Artist's book consisting of a long scroll and a can marked "Beans."

Teaching with Artists’ Books During the Pandemic

By Marsha Taichman / The Artists’ Books Collection at the Fine Arts Library (FAL) at Cornell University is fairly unique, as it is a teaching collection housed in the open stacks of the library. This means that anyone who comes into the library can go to the shelves in the reference section of the library, take the books, envelopes, and boxes of books off of the shelves and open them up, flipping through pages, pulling tabs, and unfolding fold-outs.

First Time with the First-Years

By Christie Lutz / Archivists and special collections librarians who provide instruction at the undergraduate level are experts in the “one-off” class. Often at the request of teaching faculty, we offer sessions that introduce students to our repositories, present show-and-tell arrays of primary resources, or simply pull and display materials requested by faculty and stand by for classroom assistance. For those of us who wish to deepen and extend our instruction practice and reach and engage students in more meaningful ways, the one-off scenario is lacking.

Medicine Buddha statue

Thinking about Object-based Teaching and Learning

By Rachel M. Straughn-Navarro, PhD / The Medicine Buddha is an artwork that makes viewers move around it to look at it from different angles or rub their fingers together as they imagine the texture of the conical curls on his head. With younger viewers, he often makes them sit on the ground, squirming in attempt to cross their legs with the soles of their feet towards the ceiling or craning their necks to see how his eyes are ever so slightly open, looking down as if seeing something beyond the physical world. His size, at three and a half feet tall, sparks awe and amazement while his elongated earlobes, the bump at the top of his head, and other features less well-known in our western culture incite wonder and curiosity.

Learning to teach: Impacts of instruction internships on early career librarians

By Rachel Makarowski / Imagine this: you are a professional, full-time librarian for the first time. It is your second day at work, and you’ve just been asked if you’d like to teach a Latin American studies class that was scheduled that day. The facsimiles of Christopher Columbus’ diary and the Aztec codices depicting the start of the conquest of Mexico have been pulled, the research done.

The “Hidden” Incentives of Teaching with Special Collections

By Michael Taylor / Several years ago, I began educating myself about stocks and investing. The guidebooks advised me to consider not only a stock’s valuation, but also its record of paying a strong dividend—money that shareholders get simply for owning a stock, even during economic downturns. Dividends accrue and, in time, make up a significant portion of overall returns. Remembering to take them into account is crucial to evaluating one’s success as an investor.

In Praise of a Community-centered Approach in the Garden and the Archives

By Leah Richardson / Gardening is a labor of love, but labor nonetheless. There is a seemingly endless amount of tending and care that goes into making something grow, and there is not a guarantee that this work will result in something beautiful or nourishing. I find gardening metaphors useful when thinking about most activities, especially librarianship. This is an essay about building a special collections instruction program within a larger research library and how I think about this in much the same way I think about gardening: as a collective, cultural, and experimental activity.

Teaching as Practice

By Maureen E. Maryanski /
Only recently have I begun to think about my work as the Education and Outreach Librarian at the Lilly Library as a teaching practice. Teaching with special collections has been an integral part of my career trajectory and identity since I became a professional librarian seven years ago. At that point, I could not have predicted that this would be the case. My intertwining investments in the classes, instructors, and students that I work with and my own development as a teacher have continued to grow since then. As I look back, examining the sequence of events and interactions that have brought me where I am, that phrase teaching practice continues to bubble to the surface. It encapsulates the approach and attitude I seek to bring into every classroom.