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ARCHIVES Home

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ARCHIVES  March 2006, Week 1

ARCHIVES March 2006, Week 1

Subject:

Teachers and Archivists (was Friday Funny)

From:

Susan D'Entremont <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Susan D'Entremont <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 7 Mar 2006 17:39:34 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (122 lines)

Dear Katie,

My organization has been wrestling with this question, as it relates to K-12
teachers, for a couple of years.  At the beginning, we naively set out to
focus on the publicity side of things.  You know, do some sort of listing to
let teachers know what local archivists have, set up roundtables so teachers
and archivists can talk to each other, and so forth.

We quickly found out that the question is a lot more complex than we
realized.  Teachers and archivists have extremely different languages, work
environments, needs and expectations.  And the environment that teachers are
working under has changed enormously in the past 5-10 years.  For example,
many teachers no longer have the luxury of exploring topics in-depth.  A
topic that they might have spent a week on ten years ago now gets one 20-30
minute period. So teachers are relying on text-book companies to supply them
with primary sources, exercises and so forth. Textbooks, of course, are sold
on the state and national level, so they have little interest in primary
sources from a local institution.  This is just one of many roadblocks
teachers and archivists have when working with each other.

This is not to say that this isn't an important issue.  Archivists do need
to work to do more outreach to teachers, but I think one of the first steps
is for archivists to more fully understand the needs and wants of teachers.
And this can't be based on work archives have done with teachers in the past
because conditions have changed.

We have received a very small grant to pay an intern to look further into
the issue of how archivists can meet teachers needs.  She is working on the
project now.  Contact me this summer for an update.  I expect this project
to be only a baby step towards the larger issue, but every step counts!

Oh, and I too was at the SAA session mentioned in a previous email.  I think
it would be worth your while to contact the speakers involved.  It sounds
like an amazing program!  However, be aware that their program may not be
able to be replicated everywhere.  They have entire classes of students
visit their facility during the school day several times over the course of
the year.  I know in many places this is not feasible for funding or other
reasons.  For instance, there are many districts in New York State that
rarely even have field trips anymore because they do not take trips if the
terrorism threat level rises, and they don't want to risk wasting time and
money to plan trips that don't happen.  Us archivists definitely need to
think of ways that we can come to students and teachers rather than the
other way around.

Susan D'Entremont

Susan D'Entremont
Regional Archivist
Capital District Library Council
28 Essex St 
Albany, NY  12208
(518) 438-2500
www.cdlc.org
[log in to unmask]

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Archives & Archivists [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf
Of Catherine Sherman
Sent: Monday, March 06, 2006 1:51 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Early Friday Funny

Hi all,

I'm a first-year archives grad student at the U. of Maryland, and I've been
watching this conversation with interest as it relates to a research project
I am undertaking.  I am examining the use of primary sources in
undergradaute teaching of history, and I'm discovering a disturbing lack of
discussion in the archival community regarding our role in that process.  
Perhaps you all, who are more experienced and well-read than I, can offer
some thoughts on this.

In my search for literature on this topic, I have found a good deal of open
discussion among educators about the use of primary sources in teaching.  In
addition to general discussion, there are numerous presentations of
individual teaching methods that integrate primary sources.  However,
collaboration with members of the archival profession often seems a novel
afterthought, if it is mentioned at all.

Among archivists, undergraduates are relegated most often to a brief mention
as one of our many user populations in writings on reference or user
studies.  The research needs of graduate students is a vogue topic, as is
making history more "alive" for students (most often K-12) by having more
"face time."

But to date, I have found next to nothing written in either field that
focuses specifically on collaboration between archivists and educators
(especially at the undergraduate level).  We seem to consider instructors as
just another user group who we are happy to assist when they come through
the door, but we never talk about seeking them out first.  There are a very
few articles highlighting individual cases of such collaboration, but it is
not a topic of general discussion at all.

Why?  We can all agree that this is important, and even that it is occuring
here and there.  So why isn't it discussed?  And why does it seem to be such
a novel idea when it occurs to an educator at all?  Why do we care so much
about serving the users who come to where we are, but we don't want to
consider openly the possibility and importance of extending our role beyond
the repository door?

These are my honest questions to you "veterans" as I enter the field.  I
have an image in my mind of The Archivist standing in the open door calling
people to come in, but refusing to step over the threshold and go lead them
in by the hand.  I'm hoping that the failings are in my search strategies,
and not in our focus as professionals.

- Katie

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