Undergraduates in the Archives – Taraba 4
4What are some of the challenges you have encountered?
Head of Special Collections and University Archivist – Wesleyan University
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 The single biggest challenge my program faces is one of supply and demand. Demand for class sessions in Special Collections & Archives (SC&A) is increasing—all to the good!—but the supply of time for teaching is not. In this sense, we are the victims of our own success. More staff to share the teaching load would help. Increased use of digitized sources and online tutorials can help as well, and many institutions, both large and small, are exploring these options, some with considerable success. Digitization can help make our holdings more readily accessible to larger numbers of students. Naturally, care and preservation of materials that are heavily used is always a concern. Digitization helps to protect the originals from being damaged in the service of learning and scholarship, but the experience of using digital surrogates is not really the same as using the “real thing.” Best, of course, is when the original and a digital surrogate can be used in tandem.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Often faculty find it difficult to squeeze a visit to SC&A into an already full syllabus, even when it is pedagogically desirable. Scheduling extra sessions outside of regular class meetings can be complex in the extreme, since students are extraordinarily busy with academic and extracurricular commitments.