Instruction & Teaching Support

Teaching Support

Library faculty in Special Collections offer a variety of instructional experiences including simple "show-and-tell" sessions, basic research orientations, and specialized sessions that incorporate course- or assignment-based resources and activities. Our instruction philosophy centers on cultivating both undergraduate and graduate students' abilities to think critically and to contextualize, investigate and authenticate historical and cultural documents. This includes identifying archival silences or erasures and how these absences shape the historical record. Librarians work closely with teaching faculty to develop sessions that promote and encourage these outcomes.

We create guides, accessible through the library's website, that identify Special Collections resources and tools specific to courses or assignments. In addition, we can link students to digitized primary sources around the Web that provide added support for research topics.

Do you have a course or assignment that incorporates primary source research or Special Collections materials into the final product or learning outcomes? We are happy to meet with you to discuss ways your students can interact with our materials.

We can provide a general introduction to finding and using our materials, or a specialized session on resource discovery tailored to a specific course or assignment.

We can identify and reserve specific collections and materials for assignments. These materials can remain on our hold shelf until the assignment due date or throughout the semester. Students will be able to use these materials in their own time, on an individual basis (for security reasons, students may not work in groups in the Special Collections reading room).

Special Collections is continually collaborating with the library's Digital Collections team to identify materials from our own collections for digitization. These digital surrogates provide high-quality visual context for use on Blackboard or in classroom lectures. This could be especially useful for larger or online classes.

If your goal is simply to expose your students to materials relating to the subject of your course, Special Collections is happy to select and display an array of appropriate items for a hands-on experience.

Special Collections staff can give basic departmental tours and exhibit "gallery talks" to groups of 10 or more.

Use the Finding Aid Database to search archival collections

Instruction Policies

  • Our instruction schedule fills up quickly within the first few weeks of the semester. To avoid scheduling conflicts, please request instruction sessions as far in advance as possible and no less than two weeks prior to the class.
  • Any documentation you can provide as to the nature of your needs, such as your course syllabus or assignment, enables us to more effectively select materials we think would be appropriate or relevant.
  • Please provide a headcount at the time of your request. If your class is larger than 20 students, we may not be able to accommodate the entire group at the same time. If necessary, we can work with you to divide the class into two back-to-back sessions spanning one lecture period or two separate dates. You (the instructor) must plan to be present at all sessions in Special Collections. 
  • If you plan to create an assignment using Special Collections materials, please contact us in advance at (619) 594-6791 to discuss details of the assignment and to confirm that materials are available to place on hold. When visiting the department, your students will need to bring a Red ID or other photo ID, register as researchers, and review our Researcher Guidelines.
  • Instruction sessions frequently require the students to seek individual follow-up reference assistance. We will emphasize this point during the session, but it can be helpful if you remind them to plan ahead and request assistance well in advance of the assignment's due date.
  • Please remind students that when they conduct research in Special Collections for an assignment, they are required to respectfully follow our security protocol and observe all departmental policies and procedures.
  • We wish to fully include persons with disabilities in all activities. Please let us know if you require any special accommodations for students in your course.

Contact Us

Special Collections & University Archives
Love Library, Room 150