Fresh Purpose for Old Paper: Curating Special Collections in the 21st Century Winter 2023

This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

How do our library’s collections represent the past and present of the many Williams communities? What makes a library’s books and manuscripts worth saving? What should we collect, and how are those decisions made? Whose voices are missing? This course will examine the role of Special Collections in the 21st century, going behind the scenes of the Chapin Library and College Archives. We will first consider the library’s existing collections, focusing on what makes these books and manuscripts valuable — and not just in terms of their cost. We’ll consider how historical events are documented in primary sources, and how those documents can support teaching and research. We’ll also learn about the market for rare books and manuscripts and consult with booksellers and curators at a peer institution. For the final project, students will propose the acquisition of a new collection of books or manuscripts for the Chapin Library or the College Archives. We’ll spend the final week of class presenting to a curatorial panel, who will assess the proposals to purchase material for our collections.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 12
Expected: NA
Class#: 1175
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: final project or presentation. collection development proposal, class presentation to library staff (during normal course meeting times)
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: random, if course is oversubscribed
Unit Notes: Anne Peale, Special Collections Librarian at Williams, graduated from Dartmouth College and studied Material Cultures and Book History at the University of Edinburgh; she recently completed her PhD in Historical Geography.
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses
STUX Winter Study Student Exploration
WELL Winter Study Wellness

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