Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

In the Library with the Lead Pipe

Total Pages

10 pages


The short research paper is ubiquitous in undergraduate liberal arts education. But is this assignment type an effective way to assess student learning or writing skills? We argue that it rarely is, and instead serves as an artifact maintained out of instructor familiarity with and unnecessary allegiance to timeworn conceptions of “academia.” As an alternative, we detail the Archives Alive! assignment developed by librarians and faculty at the University of Iowa and designed to bring Rhetoric students into contact with archival collections and digital skills. We also discuss how librarians can collaborate with instructors on new assignment models that build meaningful skills for students, highlight library collections, and foster connections on campus and with the broader community.

Journal Article Version

Version of Record


Copyright © 2015 Tom Keegan and Kelly McElroy

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.