RLI 283 16 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC 2013 Integrating Special Collections into the Composition Classroom: A Case Study of Collaborative Digital Curriculum Matthew Vetter, Assistant Director of Composition and Graduate Teaching Associate, English Department, Ohio University Sara Harrington, Head of Arts and Archives, Ohio University Libraries I n 2010, 73% of college students reported using the online encyclopedia Wikipedia for course-related research.1 As the encyclopedia becomes a given in student research processes, librarians and teachers are increasingly recognizing the importance of teaching students about this source. Wikipedia also offers a number of opportunities for librarians and academics interested in digital curriculum development. The following case study describes a collaborative project to embed Wikipedia and special collections into the student experience. The project was designed by authors Matt Vetter, PhD candidate and teaching associate in English, and Sara Harrington, head of arts and archives, at Ohio University. New to her position, Harrington wanted to collaborate with a teaching faculty member in a way in which “the boundaries separating the disciplines begin to blur, and the partners are in the space of collaboration or of listening together in this special way. The partners find a language and common goals.”2 The project was executed with significant contribution from Bill Kimok, Judith Connick, and Doug McCabe, staff at Ohio University Libraries’ Robert E. and Jean R. Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections. In Line with Strategic Directions From the Ohio University Libraries’ strategic perspective, the project modeled a programmatic direction for the use of special collections that addressed a number of goals. First, the project supported the integration of special collections and archival materials, alongside “regular” library collections, into departmental and course curricula. Because the project entailed direct partnership between the libraries and the composition program, it also promoted interdisciplinary collaboration and aligned with initiatives to “embed” librarians into the work of university departments and programs. Engaging directly with Wikipedia further allowed the utilization of digital technologies for mainstreaming activities. Mainstreaming special collections in the undergraduate classroom is increasingly part of information literacy efforts.3 Knowledge creation by students is also an information literacy priority. Organizational change within the Ohio University Libraries was foundational for the project. Enhanced collaboration with faculty and colleagues and fostering new uses for special collections were imperatives outlined for Harrington’s position by the library administration based on current strategic directions. Additionally, the libraries used the balanced scorecard methodology to produce a living strategic document that guides the daily work of the organization. Building on the Ohio University Libraries’ mission, vision, and values, the organization defined strategies and measures to assess work done towards achieving the mission of the libraries. The measure most pertinent to this project is the “number of classes where students are interacting with the Libraries’ unique materials to produce a publicly visible product.” This project thus served as a model for the libraries in both the nature of the collaboration and the product. Harrington hopes in the future to partner with subject librarians and faculty members to produce similar products using special collections materials.
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