There are some libraries that are offering to help children with their homework. It seems like a perfect match. What better place to have our kids learn than in a library. Here is one excellent example in Columbus.
Kids started trickling, then flowing, in. The tables in the homework-help center at the back of the Hilltop branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library filled up. And the employees and volunteers who guide students through reading, math, science — any homework assignment or presentation or project — hustled from raised hand to raised hand.
On an average day, some 45 kids are here. At some other library branches, it’s not unusual for 90 kids to pack into a homework-help center.
It feels more like a classroom than a library. And, for the first time, the Columbus City Schools are tapping into the potential of the city’s library system on a large scale.
“I had no idea this many kids poured into public libraries all over the city,” said Joyce Hackett, who oversees school improvement for Columbus City Schools. She realized how well-used the libraries were after she began visiting a couple of years ago. “Our kids are here. With literacy being the goal, where better to focus than libraries?”
The homework-help centers aren’t new; the first one opened in 2004 at the Linden branch. But the district is now leaning on the centers to help students after hours. The centers’ staff and volunteers are learning about tougher new math and reading standards, as well as the third-grade reading guarantee, which could hold back students who don’t pass the state’s third-grade exam this year.
“Working toward the third-grade reading guarantee has become a goal of the (library) system,” said Sarah Wright, Hilltop’s homework-help specialist.
The focus is on helping with assigned homework, which reinforces concepts from the classroom.
The district and library have started spreading the message of the centers’ free help through fliers, emails, word of mouth and website announcements. Interim Superintendent Dan Good has publicly and enthusiastically mentioned the libraries’ bigger role.
“We have a very welcoming invitation now,” said Alison Circle, chief customer-experience officer for the libraries. “We’ve had people in the past say, ‘You’re librarians, not educators.’ (But) what we want to do is connect more with schools and students.”