Iowa homeschooling mom, Michelle Andersen, is also an Iowa library director, which explains her enthusiasm for sharing the many incredible FREE resources available at and through your local public library.
Check out this list from Michelle!
1. EXPLORE BOOKS, MAGAZINES, DVDs, AND AUDIOBOOKS
All kinds of reading material are available to enjoy or to support your curriculum. Your local library may even have collections of puzzles, games, kits, and other items that can be checked out.
2. UTILIZE INTERLIBRARY LOAN
Even if your local library doesn’t have the book you want, you can request it from another library. Some libraries may charge a fee to cover postage, but it is still far less expensive than purchasing the book for a one-time use.
3. DOWNLOAD BOOKS AND MORE
Bridges (bridges.overdrive.com) is the all-Iowa online resource with over 30,000 e-books, e-audio books, and even downloadable films. The OverDrive app is accessed by signing in with your local library card.
4. ACCESS RESEARCH TOOLS
Whether for personal edification or homeschool assignments, you can use two new Iowa library online research tools, Credo Reference and Gale Pages. Links are provided below to the home pages for these sites, but both are accessed using login information provided by your local public library, or through a State Library card.
Credo Reference is like having a super-charged reference shelf at your fingertips. Think of it as an exhaustive set of dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, and more. There are even topic pages and mind maps to aid you in your search. Each article comes with a prepared citation for those using it for academic purposes.
Gale Pages is a periodical search tool from trusted sources (not filled with ads like generic internet search tools). Searches can be wide-ranging or limited to pictures, graphics, or videos, depending upon what is needed. With a variety of collections to explore and special sections set up for elementary users (KidBits) and middle school users (Research in Context), students will be amazed at the reliable information they will find! Gale resources also come with prepared citations for use in research papers and other such academic pursuits.
5. LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
Transparent Languages is another new statewide resource available through your local library. There are many languages to choose from and a variety of ways to learn…including using the app on your phone for convenience. Contact your local library for login information.
6. PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE
Learning Express Library is an interactive tool designed to help students prepare for college entrance exams, explore careers, and even learn how to use computers. This incredible resource for kids and parents even provides skill practice tools for developing the core subject skills of upper elementary, middle school, and high school students.
CHECK OUT YOUR LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY
The best way to start exploring your local library's resources is to introduce yourself to the library staff and ask what your community library has to offer. I requested a one-to-one session to teach my son how to research periodicals, and they were happy to arrange it. My friend asked if a computer skills class that was being offered after school could also be offered during the day for homeschooled students, and it happened. Librarians are helpful folks with a lot of knowledge and creativity. If you have something that you don’t know how to do or find, ask your librarian!
Michelle Andersen has homeschooled 4 boys (ages 8 to 17) for nine years, and also serves as an Iowa public library director. She is excited to share with other homeschooling parents some of the many benefits that Iowa public libraries can provide to enhance and encourage learning.