Saturday, March 5, 2011

Did You Know Your Library Offers . . .

This column began with an email. Lorraine at the San Jose Libraries stumbled across an old column of mine and thought I might write an article about free services her library provides.

Apparently, libraries want to reach out to homeschoolers, but many find our community difficult to reach. It’s not like we all meet in one special location or wear pins identifying ourselves or even have a secret handshake. While individual librarians and individual branches may know individual homeschoolers, the people charged with marketing the libraries’ free services are not necessarily out on the floors finding us.

Well, the idea blossomed from a column to a regular section in California HomeSchooler. Lorraine worked to notify librarians throughout California of our idea, and their emails came pouring in. Seems we are a desired group!

Take a moment to find your local library on the list below. If you find them, go visit and use the services. (Did I mention they’re FREE?) Tell them you saw them listed on Homeschool Review. If you don’t see your local library, go visit them and tell them that you would love to learn more about what they offer and share it with other homeschoolers. They, or you, can contact me at I look forward to hearing from them and you.

Note 1: Unless otherwise indicated, services offered are for card-holders of the library listed (except storytimes and book clubs).

Note 2: Services listed are a minute fraction of what each library offers. Visit your library in person or online to see the bounty of resources available to your community. As Margaret at SLO Library put it, “We would love it if homeschool families would ask us for more help!”

Benicia Public Library
Read to a Dog: once a week, children have the opportunity to read to a dog (much more fun than reading to an adult!)
Book Clubs:
grades 2-3, grades 4-5, grades 6-8, and teen; each club meets once a month
In response to a family's request last winter, taught a 5-session course to homeschooled children about Internet safety and word processing

Burlingame Public Library Learning Suite:
serves K-12, college students and adults with one-to-one online tutoring and homework help services, plus has expanded programs to help adults who find themselves searching for jobs and writing resumes.
Tell Me More: language learning software

Corona Public LibraryBrainFuse: online homework and subject help from expert tutors (English and Spanish)
Online version of the World Book Encyclopedia

El Dorado County Library
Library ELF (Eliminate Library Fines): Emails list of books to patrons three days before due date; sends second reminder one day before due date; notice includes calendar of when all checked-out books are due

Escondido Public LibraryHelpNow by BrainFuse: online homework help for grades 3-12; one-to-one tutoring in math, science, social studies and language arts; available daily from 1:00 - 10:00 p.m. in English and Spanish

Hayward Library
Afterschool Homework Centers: onsite tutoring, Monday through Thursday during the school year, with trained tutors online live tutors, available year-round, either from a home connection or laptops at the library

[County of] Los Angeles Public Library
Live Homework Help: live assistance in English, math, social studies, and science.  Services include live tutoring, many online tutorials and resources, as well as assistance in GED studies, resume writing, report writing, etc.

Mono County Libraries online tutoring service available in the libraries and from home
Bilingual (English & Spanish) storytime: 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Mammoth Lakes Branch

Monterey County Free Libraries
Homework Help Centers: one-on-one help, afterschool, from paid homework center coordinators
Kids’ Book Clubs: children discuss books they read, draw alternate covers, etc.
Vietnamese Classes: from beginners on up (Marina Branch)

San Diego City Library
Check out passes to the Children’s Museum

San Francisco Public Library
Rosetta Stone online
Library cards issued in person to any California resident with valid California ID.

San Jose Library
LearningExpress Library: online courses, practice tests (including ACT, SAT, GED, ASVAB, Firefighter, Police Officer, Paramedic, EMT Basic, U.S. Citizenship, Postal Worker, Cosmetology, and Real Estate Agent & Broker exams
)Live Homework Help: online tutoring for kindergarten through second-year college

San Luis Obispo County Library
Tumblebooks: online animated books, classics, comprehension quizzes, and games in multiple languages
Mango Language instruction (like Rosetta Stone)Social Studies Fact Cards: info. about every state, country, president, ancient cultures, CA missions, etc.Facts on File Database: provides in-depth information about current events, historical events, and country informationDownloadable audiobooks for ipods or MP3 players

Santa Clara City LibraryLINK: Free interlibrary loans between local library systems

Santa Cruz Public LibrariesDial-A-Story: kids can listen to a story on the phone (831-429-5780)Chess Club: at the Central and Aptos branchesProctoring Exams: closed book, open book, and online exams (arrangements must be made in advance with either the Youth Services staff or Reference Supervisor)

Sonoma County Library
Book clubs for school-aged children

includes a photo gallery, recipe collection, database of famous people, and data tables; read topics, explore maps and flags, and use the convenient search feature.
Wildlife Encyclopedia: includes descriptive articles, photos, and maps of habitat areas of animals around the world.
teenspace blog:
teen book reviews, award winners and other reading lists, and other great resources for middle schoolers and high schoolers

Now, you may ask, “What can I do for my library?” Simply put, use their services. Usage is tracked, and underutilized programs are the first to be cut. Don’t think about going. GO!

Article by Sarah J. Wilson

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