Collections teaching: options and resources

This webpage outlines the variety of ways that we can support teaching with collections sessions.

Using pre-recorded and ready-digitised material

There is already a range of digital resources and digitised material that can be easily embedded on Blackboard for use in teaching.

We have a set of videos created to help students navigate and access the collections. A playlist of these can be found on our YouTube channel. Topics covered include searching and understanding the collections database, subject specific collection highlights and a general introduction to the collections (coming soon).

Some of the collections can be viewed on the Enterprise catalogue, including some of the key photographic collections. Enterprise can be accessed here and there is also a short video guide to searching for photographic material.

We are currently working on a Virtual Reading Room interface to provide access to digitised content from the collections (AVAILABLE SOON, see Digital access).

More collection resources are available at:
Art UK
• Google Arts & Culture (launching autumn 2020)
• The Visual Arts Data Service (VADS)

If you use any of our resources in your teaching, we would love to hear about it.

Creating or enhancing digital resources

*Please note that some collections are closed or have specific access requirements and so cannot be provided at short notice*

From mid-August 2020, we will be offering staff with the opportunity to book a session to record short videos featuring The MERL, Special Collections and Art Collections items for use in teaching.

Recordings will be made with a HD camera with a microphone attached, operated by a member of collections staff.

More details about this service can be found here.

We can offer scans of collection material at an appropriate resolution for use in virtual teaching sessions. This will enable students to remotely examine items – for example, in close analysis exercises. Images will be provided through secure electronic networks.

Please contact us to request scans of material as far in advance before the session to enable us enough time to make the copies. Contact details and links to session booking forms are below.

Please note that any digitisation will need to comply with copyright licensing guidelines and fair dealing amounts. Consider limiting your focus to a few key manuscripts, letters, or pages of rare books, for example. We can assist with narrowing down and identifying specific material.

Running live sessions

Collections staff can connect live into virtual sessions to provide:
• A quick introduction to the collections – this can be tailored around specific collections
• A guide on how to access the collections
• A live behind the scenes tour of one of our collection storerooms, enabling students to see the size and breadth of the collections
• Show collection items on an overhead camera, complementing digitised collection content featured in the session

Alternatively, we may be able to accommodate you to conduct the collections element live from the collections.

The live elements of virtual sessions require planning in advance, so please discuss any of these elements with us so we can provide them for you.

You can book face-to-face teaching with collections sessions. These will need to comply with the latest health and safety guidelines in relation to COVID-19.

• The maximum capacity for these sessions is 12 including students, yourself, and a member of the collections team to supervise
• Desk and students will be spaced apart as per University guidelines on social distancing
• Collection items will be laid out on desks before the session begins and collected in once the room has been vacated
• Collection items can only be handled by one person during the entirety of the session. Consider assigning students to specific items as only one student can handle a specific item.
• Collections will be prepared for the session and collected in at the end by a member of collections staff wearing protective gloves
• Gloves should not be worn when handling paper-based items and hands should be washed with soap rather than alcohol hand gel

Over the Summer, we will provide a guide for students and staff on how to access the building, the layout of teaching spaces and health and safety measures in place.

Booking sessions

To book a teaching with collections session, please select the complete the booking form for the collection you wish to use from the links below:
University of Reading Special Collections
Art Collections

If you have any questions about the support we can offer you, please contact us by email:
• Special Collections:
• The MERL:
• Art Collections: