New for Summer 2020: Visiting Special Collections online instruction modules

Request an Instruction Session

To request a session, please complete the request form below at least two (2) weeks prior to the session. Should the Reading Room be unavailable, or if your class size exceeds 20 students, Special Collections staff will try to accommodate you in the Library Gallery or in your assigned classroom. Please contact us with any questions or special requests: or 410-455-2353.

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Special Collections Instruction Examples

Faculty-led session: After a brief introduction by a Special Collections librarian/archivist (which can include a short overview of Special Collections, procedures, and/or searching), the faculty member will lead a class using items pulled from the Special Collections holdings.

General Special Collections or archives introduction: Students will learn how to conduct research at a special collections, archives, or historical society reading room. Special Collections staff will provide an overview on general visiting procedures; how to handle photographs, books, and archival collections; and general search strategies. See also: "Visiting Special Collections" video tutorial.

Basic or Advanced archival and visual literacy: Archival and/or visual literacy skills will be reviewed and students will have an opportunity to complete a hands-on exercise. Learning outcomes are developed from the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education and/or ACRL Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, in consultation with the professor. See also: Basic archival literacy exercise worksheet (opens as a pdf). For more information on archival literacy competencies, please see: Sharon A. Weiner, Sammie Morris, and Lawrence J. Mykytiuk (2015) Archival Literacy Competencies for Undergraduate History Majors. The American Archivist: Spring/Summer 2015, Vol. 78, No. 1, pp. 154-180.

Course specific research projects: Special Collections librarians are also available to work with faculty to produce course-specific projects using the photographs, books, and archives in our holdings. The main collecting areas include the history of photography, biological sciences, Maryland history, science fiction, and university history, but a wide variety of topics are represented in our holdings. Examples of how courses have utilized our collections include: to curate an exhibit of typography forms, group presentations and research papers on the development of serial literature, write sample lesson plans for K-12 education, and to curate online exhibits using historical local and university photographs.

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Special Collections Services


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