Tuesday is our regular Books & Libraries Day in the River Houses, and on the several Tuesdays of September — the first month of the new school year — we (re)introduce some of the general library resources that we recommend to all homeschoolers. Last week we started our annual tour of the Dewey Decimal system; next week we’ll have the first of our Homeschoool Research & News posts summarizing recent academic work available in online libraries; on Constitution Day (the 17th) we’ll invite you to visit the U.S. National Archives, the home of the Constitution itself; and on the fourth Tuesday of the month we’ll step across the Mall from the National Archives and down Independence Avenue to pay a visit to the Library of Congress.
This week we ask: have you found all the libraries in your local area? There may be more than you realize!
Many homeschooling families make a tradition out of regular trips to the local library, whether weekly, or monthly, or for some (it may seem) daily! The current Year of Pestilence may have forced you to cut back on your schedule a bit, but the plague will soon lift, and even with restrictions there are many local library resources available online. But are you sure you know all the libraries in your area that could be useful to you and your students?
WorldCat (worldcat.org) is the online global service that provides access to the individual collection catalogs of tens of thousands of local libraries all around the world, public and private, large and small. WorldCat also has a Library Finder feature that will let you type in a location and receive a list of all the libraries in that area. In the United States, I’ve found that the search works best using a zip code — why not give it a try:
For example, if you live in Boise, Idaho, and enter your zip code of 83701, you’ll find that there are more than 100 school, college, and specialty libraries listed in your area, from the Pepper Ridge Elementary School Library, to the Brown Mackie College Library, to the Meridian Idaho East Family History Center Library.
It may well be that your local town library is the only one near you, especially if you live in a remote area. But you may also discover, for example, that a local hospital has a medical library that could help a homeschool science student, or that a local courthouse has a specialty law library that would be suitable for a social studies project. There may also be small college and technical school libraries in your area that you haven’t yet explored.
Not all these specialized libraries will be open to the public or will have regular hours, of course. But the WorldCat Library Finder will generally give you a street location and contact information for each collection, and if you call and ask whether a local homeschool student could use their facilities for a special project, you might receive a pleasantly positive answer.
Give the WorldCat Library Finder a try and make a list of new libraries to explore in the homeschool year ahead.
What educational discoveries will you be making in your library this Cygnus Term? 😊
❡ Books in the running brooks: The sidebar on the River Houses website (riverhouses.org) has links to several important online library collections that we like to explore, as well as permanent links to WorldCat and the WorldCat Library Finder. Why not sit yourself down at a large screen for a while (rather than a phone) and give them a browse. 🔎
❡ When in doubt, go to the library: This is one of our regular Homeschool Books & Libraries posts. Add your name to our weekly mailing list (riverhouses.org/newsletter) and get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 📚