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homeschoolers and "teacher" loans at library

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone,


I'm the head of a Children's Department of a public library and we are revamping some of our policies on teacher loans. As it stands now, anyone can tell us that they are a teacher (public, private, preschool, homeschool) and we give them a teacher loan, which means they can take more material and keep it a lot longer. We like being able to offer this to our teachers and this is a community in which there are LOT of homeschoolers. Unfortunately, we just got burned very badly and had a lot of stuff stolen by people claiming to be teachers but who are not.


We want to begin a process to verify that people are teachers. Easy enough in the public/private schools but more challenging in a homeschool or electronic school setting.


Our understanding is that a traditional homeschooled child should have a letter stating that they are excused from compulsory attendance. If this is the case, would you have a problem providing that information to the library in order for you to get teacher loan benefits?


Anyone participate in an electronic school? ECOT or K12 or one of those? Because they are public schools, they don't really have any proof that they are being educated at home, other than that ECOT (a friend teaches for them and gave me that info) issues IDs. Any thoughts on verification for the parents of these students who are supplementing the educational experience with library materials?


We don't want to deny anyone who educates our young people the opportunity to use this service but we do need to find a way to verify that those who want to take advantage of it really are educators.


If anyone has any thoughts on this or if you've experienced needing to prove you are a homeschooler, I'd appreciate your feedback.





post #2 of 23

It must depend on the state... I was homeschooled in Michigan and we didn't have any letters or anything.

post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks, Anka. This is in Ohio and apparently that's the case here. We hate that we need to be so strict about it, but I have to replace an entire non-fiction section of my library because we were trying to be nice. :(



post #4 of 23

My initial thoughts:


  • What state are you in? Homeschooling laws vary by state. Not all states have anything that would produce a letter confirming homeschooling (I'm not sure if "excusing from compulsory attendance" is really accurate anyway, since homeschoolers are full participants in compulsory education).
  • With regard to your recent problem - did the thief have a library card? Were the items checked out under the card? Is there a process through which the library can pursue the items with a civil suit or similar? (I believe that's possible here, though of course it's only done for losses of a certain degree). I guess where I'm going is, is having a homeschooling family go through a lot of hoops going to prevent many - or any - problems at all? I mean, if someone got a library card under false pretenses (fake address, whatever), they could certainly come up with a letter. I just think this would make it quite difficult for the honest people and not really affect the actions of the dishonest. Another thought: who is to say that a real educator might not be the one to make off with the materials anyway?
post #5 of 23

OK, you posted your state while you were writing.


Now I'm thinking if you lost the entire non-fiction part of the library, maybe what needs to happen is some reasonable limits on what you can take out, even as an educator. That's a lot, but I think the mistake was to loan the whole non-fiction part of the library to ANYONE. Extra materials, sure, but permitting that seems far excessive, and I would also have to suspect anyone who asked for that in the first place.


I don't think the problem is verifying educators but in the permissiveness of the policy.

post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 

Oh, I didn't say that right. We lost an entire subject area from our non-fiction collection. not all the non-fiction. And the person did claim to be a teacher but was not. She definitely figured out how to work the system. :( I came from a larger, more urban library with strict policies so when I came to this small, rural library with very lax rules, I was horrified. I wouldn't have let her take that much and wish I had been here when it happened but I can't go back in time. Just make sure it doesn't happen again. And yes, legal action is being pursued in this case. It's a slow process because we had to give her time to make it right/bring the stuff back, etc.


The jumping through hoops thing is where I'm looking for info on an easy way to do this. We know most of our homeschool families and adore them. A lot of them are our best patrons, so I don't want it to be a punishment but we are just trying to protect our own interests.



post #7 of 23

I have to admit, I'm not sure home-schoolers need a whole section of the library!  It sounds like your educator program is for people who are taking out books for a class of 30 kids or something.  Perhaps you could have a seperate thing for homeschoolers which would allow them to, for instance, take out two books per kid they are homeschooling (just verify on their tax return the number of dependents or something)?  I mean, just because you're educating your kids doesn't mean you need all of the same things someone educating 30 kids at a time needs, you know?


