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University Libraries awarded Teaching with Primary Sources grant

Monday, October 25, 2021

The Library of Congress, the world’s largest library, recently awarded a $83,226 grant to the University Libraries. This funding will bring our library and archival experts together with a multidisciplinary group of University of Arizona faculty to create teaching materials using digitized primary sources.

The announcement for this year’s Teaching with Primary Sources program included 85 organizations that will receive approximately $4.25 million in grants to support teaching and learning.

What are primary sources?

According to the Library of Congress, primary sources are “the raw materials of history.” They are original documents--newspaper articles, photographs, diaries, memoirs, and other records--that were created at the time of an event and tell us about the past.  

We will partner with disciplinary faculty partners to use digitized primary sources from the Library of Congress to teach students. The grant project called, “Fostering the ‘Aha!’ Moments of Learning with Primary Sources through Librarian-Faculty Partnerships,” is behind this effort. 

Building critical thinking skills

Mary Feeney

Librarian Mary Feeney, the director of the grant project, said that enhancing student learning is an important role for the Libraries.    

“After we learned about gaps and needs from interviews with university instructors, we wanted to take steps to introduce and build on a student’s critical thinking skills,” said Feeney. “We saw a great opportunity to address some challenges by reaching out to a wide range of disciplines and using digitized primary sources to make long-lasting learning connections for students.” 

Partnering with instructors on campus

The project focuses on partnering with instructors to find and use primary sources, design assignments, and plan for teaching with primary sources. Library faculty are collaborating with faculty from the College of Education, the interdisciplinary Honors College, the departments of English, Gender & Women’s Studies, and History from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the Fred Fox School of Music in the College of Fine Arts

The teaching materials developed will be publicly available through open access and hosted on this website where they can be reused and repurposed by other instructors. 

“This is a fantastic project team that’s coming together to improve students’ primary source literacy,” said Feeney. “With support from the Teaching with Primary Sources grant, we’ll be able to create teaching materials and plan events to introduce them to instructors across campus.” 

Project team 

University Libraries faculty members:
Rachel Castro, Experiential Learning Librarian and Liaison Librarian, College of Fine Arts
Lisa Duncan, Assistant Librarian & Collections Management Archivist, Special Collections
Mary Feeney, News Research Librarian and Liaison Librarian, School of Journalism and Departments of History and Gender & Women’s Studies
Leslie Sult, Liaison Librarian, College of Education
Niamh Wallace, Liaison Librarian, Department of English and Schools of Anthropology, Government & Public Policy, and Middle Eastern & North African Studies

University of Arizona faculty members:
Michelle Berry, Director, Undergraduate Studies, and Assistant Professor of Practice, Gender & Women’s Studies; Instructor, Department of History
Leah Durán, Associate Professor, Teaching, Learning, & Sociocultural Studies, College of Education
Jennifer Jenkins, Professor, Literature, Film & Archival Studies, English Department; Director, Bear Canyon Center for Southwest Humanities
Jennie McStotts, Associate Professor of Practice, W.A. Franke Honors College
Matthew Mugmon, Center for University Education Scholarship Distinguished Fellow; Associate Professor, Musicology, Fred Fox School of Music
Tyina Steptoe, Associate Professor, Department of History

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