Teaching and Learning with Collections: The Library as a Site for Exploration and Inspiration
The library is commonly seen as a site for information seeking and directed research, yet it may also serve as a site for exploration and inspiration. The library as Wunderkammer, or a cabinet of curiosities, explored through the senses, is not a new idea, but one that is commonly lost in today’s disembodied digital universe. Library architecture sometimes promotes this identity. But when libraries are mute, and librarians are focused on information competencies, how do students come to perceive the library as a site of exploration and inspiration? Carnegie Mellon University’s Arts Library and Special Collections Department believes that teaching and learning with rare and unique collections—and sometimes even with circulating collections—addresses this question and has special application to the education of arts students. A number of case studies with architecture students are presented in this article.