If you do no other programming for homeschoolers, you should at least try to do some kind of library orientation once a year or so. While the general population won’t flock to orientations, homeschoolers will. Homeschoolers have a great need for information and most use the library heavily, and I’ve found that many of them – children, teens, and adults alike – are eager to learn more about the library and how to find information more quickly and efficiently. Library skills are also a part of the curriculums many states expect homeschoolers to cover, and who better to teach library skills than an actual librarian?
Library orientations can be as simple or elaborate as you have the time and energy for. Even a basic tour of the library is helpful. One particularly rewarding thing I’ve found doing orientations for homeschoolers is that they are more open to some of the library’s lesser-used treasures, things like microfilm and pamphlet files, so I always try to make sure I show off some of our more unusual collections and resources.
If you’re ready to go beyond a basic tour, the possibilities are endless: the parts of a book, the Dewey Decimal System, fiction vs. nonfiction, how to use the online catalog, how to use particular electronic databases, how to use reference books. This past fall, we did a workshop for homeschooling parents at WPL on finding fiction by subject that covered ways to find topical fiction using our online catalog, Novelist, and various books. Only a few people attended, but they learned a lot and I enjoyed the program immensely. It’s exciting to share that kind of specialized knowledge with an audience that is interested and will put it to good use. One caution: try to remember to not overwhelm your audience. If you’re going to explore a particular topic, try to keep it focused and manageable. Overloading your audience is never a good idea.