School Library Journal has a wonderful article by Lora Shinn (former librarian who was homeschooled as a child) called A Home Away From Home: Libraries and Homeschoolers. In the article, Shinn recognizes homeschoolers as loyal library users and interviewed Laura Derrick (president of NHEN) and librarians throughout the country to gather ideas about how libraries can support homeschoolers. The overall theme of the article is that homeschoolers and libraries are made for each other and each can benefit the other:
“I love working with them,” says Ramsey of the homeschoolers. “Their parents tend to check out materials constantly and have increased our circulation greatly.”
The ideas put forth include creating a homeschool "hot spot" in the library or on the library's website, offering tours, programs and collection services, encouraging homeschool volunteers, and hosting homeschool fairs. I would love to see some of these ideas implemented at our library. It was really enjoyable reading about how librarians have worked to create homeschooling programs:
“We’ve stolen patrons from other city libraries because our library will go the extra mile for homeschoolers,” says Richards. “We’re known in the area as the homeschooler library.”
I will admit to being a total library geek. I have had a long time love affair with libraries (used to make cards for the back of my books and check them out to myself) and still think that they have to be one of the best ideas of our founding fathers (Benjamin Franklin to be precise). The idea that I can walk in and free of charge check out all the books that I could possibly read is just pure genius in my book. If I was to go back to school, it would be to get a degree in library sciences. I am still trying to work my schedule so that I can volunteer in the evenings...haven't quite gotten it there yet, but I am working on it!
We are very lucky in that our library system is extremely good...online catalog access, tons of audio books, great programs, large children's and young adult sections. A truly great library system. I don't think that I really appreciated it until we started spending the summers at the beach where the library selection is no where near as robust.
So support your local library and see if they are willing to reach out to homeschoolers. What have you got to loose?