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Archives, Libraries and K-12 Collaboration 

September 15, 2022

As a University archivist, it’s my job to collect, preserve and maintain historical items related to our institution’s history. We have certain items we know we have to collect, i.e. course catalogs, President memos, university publications, and so on. We also occasionally receive donations covering a broader range of topics. Notably, the George Raymond Papers, and more recently, a collection of historical political campaign and U.S. Government materials. I mention these two collections because they cover topics not specifically related to the university. 

Rarely do I have the thought of “who is ever going to use this material?” Though more frequently, I have the thought of “I wish more people would utilize these materials.” Unfortunately (or maybe luckily), I don’t have the ability to predict the future or read minds. I can take an educated guess, but I will never know what items in our archives could be useful to any of the researchers out there. As long as I do the best of my ability to ensure that users in 5, 10, 20, or more years can access our print and digital materials, I’ve done my job correctly.  

This question of who uses archives leads me to how do we get more users? There’s no doubt that many archives contain fascinating, unique primary sources that someone out there can use. Outreach efforts within the university community are important, but thinking about users outside this community is equally as important. Libraries and archives goal is to provide access to information, so let’s spread the word! 

Our archives is a member of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) and together several member reps are organizing a conference called Beyond the Textbook: Equity, Engagement, and Primary Sources. It’s a free conference for educators to help support teachers in collaboration with archivists and librarians. It will take place on October 1st at LaSalle University, and we will be offering ACT48 credit for Pennsylvania Teachers. The overarching goal is to help K-12 teachers learn where and how to find primary sources, specifically related to diversity, equity and inclusion.  

It’s a great opportunity for teachers to learn how to access primary sources and integrate them into their teachings, but also for archivists and librarians to create connections and, hopefully, collaborations with teachers. I would love to see more K-12 teachers using local, primary sources from area archives and libraries. To be able to touch and interact with historical items as a young person is invaluable.  

If you’re interested, please consider attending, or if you know of any K-12 teachers in the area, share this conference with them. We’d love to have you! 

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