National History Day: an opportunity for K‐16 collaboration

Kate Manuel (New Mexico State University Library, Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Publication date: 1 December 2005



For more than 25 years, the National History Day (NHD) program has a number of distinctive features that make it a uniquely powerful collaborative vehicle for information literacy instruction. By requiring that student participants do in‐depth research using primary source materials, NHD strongly encourages integrated learning of historical content and information‐seeking processes, and thus partnerships between history teachers and librarians. Because few middle and high schools have extensive collections of primary source materials, NHD also promotes partnerships between K‐12 schools and academic libraries, public libraries, and museums in making primary source materials available to students. This case study aims to draw on one academic library's three‐year experience of partnering in NHD events in its community.


Describes the NHD program, highlighting the commonalities between NHD learning goals; the National Standards for History: Historical Thinking Standards (Grades 5‐12); the American Association of School Libraries' Information Literacy Standards for Student Learning; and the Association of College and Research Libraries' Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education.


Shows how one academic library was able to successfully implement NHD programming, especially in the area of library instruction, to engage students in their own learning.


NHD participation by higher education librarians, collaborating with their K‐12 counterparts, can be a powerful learning vehicle for elementary and secondary students to learn historical content knowledge, historical thinking skills, and information literacy skills.



Manuel, K. (2005), "National History Day: an opportunity for K‐16 collaboration", Reference Services Review, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 459-486.

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