Public Libraries Offer Materials and Programs to Help Students and Parents Succeed This Year
When the going gets tough, librarians get going. During the Great Depression, librarians delivered library materials to rural areas on horseback. During World War II, librarians across the country collected books for troops in Victory Book Campaigns. Despite working with small budgets, local libraries have a history of finding ways to meet community needs and advance access to knowledge.
This year, as kids, parents, and teachers get ready to embark on a new, unprecedented school year, library staff at public libraries around Jefferson and Waukesha counties are gearing up to offer what help they can. From digital reading material to homeschooling connections, the public library is another essential school supply to ensure families and educators have a successful school year.
Books and Reading Materials
Let’s start with books. Whether your child is in the classroom or studying at home, your library card provides free access to millions of books and other materials shared between the 24 libraries in the Bridges Library System. Studies show that reading for pleasure leads to an increase in academic success- what better reason to encourage your kids to pick out a book?
Besides the print books on our shelves, you can read or listen to digital books and audiobooks with your library card. Each library offers access to two free apps: Libby and Hoopla. The digital library is always open, so you can find something to read whenever you want. Download the apps for free, enter your library card number, and start reading!
Free Online Learning Tools
Did you know you can use free online learning tools with your library card too? Kids can locate a volcano or watch videos of silverback gorillas in the wild on Britannica School Online. The website offers fun games, videos, and articles for elementary, middle, and high school grades. With Learning Express, students can do practice tests and complete a variety of subject and skill-building courses. Novelist K-8 is a great website to help kids find new favorite books to read based on their reading level and interests. Find all of these links (and more!) on the Bridges Library System website at www.bridgeslibrarysystem.org/databases, then click “Homework Help.”
For those who have limited Internet access, libraries offer free WiFi both in and outside of their buildings, as well as hotspots you can borrow to take the Internet home with you. The Watertown Public Library has even added two WiFi patios in front of their building to accommodate patron Internet needs.
Besides materials to check out, many of our libraries are creating new services or programs to supplement the learning needs of students in their communities. For example, the librarians at the Hartland Public Library are starting a program called “Library School” where kids can take a bundle of books and an activity home that focus on a specific topic, such as volcanoes.
The Jefferson Public Library has over 20 STEAM kits available for kids to take home. Each kit offers fun and interactive activities to help kids learn science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics concepts. The Waukesha Public Library will be hosting a virtual Homeschool Hangout every month through December where kids can do at-home activities together over Zoom. Homeschooling parents can get their questions answered and learn tips, tricks, and insights into educating kids at home at the “Ask An Expert: Homeschool Q&A” virtual program hosted by the Oconomowoc, Watertown, Johnson Creek, and L.D. Fargo libraries on September 24. For your littlest readers, the free 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program and app helps make reading fun for both parents and kids. Contact your library for more information on additional upcoming programs.
Have a Successful School Year
Strong libraries build strong communities. No matter what your school year looks like this fall, remember that you have a community of support behind you, from fellow parents to teachers, school administrators, and public librarians. As we move forward through these historic, uncharted waters, may we all find ways to lend a hand, support one another’s choices, and cheer each other on.
Written by Jill Fuller. A version of this article appeared in several local newspapers in August 2020. We are sharing those pieces here on our website a few weeks after each piece has been printed.