This post is by Kaleena Black of the Library of Congress.
The research process can be fun and rewarding, but it can also present some challenges. For some students, the idea of research might not immediately bring to mind an exciting activity, filled with intrigue, suspense, and joy. Many students, and some adults, too, who are interested in deepening their understanding on a topic and are curious about learning more about an idea or issue, don’t consider themselves “researchers.” And even students who are committed to finding information might not be sure how to begin their research journey.
To help support young people in their personal and academic research endeavors, Library educators and librarians teamed up to develop an online research guide for middle and high school students. A variety of Research Guides have been designed by Library of Congress specialists to help researchers navigate the Library’s analog and digital collections and find resources. Currently, there are hundreds of such guides, covering more than 70 topics that relate to the arts, science, history, social and cultural studies, and more.
With a focus on helping students locate and use digitized resources, this new guide offers tips on finding research inspiration, definitions for primary and secondary sources (with detailed examples for each), strategies for searching primary and secondary sources on the Library’s website and beyond, and suggestions on citing resources appropriately. There is also a feature that allows students to contact a Library of Congress reference specialist if they’re feeling stuck or need extra help in the course of their research.
We encourage you to browse the research guide for yourself and share it with the young researchers in your life.
While research isn’t always easy, it doesn’t have to be intimidating or boring! It can be activated by a student’s own interests and curiosity and be powered by a solid research approach. As Michelle Light, the Library’s Director of Special Collections, has said when talking about the Library of Congress, “You can find the answer to ANYTHING you’re curious about here. What is your question?”
We hope this guide is a helpful addition to the research tools being used by middle and high school students. Let us know what you think!