Each week during the semester, Special Collections hosts multiple class sessions to allow students hands-on access to primary source materials relevant to their course’s subject matter. This week, Professor Xin Wu brought her ARTH 397 students into Special Collections to view facsimile artwork as part of her Chinese Painting class, which is being offered for the first time this fall.
Earlier this semester we displayed a selection of Special Collections’ early modern science books for a group of students and faculty. Among the exhibited volumes was a copy of the second Italian edition of Galileo Galilei’s Dialogo or Dialogue concerning the two chief world systems, Ptolemaic and Copernican, published in 1710.
Like many special collections at universities across the country, the Special Collections Research Center at Swem Library is dedicated to supporting the research mission of the College, but just as important is its role in enhancing the College’s commitment to excellence in undergraduate teaching. This year, in addition to my other tasks, I have had a few chances to assist the staff of the Special Collections Research Center with a number of outreach events aimed at College undergraduates.
Since I began my apprenticeship with Swem Library’s Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) in August, I’ve been consistently impressed with the staff’s dedication to actively engaging the student body here on campus. It is clear that undergraduate and non-staff researchers are very welcome here, and the staff members in the SCRC continually do everything in their power to facilitate the research efforts of anyone and everyone who steps through the door. This is not the case everywhere. It seems to me that other academic institutions sometimes use their archives to bolster their academic “street cred,” not as a venue through which students can learn about and engage the archival system. If the contents of the archives themselves and the class schedules of the last few weeks are any indication, students are constantly encouraged to come and explore here in the SCRC at Swem.