Trip to UW Library: More like a Treasure Hunt than Work

Post By: Kaelyn Bullock

On December 10, the Sophomores and Juniors loaded the bus and headed to the University of Washington. Students had been researching a topic of their choice, that related to the National History Day contest theme, “Rights and Responsibilities.” Ironically, in this information age, it can be hard to find a good source. This challenging project requires substantial resources. It helps students to become historians, gathering primary and secondary sources and then piecing them together to analyze a time/person/place in history. This trip to the Suzzallo/Allen library was to be the pinnacle experience in their researching journey, which was, “more like a treasure hunt than work.”

When we arrived, students were struck by the beauty of the campus, especially the red square in the heart of it all. One student commented, “it was like visiting Europe without going anywhere.” We were given a tour and orientation of the library. The tour guide enthusiastically pointed out the book scanners, research stations, and told us of the history & architecture of the library building.

Then the students were off in various groups. Students did some pre-searching of the UW online catalog and were able to spend their time searching for the books and articles they needed. One student had no trouble finding books, explaining, “the codes make it really easy to find, so I found mine right away.” Another student has trouble finding hers but she and a librarian, “searched for about twenty minutes trying to find the book and then we finally found it tucked away in an unknown spot that she (the librarian) had never seen before.”

Most of the students were also able to use the microfilm area to search through old government documents and newspapers. A small group of students with Pacific Northwest topics were able to visit Special Collections that has one of a kind, irreplaceable sources, which one student referred to as “primary source heaven.” The security to get in was very tight. Students had to sign it and check their coats and bags. Here students were able to read memoirs from Japanese Internment Camps, the Hanford Project, the police chief's account of the WTO riots in Seattle, and page through Vogue magazines from the 1920s.  

The morning flew by for most students and before they knew it, it was lunchtime. We headed to the food court in Husky Union Building where students enjoyed the variety of lunch options. Surprisingly, students were eager to finish lunch and visit a few of the other libraries and get some more scanning done. A few students were able to take their sources and head to the Suzzallo Reading Room, unofficially called “the Harry Potter reading room.”

Overall, students really enjoyed the chance to find resources they would not be able to get otherwise and the opportunity to visit a college campus. One student said, “although I am still nervous for when I go to college, visiting the libraries made me think that I could survive.” So I think this visit was a success and I hope you will check out the products of their hard work at Open House in February.