Dangerous Liaisons - UW Libraries

June 23, 2017

This Summer’s UW Libraries High School Internship: Reaching Out to College-Bound High Schoolers

Kian Flynn

by Elliott Stevens and Kian Flynn
Schools may be out for summer, but on July 5th, three high school students from Nathan Hale High School in northeast Seattle will be arriving at the UW Libraries to take part in a three-week, 20-hour internship. 
During their internship, the three students—Eyeru, Itzetl, and Abdu–will create digital stories, conduct research using our library’s collections and databases, and develop their information and data literacy skills. All three students are frequent users of their local SPL branch in Lake City, and plan to be the first in their families to attend college in the U.S. We hope this internship will introduce them to the many offerings of a large research library and potentially even spark an interest in a career in librarianship!
The students will be presenting their digital stories to interested library staff and guests on Wednesday, July 19th at 1:30 pm in the Research Commons (look for an announcement in an upcoming WON); we’d love to see you there.
This summer will be the first time that the UW Libraries sponsor a high school internship of this type. One of the many inspirations for this internship was a desire to build partnerships between the UW Libraries and the broader Seattle community. The Seattle Public Library, and particularly SPL Teen Services Librarian Nancy Garrett, have been instrumental in promoting this internship opportunity and connecting us with interested students. Three SPL librarians will be visiting on the afternoon of Friday, July 14th, to observe the internship and discuss opportunities for future partnerships. If you’re interested in connecting with SPL, let us know and we can arrange a meeting time.
We also hope that the students taking part in this internship will end the internship with a greater awareness of the LIS field and feel comfortable using library resources and reaching out to librarians for help.  Many readers of this blog are likely familiar with recent research showing that students entering college are not always equipped with the information literacy skills that are necessary in college-level classes. Below you’ll find some takeaway points from the recent literature on the information literacy skills of high schoolers and first-year college students. The full articles and studies are worth a look as well.
·         “(S)tudents seek help from sources they know and trust, and they do not know librarians.” (Kolowich, 2011)
·         94% of surveyed high school teachers reported that their students are “very likely to use Google in a research assignment, while only 17% of teachers said their students would seek out a research librarian at their school or public library. (Purcell et al., 2012)
·         “(F)irst-year college students…arrive poorly prepared to make good use of the resources that their institution’s library provides.” (Varlejs and Stec, 2014)
While working with three local students is obviously just a small drop in the bucket, we hope that this summer’s internship serves as a building block for future engagement with high school students, and that Eyeru, Itzetl, and Abdu learn some valuable skills at the UW Libraries this summer that they can take with them into their future academic and life endeavors. We’re also excited to learn from the stories that they will be sharing with us in their digital stories. To get a taste of their prior work and the issues they are passionate about, you can take a look at this short video on the Lake City community that they helped produce with their Nathan Hale classmates.    
Purcell, K., et al. 2012. “How Teens Do Research in the Digital World: Summary of Findings.” (accessed June 2017) 
Kolowich, S. 2011. “What Students Don’t Know.” Inside Higher Ed (August 11). (accessed June 2017).
Varlejs, J, & Stec, E. 2014. “Factors Affecting Students’ Information Literacy as They Transition from High School to College.” School Library Research, Vol.17.