The big PITA in our area is that by policy any child (meaning up to age 18) in the library during school hours has to have a parent with them!  Now, there's a family near us with six kids, who don't all need to be in the library, just a couple of the oldest.  Instead of being able to send her older kids down the block to go to the libary, she and her six kids, two in diapers, all have to go together!!!  You should hear her commentary when someone criticises the noise level.



post #8 of 23

That's a great point, Anka. A homeschooler's needs are going to be less than a public school teacher's needs. So perhaps the solution is to permit a certain policy for homeschoolers, but an even more expansive policy for proven educators.


I would imagine that a homeschooler would really only look for the ability to take things out for a longer term. If each child can have a library card (and thus a number of books they can take out) plus the mom and/or the dad, the number of books they have access to should be fine, unless your library is a lot stricter than mine (I don't even know our library's limits... haven't bumped up against them yet... we regularly have 30 items out a time).


A loan term is 3 weeks for a book (1 week for periodicals and movies), and we are allowed to renew it easily (even online) 2 times. So I get 9 weeks for a book no problemo as long as I remember to renew it. Even after that, I think I could ask for special consideration from the librarian (they know us) if we really needed it longer than 9 weeks, so maybe 12 is reasonable.


I don't need more than that, but I could see the benefit of a homeschooler being allowed to take certain items (for a unit study or whatever) out for 12 weeks right off the bat, without having to renew.


It's reasonable to not allow an entire section to go out at once, even for a homeschooler. Really, let's say there's 30 books in a series, they can take out the first 5 or 10 of them. It's not too much to ask a homeschooler to come back when they have gone through those 5 or 10 and get the next in the series. Believe me, I know we will want to have more of them at once, so I would not want to be stuck with having to get just ONE at a time. But having some limits is definitely reasonable.


So, yeah, I vote for DIFFERENT (and less expansive than for educators) policies for homeschoolers (without the hoops). And I suppose if someone really wants the full educator privilege, I guess it's reasonable to present their proof of homeschooling, if that is something that is done in Ohio.

post #9 of 23

As a homeschooling parent, I'd probably be reluctant to provide the library with proof of my homeschooling. Since I can check out more materials than I  can keep up with using just my regular card, I don't think I'd be inclined to persue a "teacher card" unless there was additional material not available to the general public.

post #10 of 23
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post


  • I'm not sure if "excusing from compulsory attendance" is really accurate anyway, since homeschoolers are full participants in compulsory education

To clarify, no US state currently has "compulsory education" laws, but many have "compulsory attendance" laws.  (Our state, WA, is one such state.)

I would ask the local homeschoolers, like in a meeting.  Perhaps their needs are indeed less than a teacher's.  Perhaps you can have something part way.    As a homeschooling mom who uses the library a lot I would be disappointed if my needs were considered less than a teacher's without being given a voice in the decisions.  And I would feel irate to be asked for confirmation, but then, if teachers need proof, and the average library user would not be allowed to borrow so much at once, and I had the chance to get the teacher privilege might think about it some more.


post #11 of 23

I applaud you for going out of your way to make the system work well for everyone.


On a side note - and at the risk of having rotten cyber-tomatoes thrown at me smile.gif, I'd just like to toss in that I think it would be nice to somehow, politely and indirectly, of course, encourage individuals not to check out huge numbers of books and keep them all up to their full time limit when they're not even using them all - there are only so many books that can be read at a time. It makes me wince when I hear about people thoughtlessly doing that, and it seems so unfair to hoard books at home that so many others could be enjoying. I agree that homeschools should be on a different plan, because there are so many more children in a classroom, and there's no reason why homeschoolers can't get their needs met at the same time classrooms are getting theirs met.



post #12 of 23

Lillian, you just inspired me to bring back my library books I'm not using.  I have to agree it is incredibly annoying not to be able to take out a book you want because someone else has it sitting in a pile at home.  bag.gif

post #13 of 23

We don't have any special priviledge for any educators and that is fine with me. I don't want to wait longer for books than I have to now. (3 weeks)


Our library does have a limit on how many books you can check out on the same topic.



post #14 of 23

I have a good relationship with the childrens librarian and I can order what materials I need for homeschooling.  Living in Arizona we don't have any 'cards' or state issued ID that proves homeschooling.  this is a HUGE hassle when I try to get teachers discounts at stores (barnes noble, joanns etc).  We simply file an affidavit once and no one bothers us again.  Yes I have that affidavit and can show if needed but its dated 6 years ago, I can only imagine the looks I'm going to get in another 6 years when ds is finishing up high school. 


