Donna Baker (Albert Gore Research Center at Middle Tennessee State University)
In the 2013 spring semester, the Albert Gore Research Center at Middle Tennessee State University uploaded material to Historypin, a crowdsource platform for historical materials. Instead of populating the center’s profile with collection highlights selected by staff, the students of Dr. Mary Hoffschwelle’s Tennessee History Honors course created collections and a campus tour. Dr. Hoffschwelle’s desire to engage her undergraduate students in history, as well as to have them understand and work with primary sources, equally matched University Archivist Donna Baker’s desire to promote and make collections more accessible. This led to a continuation of the project in subsequent Tennessee History Honors courses. For three semesters, a team combined of Dr. Hoffschwelle, Ms. Baker, and graduate assistants have helped undergraduates create “collections” on various subjects, from Albert Gore, Sr. to campus history to Tennessee Walking Horses, utilizing only the Center’s holdings. The project has changed in that time, evolving in scope and expanding in creativity of collection themes. It has also demonstrated a greater need for information literacy instruction for some students, not to mention the need to address transliteracy challenges. So while this presentation is on the process behind and successes of this collaboration, it must also address questions of assessment, challenges regarding information literacy skills, navigating technology skills, and how to weigh the benefits of labor-intensive projects. It is a presentation about lessons learned, small successes, and thinking more broadly on the use and purpose of archival holdings.