The internet has had a major impact on how people find and access information. The rising popularity of e-books is also beginning to transform people’s reading habits. As these changes take hold, public libraries are trying to adjust their services to these new realities while still serving the needs of patrons who rely on more traditional resources.
Many people say libraries are important to their families and their communities, but often do not know all the services their public library has to offer. As homeschoolers, the library is a vital component of our learning. Today, I share our favorite library learning resources.
Collections & Exhibits
Libraries frequently have rotating displays throughout the library. In the meeting room of our local library, art is displayed by local artists. The display cases in the lobby showcase collections of community members.
Every library generally has a weekly story time for toddlers whereby a volunteer reads stories, performs puppet shows and dramas, plays games, and does arts and crafts with the kids. In larger communities, story time may even be available in Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, or other language to better serve the community.
We loved Toddler Tales when the kids were younger and we attended every week. The children’s librarians were fabulous and really connected with their young patrons.
One of my favorite library services is A Novel Idea, a community wide book club in Deschutes County. It began in 2003 and remains the largest community read project in Oregon with more than 6,000 residents participating. A Novel Idea events include cultural programs (when we read The Kite Runner in 2005, there were kite fighting demonstrations!), book club kits, books for check out, and the much anticipated author reading and book signing events – all free and accessible for people all throughout Deschutes County.
In Shasta county, the friends of the library coordinate a monthly book discussion group that was open to the public. Many public libraries also provide resources for local book clubs:
- Book Club in a Box allows you to borrow a whole box of books of the same title (usually 13 copies per box). You get to keep the box for 6 weeks.
- Reading Rooms may be reserved by non-profit organizations, such as book clubs, for meetings and events.
Many libraries have monthly game nights whereby patrons gather at the library to play board/card/role playing games with one another. Many bring games to share, for example: Pandemic, Dungeons and Dragons, Carcassonne, Munchkin, and Settlers of Catan.
Teen Advisory Board
When we were living in Shasta County, my daughter was anxiously awaiting the opportunity to serve as on the Teen Advisory Board (minimum age is 13). As a teen advisor, youth volunteers help the library review books and plan special library activities. While there no advisory board where we live now, youth are encouraged to volunteer. Geneva has just begun collaborating with the Teen Librarian and together they look forward to developing more teen programming.
World of Film
Each of the community libraries where we have lived over the years have hosted free public showings of foreign films on a monthly basis. As the Cultural Director for the Sons of Norway lodge, I have even collaborated with the library to bring Kon-Tiki to the big screen.
Audio & e-Books
Many libraries now provide access to books online via OverDrive whereby patrons can download e-books and digital audio books to their computer or mobile device. My son loves to download audio books to our iPad to listen to as he falls asleep or works on his Lego city.
Many libraries have artwork on permanent display, generally showcasing the work of local artists. In many ways, the library serves as a small art museum.
A beautiful life size bronze statue of Mark Twain by Sculptor Gary Lee Price. In this piece the sculptor says he attempts to create a narrative piece that depicts Mark Twain’s inspirational touch in bringing to life Tom Sawyer. Creating a playful connection and appreciation between the author and his characters.
Mango Languages is free for all library patrons in our community and can be accessed anywhere with an Internet connection. Each lesson combines real life situations and audio from native speakers with simple, clear instructions.
At the Redding library, members of the local genealogical society volunteer regularly to assist patrons with family history questions and research. When we lived in Redding, the Shasta Genealogical Society volunteers helped me to complete my application for the Sons of Norway genealogy skills pin.
While this service is not available in our new community, they do provide access to My Heritage, a website for discovering, sharing, and preserving family history. It allow members to connect and stay in touch with relatives, build an online family tree, document their ancestry, share photos, events, messages, and videos. It also has a vast online database, of over 5.7 billion historical records including birth, marriage, death, census, military, and immigration records.
Find more Ways to Learn at the Library by visiting the bloggers at iHomeschool Network.