Using Primary Sources
Hands-On Instructional Exercises
by Anne Bahde, Heather Smedberg, and Mattie Taormina, Editors
March 2014, 170pp, 8 1/2x11
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-61069-434-6
$50, £38, 42€, A72
eBook Available: 978-1-61069-435-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

With its range of in-class exercises, this book serves as an essential tool for educators seeking to expand their repertoire of active learning techniques.

An ideal resource for cultural heritage professionals who teach with original materials, this book provides fresh, adaptable, and easy-to-implement primary source literacy exercises to improve their teaching and engage their students.

Special collections librarians and archivists in academic settings are often confronted with the challenge of teaching classes outside their personal area of expertise, with very little notice or guidance—as the authors of this book can attest. Using Primary Sources: Hands-On Instructional Exercises features 30 adaptable, hands-on exercises that special collections librarians, archivists, museum professionals, and teaching faculty can use in a multitude of instructional situations with K–12, undergraduate, graduate, and library school students.

The exercises teach lessons in both archival intelligence—such as building skills in using finding aids and locating primary sources—and artifactual literacy, such as building skills in interpretation and analysis of primary sources. Each exercise includes sections for audience, subject area, and materials used so that instructors can find customizable, easy-to-follow “recipes” to use regardless of personal experience and expertise. In addition, this consultable reference resource includes a bibliography of readings related to instruction in special collections, archives, and museum environments.


  • Presents adaptable, time-saving, and practical exercises for different audiences, disciplines, and types of collection materials
  • Advances pedagogical practice in special collections and archives beyond "show-and-tell" to mirror the current methods of practitioners in information literacy, which will serve efforts toward primary source literacy and assessment
  • Provides straightforward, time-saving exercises that provide enough detail to offer specific guidance to instructors but allow for flexibility and adaptability
Anne Bahde, MLIS, is history of science librarian in the Special Collections & Archives Research Center at Oregon State University Libraries. She holds a bachelor's degree in English and comparative literature from the University of Chicago, a master's degree in library and information science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and a master's degree in English literature with a concentration in book history and print culture from Central Washington University. Bahde was previously assistant head of special collections and archives at San Diego State University. Her research interests include primary source literacy, instruction and assessment in special collections and archives, and advances in researcher access to manuscript and archival materials.

Heather Smedberg, MLS, is the reference and instruction coordinator for special collections and archives at University of California, San Diego. She received her bachelor's degree in history and in secondary education from Butler University, and her master of library science degree from Indiana University. Her research is focused on improving the user experience and broadening meaningful access to special collections and archives; most recently, she has worked on developing pedagogically sound student experiences with original primary source materials.

Mattie Taormina, MLIS, is head of public services and processing manuscripts librarian for Stanford University's Special Collections & University Archives. She has worked in the fields of records management, museums, and political research. Before coming to Stanford, she worked for State Librarian of California, Dr. Kevin Starr. Taormina received a master's degree in public history from Sacramento State University and a master's degree in library and information science from San Jose State University. She is passionate about instruction and getting primary sources into the hands of early undergraduates.


2016 Primary Source Award in Research—Center for Research Libraries, April 20, 2016
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