Library Services for Homeschoolers
Homeschoolers are a uniquely resourceful, independent, and intense group of people! As homeschooling, the fastest growing form of education, increases 7-12% per year, public libraries need to be prepared to serve this population. I am currently a full-time graduate student at San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science, months away from getting my Teacher Librarian credential and MLIS. In addition, I am a credentialed educator in the State of California and homeschool my three children. Over the past few years, I have done extensive reading regarding the homeschooling movement and library-homeschooler symbiotic relationships. I am quite passionate about the role of libraries in better serving the educational needs of homeschooling families with school-age children. I offer the following resources to help you with improving the public library as a learning center for local homeschoolers. I encourage you to study your homeschoolers to provide a deeper understanding of their impact on your library as well as essential feedback for making changes to library collections, policies, and programs. --Janine Weston
Top 10 Ways to Help Homeschoolers in the Library Ten important things libraries can do to better serve homeschoolers from Helping Homeschoolers in the Library, Adrienne Furness (2008): 1. Talk to homeschoolers who visit the library. Find out what the homeschoolers in the area are looking for. Remember, not all homeschoolers are the same. 2. Make sure people can find homeschooling materials—they can’t check out what they can’t find. Make a special section for homeschooling materials. Spine labels or pathfinders can make resources more visible. 3. Learn what homeschooling groups are active in the community, what their missions are, and who is running them. Tap into existing networks using word-of-mouth interaction. Remember that homeschoolers can be ultra-sensitive about privacy issues. 4. Allow and encourage homeschoolers to use library meeting room space. This gets the homeschoolers into your library and provides the opportunity to market library resources and services. 5. Display projects created by homeschooled children and teens. 6. Create handouts of the state laws and regulations pertaining to homeschoolers. 7. Maintain a file of catalogs from companies that sell materials and supplies of interest to homeschoolers. Items can be stored in boxes and either circulated or made available as reference materials. 8. Extend any privileges made for to public and private school teachers (extended loan, no overdue fines, increased limits, etc.) to homeschoolers. Homeschooling parents are teachers. 9. Consider the needs of homeschoolers when creating library policies such as meeting rooms, loan periods, item limits, interlibrary loan fees, overdue fines/maximum fines, and volunteer programs. 10. Attend local homeschooling conferences, lectures, and curriculum fairs. Talk to homeschoolers to find out what they are talking about. Look at potential acquisitions for your collection. Attend annual state homeschooling conference (p.93-95).
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