CLIR Site Visit

Friday, was an awesome day. We had a site visit from some CLIR colleagues. CLIR (Council on Library and Information Resources) not only administers the program we received our grant from, the Hidden Collections program–but they also administer a postdoctoral fellowship:

CLIR Postdoctoral Library Fellows work on projects that forge, renovate, and strengthen connections between academic library collections and their users. The program offers scholars the chance to develop new research models, collaborate with information specialists, and explore new career opportunities. Participating libraries benefit from the expertise of accomplished scholars who can invigorate approaches to collection use and teaching, contribute field-specific knowledge, and provide insight into the future of scholarship.

Two postdoctoral fellows, Michelle Morton from Cañada College and Kelly Miller from the College Library at UCLA, are working on  “a CLIR-funded study aimed at tracking the impact of access to civil rights-related collections on teaching and learning.”

As Michelle first wrote to us when approaching us to participate:

This study, entitled “Civil Rights Collections:  The Impact of Access to Primary Sources on Teaching and Learning,’ is an outgrowth of broader study, entitled “Observations on Engagement with Hidden Special Collections and Archives.” Members of the project team hope to document the impact of your particular award-wining project on instructional faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and student workers involved in the project.

The goal of the study is to gauge and document 1) the impact of access to primary sources on faculty teaching and student learning, and 2) the educational impact of working on hidden collections projects on student workers.  We hope that the study will require only a small effort on your part. Your participation will involve three stages: 

  1. Encouraging your student workers to complete a brief, anonymous online survey
  2. A day-long consultation at your institution with members of our project team
  3. An online meeting Wednesday, March 21 from 12:00-3:00pm PST with archivists working on six civil rights-related hidden collections projects to discuss issues particular the collections you are working with

The study findings will be presented and published for the benefit of library, archival, and academic communities.  The project team will share notes and data resulting from our study with your staff, and you will be free to use this material for local reports and publications.

I think at first, we weren’t sure how the day was going to turn out. We received a list of questions and also they wanted to talk to faculty and our student workers on the grant, Marcus and Jose; but the day went off great. We got a lot done and I think we answered a lot of their questions.

We had a pretty good schedule set up:

• 9:00 am Introductions and description of CLIR/Morton research project
• 9:30am Origin of project concept (Marín, Spindler)
• 10:00am Project Overview, Challenges and Tour (Flores, Dunham)
• 11:30am Collegial lunch/Discussion of questions for other CLIR projects
• 1:00 pm User Profile (Spindler, Marín)
• 1:30pm Discussion with Faculty
• 2:30pm Discussion with Project Students and Student Researchers:
• 3:00pm Discussion of Future Opportunities (Godoy)
• 3:30pm Wrap-up

Our conversation about the origin of the project was really interesting because Chris told the story about how the Chicano/a Research Collection was formed. It was one of the demands made to the University’s president during the early 70s, when Chicano students were protesting for more rights on campus. Under those same demands the Chicano Studies department was also formed.

Chris and Rob also talked about how before this the Chicano/a Research Collection hadn’t really received any grants or having an external funding. So when Chris and the Records Manager and Project Investigator at the time Mike Lobstein heard about CLIR they applied. The first they didn’t get the grant, but then they tweaked it and the second time they applied they did.

Next Elizabeth and I described the collections and the work we’ve completed this far with LULAC and Alianza. We talked about some of the challenges we’ve come across–mostly the technical problems we’ve had with dealing with bilingual collections and making finding aids in Spanish.

But probably the most interesting part of the day was talking with faculty and the student workers. I think our visitors got some really good insight about how archives are used in the classroom and how we interact with faculty and students, and then interact with archives.



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