Library Love Letter
By Sophia Sayigh
I used to gather weekly with a group of pre-teen homeschooled boys at a table in the local public library for the editorial board meeting of their quarterly magazine, Dr. Information. Dr. Information featured a regular column called
Dr. Information Prescribes. The boys came up with a topic, be it books, games, movies, music or places to go, and they brainstormed some of their favorites to list. One issue's topic was
Destinations and in the midst of various fun spots such as local ski resorts, amusement parks, and bowling alleys, I heard a loud suggestion of
Robbins Library, followed by a chorus of agreement. No sarcasm here: the local public library was truly one of their favorite destinations.
Twenty years later, public libraries, adept at changing with the times to meet local community needs, remain gold mines for families engaged in home-based education.
AHEM surveyed homeschoolers to see what they most want from libraries, and found that most of what they desire, many libraries already offer:
- Books about homeschooling and educational philosophy (suggestions for a core collection here)
- Presentations about homeschooling in Massachusetts and homeschooling high school
Library of Thingsthat circulates items such as math manipulatives, science kits, microscope and slides, telescope, board games, tools, musical instruments (one example here)
- Foreign language resources such as Mango or Rosetta Stone
- Math, literature, and historical fiction lists
- Unit study kits and curriculum units on specific topics
- Extended borrowing privileges, like many school teachers have
- Daytime programs and opportunities for six- to fifteen-year-olds. Ideas include workshops in library research techniques, librarian-led children's or parent/child book group, and social events for families
- Networking opportunities for parents
- Discounted passes to local museums
- Free meeting space for all kinds of homeschooler organized events–meetings, rehearsal space, regularly scheduled board game and craft days, and events such as science and history fairs and talent shows
- Links to current information on state laws and regulations regarding homeschooling i.e. www.AHEM.info!
If your local library doesn’t offer something that you’d like to see, talk to a Children's or Reference librarian.
AHEM has Considering Homeschoolingbrochures that you can offer to a librarian, while introducing yourself as a local homeschooler. Want a few? Just ask! And then let your librarian know what you love about the library, and how the library can make you love it even more.
Sophia Sayigh, is a co-founder of Advocates for Home Education in Massachusetts, Inc., a professional librarian, and the mother of two adult children, neither of whom went to school until college. She has supported families through volunteer work as a breastfeeding counselor, contributing homeschool support group member, and green burial outreach. She is also the author of a fictional book featuring homeschoolers, Unschoolers.