Author ORCID Identifier

William Claspy

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This essay is the result of an ongoing collaboration among an English faculty member (Kimberly Emmons), a humanities research librarian (William Claspy), and a special collections director (Melissa Hubbard). We work at a private research university, with an undergraduate population of approximately five thousand students. Our campus is best known for its scientific, medical, and engineering research and innovation. Accomplish- ments in the arts and humanities are equally robust, but undergraduates in these fields nevertheless find themselves justifying their interests to a more pragmatic and professionally oriented peer group. Initially, our collaboration was a simple show-and-tell activity meant to give students in the history of the English language (HEL) access to special collections materials. We wanted to offer them an experience that their peers in large science courses were not having. Our ongoing collaboration has led us to rethink this model of an impressive, but isolated, encounter; we now design activities that encourage students to use the library as a laboratory for exploring the English language. We have learned, along with our students, that a research library can be a productive space for asking and answering questions about the history and future of the English language. Regardless of the depth of a school's collections, we argue that integrating library resources (human, textual, and digital) into HEL courses is an opportunity to engage our students and broaden our learning outcomes.


education, higher, academic libraries, library instruction

Publication Title

Teaching the History of the English Language

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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