Amazing things happen when a social science librarian, a special collections librarian, and a political science professor collaborate to introduce students to the world of primary sources. Teaching how to find and how to use primary sources been difficult for librarians and teaching faculty and this poster demonstrates a unique approach to this age old problem. This collaboration grew out of all three collaborators having their own frustrations arising from the teaching of primary sources in a college course

Integrating the library’s rare and special collections into this political science course significantly changed how we teach the role that primary sources have in political science research. As as a result of this collaboration, students are able to physically handle items from the special collections that related to the class topic of colonialism. The special collections librarian brought into class items such as college textbooks, slave narratives, zines, diaries, and even artist books with publication dates ranging from 1860s to current. This collaboration demonstrates that library collections are meant to be used and not simply stored away and bragged about to library donors without being utilized by campus scholars.

This collaboration has resulted in a dramatic increase in student engagement, excitement, and understanding of primary sources and their proper use within the research process. Overall, with the trio willing to take on major risks in significantly changing the way this course is taught, there been significant positive payoffs: Better grades, better papers, higher engagement, and even a faculty teaching award.