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Not Just for Students: An Archives Workshop for Faculty Rachel Grove Rohrbaugh Chatham University Archives | Pittsburgh, Pa. rrohrbaugh@chatham.edu | (412) 365-1212. Abstract. Methods.

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Not Just for Students: An Archives Workshop for Faculty

Rachel Grove Rohrbaugh

Chatham University Archives | Pittsburgh, Pa.

rrohrbaugh@chatham.edu | (412) 365-1212

Abstract

Methods

Instruction in college and university archives typically focuses on teaching students information literacy and research skills and is ideally constructed as a partnership between faculty and the archives staff. Yet many professors are themselves unfamiliar with archival research and uncomfortable creating assignments that incorporate the use of archives and special collections. This presentation details the method and results of a continuing education workshop offered for faculty at Chatham University and discusses how other institutions might adapt this model. Aiming to ease anxiety and foster collaboration, this workshop introduces faculty to the teaching and research potential of the collections as well as literature on the benefits of archival research, particularly for undergraduates. Since the workshop was first offered three years ago, we have seen a significant increase in instruction sessions, assignments requiring students to visit the archives, and the number of faculty using our collections for their personal research.

The archivist prepared an hour long workshop for faculty that emphasized our collections’ strengths and research possibilities. The workshop also included significant time for discussion and a hands-on tour. Faculty members in humanities disciplines were strongly encouraged to attend, but the workshop was open to anyone who wished to participate.

Background

Chatham University is a small liberal arts institution founded in 1869 and located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The university has growing co-educational graduate programs, but the undergraduate college is open to women only (≈1000 FTE). For decades, Chatham’s university library collected and stored archival materials, but the University Archives were not administered by a professional archivist until the fall of 2008. While students occasionally made their way to Archives and Special Collections through word of mouth, up to this point, no faculty members were bringing in their students for archivist led instruction in the use of primary sources.

A review of the literature currently available emphasized the use of primary sources in information literacy education but also stressed the importance of faculty involvement. With this in mind, the archivist looked for ways to encourage the use of our collections in lectures and assignments. An already established library workshop series for faculty presented the perfect opportunity to reach the university’s faculty population.

Conclusions

Slide used in the presentation with content based on a review of the library and archives literature on undergraduate research.

While we cannot prove that the offering of the workshop directly increased use of Archives and Special Collections, the workshop certainly increased our visibility on campus and strengthened relationships with the individual faculty who attended. One possible explanation for the drop in student individual use from year two to year three was the loss of an adjunct contact who taught a large freshmen course that required students to visit the Archives. Improved marketing to new adjuncts might reduce the likelihood of this situation in the future.

Other institutions and particularly academic archives could certainly create and offer a similar workshop. The most difficult aspect was the literature review, which would not have to be repeated every time a workshop like this is offered.

Results

In the first year the workshop was offered (end of 2008-2009 into 2009-2010) student use of Archives and Special Collections increased over 142%, and use by faculty for their own personal research was up 50%. While individual student research consultations then dropped for the 2010-2011 academic year, the number of in class sessions and number of students in those sessions remained relatively constant. Faculty use for their own personal research was also steady.