Library Services for Homeschoolers

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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

Success Stories

Teen Publishing Project - An initiative of the Marathon County Public Library (MCPL), in which teens county-wide are invited to submit writing and artwork for online publication, librarian and peer awards, and the chance to be included in an annual printed magazine ("Pixel & Pages"). Community response to this project has been very positive and enthusiastic, particularly among home-schooled teens and their parents. Extra-curricular activities that offer community-wide recognition for student writing and artwork are especially rare for this demographic.

Excellent Websites/Initiatives for Homeschoolers

  • National Center for Education Statistics
  • Homeschool Legal Defense Association
  • National Home Education Network
  • National Home Education Research Institute
  • Homeschool Creative Commons

Tips for Providing Quality Services to Homeschoolers

Top 10 Ways to Help Homeschoolers in the Library

Ten important things libraries can do to better serve homeschoolers from her PowerPoint presentation, 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).

Blogs/Websites to Watch

  • Homeschooling and Libraries Blog by Adrienne Furness

Specific Blog Posts/Articles to Check Out

Anderson, E. (1996).Homeschooling and libraries--An intimate view. Alki. 12, 22-3.

Brostrom, D.C. (1995). A guide to homeschooling for librarians. Fort Atkinson, WI: Highsmith Press.

Brostrom, D.C. (1997). No place like the library. School Library Journal. 3, 106-9.

Campbell, C.B. (2002). Shelby county public libraries and homeschooling parents. Alabama Librarian. 1, 11-12.

Furness, A. (2008). Helping homeschoolers in the library. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Furness, A. Helping homeschoolers in the library. [PowerPoint presentation]. Retrieved February 13, 2009.

Gemmer, T. (1987). Homeschoolers and the public library. Alki. 12, 96-8.

Gemmer, T. (1991). The library response to homeschooling. Alki. 3, 20-3.

Isenberc, E.J. (2007). What have we learned about homeschooling? Peabody Journal of Education. 82 (2/3), 387-409.

Kaplan, P. (2001). Reaching out to homeschooling families: Services and programs. Illinois Libraries. 1, 44-6.

Kleist-Tesch, J.M. (1998). Homeschoolers and the public library. Journal of Youth Services in Libraries. 3, 231-41.

Klipsch, P.R. (1995). An educated collection for homeschoolers. Library Journal. 120(2), 47-50.

Lerch, M.T. & Welch, J. (2004). Serving homeschooled teens and their parents. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Madden, S.B. (1992). Learning at home: Public library service to homeschoolers. Alki. 3, 20-2.

McCarthy, A. & Andersen, D.L. (2006-2007). Homeschoolers at the public library: Are library services and policies keeping pace? JLAMS, 3(1), 5-44.

McLean, C. (2001). Outreach to homeschoolers. Alki,3,13.

Ray, B.D. (2004). Homeschoolers on to college: What research shows us. The Journal of College Admission, 184, 5-11.

Sheffer, S. (1995). A sense of self: Listening to homeschooled adolescent girls. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers, Inc.

Scheps, S.G. (1999). Homeschoolers in the library. School Library Journal. 2, 38-9.

Scheps, S.G. (1998). The librarian’s guide to homeschooling resources. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Slattery, A. (2005). In a class of their own: as more families turn to homeschooling, public libraries can be an invaluable resource. School Library Journal. 8, 44-6.

Wichers, M. (2001). Homeschooling: Adventitious or detrimental for proficiency in higher education. Education. 122(1), 145-150.