In our first post on the topic of public library homework help, we provided an overview of why we think it’s important to spend time talking about what many teen librarians take for granted: homework help. Because this service is often assumed to be a requirement of high-quality service, librarians serving young adults do not often take the time needed to evaluate homework services and consider whether they are as valuable and worthwhile as expected. In this second post on the topic, we talk about homework help services that can work and how public librarians can start to re-think how they provide homework help.
Let’s start with the idea that many public libraries assume they have to provide a full array of materials to teens that support homework needs. These might be physical library materials that are on fiction and non-fiction shelves or web-based materials that live as links on library website homework pages. What if we said instead that the first requirement of successful homework support should be to focus on space for teens to use resources (maybe resources from the public library and maybe resources from the school library or some other location) and collaborate, which includes giving them the opportunity to: