Homeschooling and Libraries

Things I'm thinking about and learning while working with homeschoolers and writing Helping Homeschoolers in the Library for ALA Editions.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Most Libraries Are Only a Decade Behind

“The increasing number of home schoolers and the money they are willing to spend has created an opportunity for bookstores. Often, it seems, simply recognizing and courting the market can make a difference – the books are there. Customer databases and lists of helpful titles that are already in stock can add up to sales. And by listening to home schoolers and providing what they want, retailers can tap into their extensive network of newsletters, radio shows and word-of-mouth recommendations. These potential customers want something a catalogue can't offer – the luxury of browsing, thumbing material to decide whether it is appropriate for their child's age, interest and, yes, the values they want to instill.”
-Gayle White, “Home Schooling Appeals to All Faiths: and They’re Looking for Books and Bookstores” in Publishers Weekly (July 15, 1996)

This is why it’s so important to read Publishers Weekly and other publications related to libraries whose primary audience isn’t libraries. In 1996, this PW article talked about the rise of homeschooling, provided a list of titles of potential use to homeschoolers (and others!), and gave the above concise description of how to best serve them. Most libraries already have wonderful materials and services that homeschoolers could and would use, but many homeschoolers don’t know the full range of what’s available. Some homeschoolers even report not feeling welcome in public libraries. These are easy, easy problems to solve. It’s called education and niche marketing, and it works.

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