Our New Special Collections and Preservation Department Classroom…and a Personal Archiving Class!

The new classroom in use! (And oh yes, if you look closely, the presenter at the front (Laura Sullivan, Assistant Archivist) is holding a real-life 8-inch floppy disk – physical proof about how important it is to keep track of those digital files you wish to keep for the long-term!)

If any of you have ventured up to the fourth floor of Parks Library this year, you may have noticed a few changes going on.  Students have new furniture to study in…and our department has a wonderful new classroom which we have been excited to use for visiting classes! Instead of having to peer over each other to see the artifacts and other items we use for our tours, students can now sit in the comfy seats after a tour of our department and more easily see and hear the accompanying presentations. The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust awarded a grant of $137,150 to the Iowa State University (ISU) Library to create a technology rich classroom, with a variety of computer and multimedia technology.  The classroom will be used for a variety of uses, including instruction by both the Special Collections and Preservation Departments.

The classroom under construction:

Interior of the classroom showing just the studs in place.

The classroom’s frame!

The new classroom in use!

The fourth floor also received new carpeting.

Since its opening in Fall 2011, the Special Collections Department has used the classroom for a variety of visiting classes and groups, including ISU’s Honors Program and Horticulture Learning Community, National History Day students, and classes in English, Higher Education and History. The Special Collections Department hosts many tours and classes throughout the year, and we are looking forward to the opportunities this new space provides!

Last week, we had a group of OPPTAG (Office of Precollegiate Programs for Talented and Gifted) students from all over Iowa visit our department for a special presentation on personal archiving, which included a tour of our department.

Michele Christian (Collections Archivist) giving a behind-the-scenes tour of our storage area. Researchers do not usually get to see the area where our collections are stored since we have closed stacks for the materials’ safety. However, tour groups usually get a brief glimpse!

The classroom really allows us to show students and other visitors the types of materials we have, give lectures, and conduct hands-on activities. We were even able to pack in all of the above, and a tour, for the 45 minute presentation to the OPPTAG students!

Michele showing Margaret MacDonald Stanton’s death mask. During the Victorian era, death masks were used as mementos of the deceased. Stanton’s death mask is a wonderful artifact to show students, both for its artifactual value and teaching opportunity about how times and traditions have changed (or not – during this presentation a student asked if the mask was equivalent to paw prints veterinarians sometimes give to owners after their pets have passed away).

Laura Sullivan (Assistant Archivist, and author of this blog post) giving a brief presentation to the students about how they can be their own archivists. Our new classroom has a wonderful camera which displays images on the two screens in the classroom. I’m explaining to the students about how some materials used to store documents and other materials can degrade over time – such as the warped and shriveled PVC slide holders shown on the screen.

The last part of the presentation included a demonstration on properly sleeving photographs. The students were then able to sleeve some photographs of their own, and we walked around the room trying to answer all of their questions!

Michele and I really enjoyed being able to use the classroom, and we would not have been able to do such a demonstration and hands-on activity without it.  We are looking forward to being able to use the classroom for future presentations!

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