Our family has visited a few libraries through the years. We have scoped out our favorites, and with gargantuan book check out lists and our sometimes unfortunate home tracking system, we pay our overdue fines without regret at those establishments. (We’re already overflowing our bookshelves, so borrowing a good read for a bit makes great sense.)
We’ve also been in non-family friendly libraries. The ones where the children’s librarians glare at those bodies under 5 feet who don’t speak in a “library whisper”. Even as I hear more than I want to know about their personal lives while they chat away at the desk, and my kids are searching fruitlessly for a decent book about Henry the Fifth. There’s that “teacher talk” too. (That tends to raise my hackles, even if our kids can’t quite figure out why they’re having an uncomfortable conversation with the librarian.)
I don’t necessarily call those non-homeschooling friendly libraries, but they’re definitely unfriendly libraries.
Arkansas’ Weekly Vista had an article about one particular library board meeting, where a board member had concerns about the library family friendliness. The focus was on homeschoolers’ perceptions:
Families who homeschool their children don’t have a favorable impression of the library, a member of the Bella Vista Library Board reported on June 9.
“Their perception, whether it’s true or false, is the library is not a family friendly library,” board member Kate O’- Mara said.
One big problem for these families is the library only has four books that provide information about how parents can educate their children at home instead of sending them to public or private schools, she said.
Books on how parents should home educate are useful enough in basic guides, but they’re limiting for an individual family. Maybe the unfriendliness perception was because of the library’s attitude towards homeschoolers? The lack of homeschooling acknowledgment in stocking only 4 books with “homeschool” in the title? I don’t know, but personally, I recommend a lot of public school related books like John Gatto’s The Underground History of American Education.
I’ve also been a new homeschooler looking for that “Homeschool….” help guide. Now, I love to see rows and rows of non-fiction books for homeschooling research, as well as comfy places for parents to land with their kids to enjoy lovely picture books and easy readers. I know I’m in library heaven when I find libraries like that.
So maybe the library director had it right noting the increased amount of non-fiction books.
Also, Farner reminded the board members, in November 2007, the library added 114 non-fiction books for children and 684 easy readers purchased with a grant from the Carl and Alleen McKinney Charitable Trust.
Hard to say if and what the problem is with this particular library, but homeschoolers (and other families) can spot and do avoid a non-friendly library. They’ll go to that next library down for the family friendly library where they spend lots of time (and in our case, lots of library fines). It’s well worth librarians’ time and efforts to create family friendly libraries.