University Libraries Publications and Scholarship

The Reading Room Goes Virtual: Retooling First Year Experience Class Encounters with Archives and Primary Sources in the Wake of COVID-19


In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Fall of 2020, Mississippi State University librarians who taught archives-based First Year Experience classes had to make significant changes to their syllabi. In addition to the classes no longer meeting in the library itself, activities like archival visits, interactions with the physical materials, scavenger hunts, group projects, and games had to be replaced with in-class assignments and projects based on items available in the digital collections. Ultimately, the semester, with all of the stress and unknowns that came with it, gave instructors an opportunity to try new strategies, to increase students’ interactions with primary sources, and to incorporate primary source literacy objectives more than they had in the past. In the process, instructors saw both positive and negative results, leading to suggestions for future iterations of the classes at MSU or elsewhere.


Society of Mississippi Archivists

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University Libraries


archives, primary sources, covid, fye, first year experience


Archival Science | Higher Education | Information Literacy | Library and Information Science