Inside the Black Box: Political Science, Archival Collections, and Teaching with New Tools

By Matt Cook.

Published by Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

New technology allows for and supports new workflow methodologies in academia and, more specifically, the Library world, from the digitization of analog materials for remote patron access to social media and the tagging of resources in the Library catalog. Data visualization and mobile media add an interesting wrinkle to this environment. But can these means and tools revolutionize the way that professionals provide intellectual access to, in this case, archival collections? We are introducing 20 undergraduate students to an unprocessed Congressional collection and asking them to create a finding aid for it. Employing a tablet, we want them to track and represent relationships graphically as part on an interdisciplinary class taught by a Political Scientist and a Librarian. Will the Archival finding aid of the future not be an EAD-encoded electronic document, but an interactive "picture" generated by Open Source software? And, more importantly, will these students not only make and depict connections within the collection, but will they draw from these connections a well reasoned research paper linking the raw material to broader issues, stories, and people in American social and political history? Beats me.

Keywords: Technology, I-Pad, Primary documents, problem based learning

Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.61-75. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 624.445KB).

Matt Cook

Head, Unique Collections and Scholarly Communication, John Spoor Broome Library, California State University Channel Islands, Camarillo, CA, USA

Matthew Cook is a Associate Librarian at California State University Channel Islands and Heads Unique Collections and Scholarly Communications. He has an M.A. in 20th Century US History from George Mason University and an MLS in Library Sciences from the Catholic University of America. He has worked at the Library of Congress, the United States Senate Historical Office, the Chicago History Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Illinois Institute of Technology as an Architecture Librarian. He has worked throughout his career to digitize and make available Library and Archival Collections that are difficult to serve, include the Haymarket Affair Trial Transcripts at the Chicago History Museum and the Farm Security Administration photograph collection at the Library of Congress.