At its core, the Lilly Library is a site of teaching and learning. The teaching that takes place in its classrooms and galleries is grounded in lifelong learning, primary source literacy, and the history of the book. We encourage curiosity and interrogation of the collections and the spaces where they are preserved and exhibited, recognizing that libraries and archives are not neutral, but the result of hundreds of intentional choices made by human beings with conscious and unconscious biases. The Lilly Library and its staff prioritize transparency in discussing how and why collections and individual items are present and the contexts around their creation, preservation, and acquisition.
The Lilly Library centers hands-on, experiential learning with the collections, encouraging students and guests to engage with these materials on their own terms, to bring their whole selves into the library, and to exchange knowledge and insight with others respectfully and kindly. We emphasize the development of critical thinking, analytical, and research skills for both undergraduates and graduate students. We work with a wide range of departments on the IUB campus, as well classes and groups unaffiliated with the university.
Teaching at the Lilly Library also centers people, relationships, and connections. First, in collaboration with instructors to develop class sessions and inclusive learning environments, and then with students, as we prioritize the individuality, perspective, and experience of those engaging with the collections. Second, we emphasize the lives and stories contained within the physical collections we steward, the humanity within these objects. Third, each class session held at the Lilly Library includes an orientation to the world of rare books and manuscripts, including special collections libraries and archives. This introduction emphasizes the labor of library and archives workers, booksellers, and collectors, as well as the living, breathing practices of curation, cataloging, archival processing, bookselling, collecting, and interpretation.