Back to your question.  It sounds like you need to revamp the teachers policy at your library.  Most homeschoolers can get whatever they by using the cards issued to the family.  (moms card and each childs card.)  Where homeschoolers needs the most help is locating material, not volumes of material.  I want 1-2 really good books on xyz (or DS wants the books).   I don't need 35 copies of the same book.


I hope that makes sense, ironically I'm in a hurry and on my way... to the library!

post #15 of 23

I am not sure I would bother.


I also work in a small rural library, and we have teacher cards (actually institution cards) which allow people to take out more book for 6 weeks instead of 3.


I am not sure most HSers need more books, but on occasion they might like a longer limit, however renewals are also possible.


Ex:  homeschool family with 3 kids.  Mom and 3 kids come in.  In our system, each person is allowed 20 books per person.  That is 80 books!  


Do any parents gripe at HSing parents being allowed extra books for extra long - because I might  duck.gif

post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 

You guys gave me a lot to think about! Thanks so much for the input.


We often see a homeschool mom take out 60 books at a time. I'm in a community with a lot of large families that are homeschooling. I can think of four off the top of my head that have 4 or more children all HSing. They can keep them for 6 weeks.


Our new policy is going to be that to get a teacher card, you need to request it in writing and provide some way to verify that you are an educator. Because Ohio has the letter, we just want to see a copy of that.


If you have teacher status, you can check out up to 75 items for 6 weeks (there was previously no limit and anyone could request teacher status without any verification process). Our normal policy is 50 items for 2 weeks.


I don't feel that this is too strict and it does give us some control over who we give teacher loans to. It's actually much easier than the hoops that some other libraries make HSing people jump through. They are such a large part of our patron base and such good library users that we don't want to discourage anyone but we needed to install some sort of controls to protect ourselves in the future.


Thanks again!






post #17 of 23

I don't think that's very strict, and I think your policy for the public seems generous enough to me.  


My teeny weeny library is part of a large regional library system.  TRL is based in Olympia and serves all of SW Washington minus the Vancouver area.  They started this in the late 70's or early 80's because some of the communities are incredibly tiny and long distances from a larger "urban" area.  This allows me to get books from all over the library system.  This huge system allows a regular patron to check out up to 50 books for 3 weeks, movies for 1 week.  I can renew them twice if there are no holds on an item.  I can have up to 25 hold requests for each card.  That's more the reason I use all 4 of our family's cards, not the amount of materials.  I can, if I wanted to, bring home 200 items, but that never happens.  What we do bring home we use, though, or I take it back.  I'm not particularly careful because our system is so large, and if someone really wants something they can reserve it (and the librarian knows where we live!)

post #18 of 23

I agree that your policy seems really generous. And I surely do appreciate the consideration of us as teachers.


I'm going to just add my perspective.... As a homeschooler, I would hate to see my local library allow six weeks without recall--particularly if there is no limit on how many books per subject. When DS gets interested in something, it would be really hard to wait six weeks before any good books on the subject became available! Two weeks plus renewals if it hasn't been requested seems plenty generous, a nice balance between letting folks keep things they are excited about and using, against letting someone request something and not have to wait too long to get it.



post #19 of 23

Our library allows 100 checkouts per card (limit of 10 dvds) for 3 weeks. We go to the library 1-3 times a week as my kids (especially my daughter) read so many books we can't check out enough at one time! I routinely have 40-60 books checked out and she can easily read 10 a day if she has 2nd-3rd grade level books (she's 6).


At our old library we would hit the max on all 3 cards (25 items) many days. I wish limits took into consideration the types of books checked out!


As far as educator card - maybe allowing an extra renewal for homeschoolers but not increasing the initial checkout time. That way if no one else wants/needs the book they can keep it longer by renewing it 4 times instead of the 'standard' 3 times. I know there are times where being able to keep a book a little longer would be useful (though not often as we get 3 weeks to begin with)

post #20 of 23
I live in Ohio and our library system does require that you show your excusal letter in order to get a teacher's card. Seems reasonable to me.
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