How to use the library to complete assignments

Tips to make the most of the experience

¯Don’t wait until the last minute to visit the library for the materials/information needed to complete an assignment.

All too often, children forget to tell parents about assignments until the day before they are due. Quickly, you run to the library only to become frustrated because others have checked out all the materials related to the assignment. This leads to frustration and even tears while we try to help find information to complete the task. This is not a good experience for either you or our library staff. We just can’t always magically produce what you need so plan ahead and visit the library as soon as you know about the assignment.

¯Make sure your library card is valid.

Library cards expire every three years and must be renewed. If you have overdue materials or late fees, your card may be blocked and therefore can’t be used until the fines and fees are paid. Call the library and we can check to be sure your card is valid and ready to use. Children are encouraged to get their own library card at the age of 5, the caregiver in the household must also have a valid library card.

¯Your child should come to the library to look for materials related to the assignment.

This is not YOUR homework, it is your child’s responsibility. You are not ‘helping’ the learning process when you do the research/information gathering needed to complete the assignment. We all have busy lives and students must learn to manage their time to meet assignment deadlines.

¯If the teacher provides written guidelines for the assignment bring the instructions with you.

Children don’t always remember all the directions the teacher has provided which can complicate the research process. For example, teachers might provide instructions that include, “Encyclopedias may be used as background information.” The student translates that to, “We can’t use encyclopedias.” We can help the child understand they are able to use encyclopedias for the assignment.

¯Talk to your child and have Plan B.

As much as we wish we could, we simply are not able to conjure up materials that we don’t own or that are checked out to other customers. Google and the internet cannot provide all the answers (a concept today’s students find unbelievable); and the information on the internet isn’t always valid or reliable. It’s always good to have a backup plan, just in case.

¯Allocate time to gather the information needed to complete the assignment.

While this harkens back to #1 on this list, it takes time to find, read, organize, write and complete the assignment. It may take awhile to find, retrieve, check out and/or copy articles, pictures, graphs, charts, etc. We just can’t instantaneously produce materials so it’s important that you don’t try to ‘wedge’ your library visit into the 5 minutes after a dance lesson or sports practice and the need to get home to cook a meal. Call the library or check the website at for operating hours.

¯Bring basic supplies – pencils, paper and quarters for the copy machine.

While we do provide scrape paper and little golf pencils to make short notations, students may need to make a series of notes about their topic. Perhaps they will want a picture for the cover of their report that requires making a photocopy. Black and white copies are 25 cents and color copies are 50 cents.

¯PowerLibrary and PowerKids databases are your friends.

With your valid library card you can access PowerLibrary and PowerKids which are databases of databases (like a set of encyclopedias in digital form) that provide the most up-to-date information on thousands of topics. Best of all, you can access these databases from home. This is the way to go, if you are unable to follow #1 on this list.

¯Ask for help

Library staff are here to help. Really, we want to help. Just ask.

¯See number 1 on this list.

Ninety-nine percent of a student’s inability to complete an assignment on time is procrastination. Public library staff will try to help your child with school assignments as best we can with the resources and time available.

Most times the key to a successful assignment is your child’s imagination and creativity. Dr. Seuss said it best:

Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!

The Mifflin County Library Staff wishes you and your child(ren) a great school year!