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Teaching with Special Collections

Teaching with Special Collections: Activities and Assignments

Special Collections is an integral part of the teaching mission of Louisiana State University. Our materials and facilities are used every year as part of class visits by more than 2,500 students from a variety of disciplines. Such visits are opportunities for students to:

  • Experience course material in a hands-on, active-learning environment.
  • Directly encounter objects from other time periods and world cultures.
  • Find inspiration for creative projects.
  • Become familiar with archives and primary source research.
  • Improve their critical-thinking and communication skills by researching, writing about, and presenting on historical objects.
  • Acquire investigative skills essential to future study and employment.

Many classes have this simple structure: a very brief introductory talk, a table-by-table discussion of the materials, and free time for students to explore their favorite items.

Class visits can be tailored to your needs. Some instructors use library materials as the basis of lectures, while others create interactive exercises such as document analysis worksheets. Student presentations and performances are among the many other options available. Selected activities and assignments are showcased on the left. Additional examples are available on request. 

Library staff have expertise in several areas, including primary source literacy, the history of books and printing, literary history, and rare books as material culture. The collections have treasures relating to every discipline and course topic, whether science or art, engineering or history. 

Whatever your field of study, we are happy to work with you to identify materials that fit into your curriculum and design meaningful experiences for your students. To start a conversation with library staff about your course, please fill out this request form describing your needs and concerns. To learn more, explore the online catalog, the manuscript collection subject guides, and the LibGuide to Rare Books

For further logistical information, please visit the Planning a Class page on the Special Collections website.

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