This is a guest post by Alli Hartley-Kong, an Educational Programs Specialist in the Library’s Informal Learning Office.
“What was Cesar Chavez’s life like when he was a kid?” “Why are there streetcar tracks by my house?” At the Library of Congress, there is nothing that we love more than questions, whether those questions are from adult researchers or student researchers. (Those two examples above are real questions submitted by real kids to real librarians.) Right now, we at the Library are working to gather outstanding questions that student researchers have investigated, and we’d like to ask for your help.
As you may know, the Library of Congress is developing a new plan for visitor experiences and exhibits, including a learning lab onsite experience. The youth learning lab will be a space for field trips and family visits—following in the Library’s great tradition of welcoming students—and will be powered by questions kids have for librarians. Each “quest-ion” will become a quest linking to a series of Library collections that visitors can unlock in order to find the answer. Students will explore documents and collections responding to these questions, and learn how student and adult researchers have used the Library to write famous poems, create documentaries, and more!
To create the most authentic space, we are looking for the help of educators and nonprofit partners who provide out-of-school-time programming. We know that across the U.S., kids are using Library of Congress resources in class and at home—and that they are using those resources to inform and inspire projects ranging from science and history fairs, school debates, and advocacy campaigns. Anyone who asks questions, compares and evaluates a variety of sources relating to those questions, and synthesizes information to construct knowledge is a true researcher—no matter their age.
If you believe you have an example of a student research project that used Library of Congress sources with a real-world application that can be a “quest-ion”, please fill out this survey. For privacy purposes, please do not include the child’s full name in your survey responses. We will follow up with everyone we would like to speak further with, bearing in mind Library regulations regarding privacy of minors and parental permission.
We are so excited to hear about your student research. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments, or email [email protected]. This project is being spearheaded by the Library’s Informal Learning Office, which focuses on onsite family and youth visitors. Please feel free to subscribe to Minerva’s Kaleidoscope, as we will post periodic updates on the project.