An Independent Study Course by an Academic Library Department: Teaching with the Gems of Special Collections

Judy L. Silva, Barbara McIntosh

Abstract

Special collections in academic libraries provide rich learning environments for student engagement. This article describes the introduction of an independent study course by an academic library department as a high-impact educational practice supporting undergraduate research. Under the supervision of the faculty archivist, the student in this study was challenged to discover and research “gems,” unusual or significant items, on a topic of her choosing. She selected three works related to James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, showcasing her research at the university’s Student Faculty Research Symposium and creating a library display as her final project. This case study explores background information and describes the course, its inception, and the student’s project. It includes a discussion of benefits and challenges, transferability, scalability, and the application of a constructivist approach to teaching and learning. Limitations and further research are also included in this study.

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