The local public library can be a homeschooling family’s best resource. Here are some ideas for taking maximum advantage of libraries in your area:
- Don’t just try the nearest library, make an effort to visit all of the libraries available to you in your area. Different amenities may be available at each location. Get cards from multiple libraries if necessary. Don’t forget to see if the colleges and universities in your area will allow you to check out materials. Colleges with teacher education programs often have excellent educational materials.
- Be sure to pick up fliers listing the resources and activities available at each library. What classes, story times, lecture series and tutoring programs are available?
- Take time to meet the children’s librarian as well as the reference librarian. These librarians are excellent resources for unit study ideas and research projects. They can alert you to resources that you may not know about. Share what you are planning to study for the year. Many times children’s and reference librarians are looking for ideas on new books to order, and your curriculum plans may help.
- Check to see if your library offers inter-library loans for books and videos.
- What online resources does your library offer? Online catalogs are very helpful for searching from the comfort of home. Can you renew your library books online? Does your library give out passwords for special online collections and sites?
- If your library does not give receipts for books checked out, make it a habit to have your children complete a library book log to keep track of how many books to return. Assign a child to mark the due date on a calendar as soon as you return home.
- Are there conference or meeting rooms available for you to reserve to work on a project? A conference room may be a more comfortable space to work in if you are also bringing younger children along.
- Does the library have display space available for larger homeschool projects? Perhaps your library may allow your child to display his science project for a week or two.
- Are there special library privileges for teachers that you can also use, such as longer check-out dates, or sets of themed materials. It never hurts to ask!
- Are there library-related service projects available for your child to participate in? Sorting books for a book sale, organizing display cases, etc.
Originally posted in November, 2010.