Articles

Educating Our Patrons: Teaching with Primary Sources in Educational Outreach in Medical Archives

Author
  • Elizabeth Shepard (Bergen County (NJ) Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs)

Abstract

For the past two decades, the wider archives community has embraced the growing trend of using primary sources in both informal and formal educational outreach activities to both engage audiences and teach students critical thinking skills. The author conducted a study using a survey consisting of 36 questions and follow-up interviews to investigate how medical archivists and special collections librarians in medical archives are embracing this trend of using primary sources in educational outreach. The results indicate that medical archivists/librarians are using primary sources in a variety of traditional educational outreach activities such as exhibits, archives tours, and archival orientation sessions to educate and engage audiences on a variety of subjects, including the history of medicine and health sciences, science, art, and literature. However, only a few medical archivists/librarians reported that they are engaged as co-teachers or solo teachers of credited courses. There are many challenges to providing opportunities for medical archivists/librarians to participate in formal educational outreach, including integrating the archives in the parent organization’s educational curriculum, lack of human resources, and lack of visibility of the archives. Despite these hurdles, medical archivists and special collections librarians need to think more creatively about how their collections can be used to educate audiences and other ways they can participate more fully in this important educational opportunity.

How to Cite:

Shepard, E., (2020) “Educating Our Patrons: Teaching with Primary Sources in Educational Outreach in Medical Archives”, Archival Issues 40(2), p.45-67. doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/archivalissues.11889

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Published on
10 Dec 2020