Last Saturday, about a dozen homeschool parents (and a couple of kids) met at the MB Education Resource Library for an orientation and tour of the facility. Many more would have liked to join us but weren’t able to. Those of us who were present left feeling inspired, some of us kicking ourselves for not having connected with this great resource earlier in our homeschooling journey. Here’s my top ten of what everyone needs to know about the library:
- It’s big. I somehow pictured it as a small basement room at the back of a windowless office building. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s not what I expected. It’s quite inviting, actually. It would be similar in size to any branch of the Winnipeg Public Library system, other than the Millenium, of course.
- Children are welcome. One mom had been avoiding a visit because she thought it would entail getting childcare and coming alone. