University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Instruction and Class Visits

For fully vaccinated Notre Dame faculty, staff, students and visitors, masking is now optional indoors on campus. Those students, faculty, staff and visitors who are not fully vaccinated must wear masks inside campus buildings, including in Rare Books & Special Collections spaces. Anyone who would prefer to wear a mask in any setting is welcome to do so.

The Special Collections reading room is currently open by appointment only, but the exhibit room and reference collection remain open to all during our regular hours (Monday - Friday, 9:30am - 4:30pm).

Special Collections offers a range of services for instructors interested in teaching with and about the books, manuscripts, and other material in our collections. Our staff can provide help with identifying appropriate material and developing class assignments. We are also prepared to assist with or conduct any of a variety of instruction sessions ranging from a general introduction about the resources that are available in Special Collections to an in-depth session focused on specific materials and their historical contexts as well as specialized sessions that incorporate course- or assignment-based resources and activities.

Our instruction philosophy aims to cultivate undergraduate and graduate students’ abilities to think critically and to contextualize, investigate and authenticate historical and cultural documents. Student engagement with primary sources can be a key part of the transformational educational experience identified by Notre Dame’s Strategic Plan as vital to student success. We work closely with teaching faculty to develop sessions that promote and encourage these outcomes.

Special Collections Workshops

Examples of Class Instruction in Special Collections
(with links to examples of RBSC materials used)

  • HIST 93263: Iberian Atlantic Empire

  • IRST 30371: Introduction to Irish Writers

  • MI 20252: Myths of the Dark Ages

  • MI 40005: Latin Paleography

  • POLS 13181: Ten Images of Hell in the 20th Century

  • POLS 13195: Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley

  • ROFR 30720: Knowledge, Culture and, Aesthetics in France

  • RU 30525: Contemporary Russia: Media, Art, and Politics

  • THEO 60648: Christian Ethics

How to Arrange a Class in Special Collections

Contact Special Collections by email at:

Please provide the following information in your email:

  • course number and title;

  • preferred day/time for your class visit;

  • a description of what type of session you would like.

If you are unsure and want to discuss options, let us know. We’re happy to help.

Classroom Space in Special Collections

We have two classroom areas:

  • Our seminar room holds about 16. It is equipped with an overhead projector that can be connected to a laptop or to the in-house WolfVision document camera that allows an object to be placed below it and projected onto the screen for full class viewing.

  • Our main room can accommodate classes up to about 25 students. Various configurations are possible to accommodate your class needs. We also have a large monitor to which you can connect a laptop.

Both spaces can get booked quickly during the semester. Please contact us as soon as possible to reserve a date and time for your class visit.

What to Expect When You Bring Your Class to Special Collections