Tech Talk: Expanding the Conversation on Teaching with Digital Collections

The Digital Learning Team is excited to share a new TechTalks format: video plus.  We know that the standard TechTalks session at 8:30 a.m. isn’t feasible for many, and so this format combines a short video available for viewing at any time with a Twitter chat.  Our first video plus session explores the opportunities to build and teach with digital collections using the Shared Shelf platform.  The video for this session is an edited 10-minute version of a past Tech Talk with Susan Falciani and Lora Taub-Pervizpour.  The video is below and the paired Twitter chat is on October 25 at 8 p.m. Join Susan, Lora, and members of the Digital Learning Team on Twitter for 45 minutes (or as long as you can), tweeting with the hashtag #bergcollects.



Muhlenberg is one of 42 small independent colleges around the country participating in the Council of Independent Colleges Consortium on Digital Resources. Funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the initiatives supports librarians, archivists, and faculty collaborating to advance and understand the uses of digital archives in liberal arts teaching and learning.  Now in its third and final year, Muhlenberg has benefited greatly from participating in this consortial project.

The initiative provides participating institutions with three years of free access to Artstor’s Shared Shelf, a cloud-based asset management service that enables faculty and staff members across many disciplines and departments to organize and access documents, video collections, audio collections, and digital images. The availability of Shared Shelf enables institutions that lack the expertise, time, or software to build and manage digital collections on their own. During the grant period to date, Muhlenberg has built (or is currently building) eight collections, work that engages librarians, faculty, staff, and students in hands-on, experiential and integrative learning:

  • Historical Campus Photographs
  • Muhlenberg in the 40s Digital Stories
  • Navy V-12 and V-5 World War II Photograph Collection
  • Photographic History
  • Protest Artifacts
  • Robert C. Horn Papyri Collection
  • The Muhlenberg Papers
  • The Ray R. Brennen Collection

Among the many projects we have learned about from our CIC consortial partners, below are a few of the ones that stand out for their connections to faculty interests and educational activities at Muhlenberg:

A professor of marine biology at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tennessee, has established an expansive marine biology digital collection of his own photographs from years of researching coral reefs in Key Largo, Red Sea, and Trinidad.  The collections are infused into student learning in courses including General Biology for non-majors, Ecology, and Invertebrate Zoology.

At the University of Puget Sound, a Theater Arts Collection documents the process of campus productions from script to stage through set models, scene notes, costume renderings, production photographs, programs and posters. The collection archives this significant element of campus culture and provides faculty resources for introducing students to working with primary sources, for research on material culture, and for fostering visual literacy and multimodal composition.

At Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina, an English professor has developed The Textile Mill Memory Project and is developing a significant collection of digitized artifacts from the Robert Mercer Vance Collection of photographs, correspondence, clippings, and other items related to the Clinton and Lydia textile mills. Faculty in theater, history, and English are drawing on this collection in their teaching and students are contributing to it in a new course infusing oral history into documentary research.

In this video plus Tech Tuesday session, we invite faculty and staff to explore these resources, watch the video introduction to the Shared Shelf platform and Shared Shelf Commons. Explore the digital collections that Muhlenberg has already created and published to the Shared Shelf Commons, including The Robert C. Horn Papyri Collection, the Ray R. Brennan Map Collection, the Muhlenberg Family Papers, and the College’s historic photograph collection.  During the Twitter chat, some of the things we hope to encourage faculty to imagine include identifying new digital collections related to their scholarship, ways to integrate digital collections into teaching, how to engage students in working with existing collections or creating new collections related to course work.

Further Resources

Peter Carini, “Information Literacy for Archives and Special Collections: Defining Outcomes,” portal: Libraries and the Academy, Vol. 16, No. 1, January, 2016. 191-206.,638

Susan Falciani, “Muhlenberg College Shared Shelf Rapid Update 2016,”

For the full archive of presentation from the CIC Workshop in Washington, D.C.:    

Shared Shelf Commons:

Digital Public Library of America: