Are you looking for ways to get your students excited about writing assignments that require library research? Consider enlisting the help of librarians in Special Collections and Archives, which houses the Libraries’ rare and unique source materials in original formats.
Librarians have recently taught the skill of working with primary research sources to more than 1,000 undergraduates in the Humanities Core Course. This was in preparation for the “Hum Core” spring quarter research paper assignment, which focused on “Globalization and Society.” Examples of sources examined include rare books, diaries, letters, newspaper articles, promotional brochures, and maps. The students examined global influences in the context of trade, technology, religion, or other phenomena, using an Orange County-based topic and connecting it to global networks of exchange. Examples of topics explored in faculty lectures included missionaries and their effect on converts, hybrid architectures resulting from conquests and the globalization of Christianity, and the imposition of Spanish religion and culture on the Aztecs during the conquest period.
The sessions, which took place in regular classrooms, covered the definition of primary sources, how to locate them, and a materials inspection assignment in which each student addressed a series of questions about a particular source, such as: “What makes this a primary source? What is the author’s point of view? Pose a research question for which the item might be used.” Each class concluded with a round-robin discussion about the sample sources which revealed a high level of student engagement with the exercise.
This enthusiastic student response has resulted in countless visits to Special Collections and Archives as students do their research. Examples of their topics include the impact of traditional Hawaiian values on surf culture in Southern California, the Segerstrom family and the evolution of its business from agriculture to real estate holdings such as South Coast Plaza, German colonization of Anaheim in the 19th century, and immigration to Westminster from Southeast Asia.
Special Collections and Archives welcomes the opportunity to work with faculty to assist students with information skills and research assignments. For more information please contact Steve MacLeod, Public Services Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org or x44967).
Jackie Dooley, Carol Hughes, Steve Macleod, Spencer C. Olin, Kevin Ruminson
Editor: Jackie Dooley
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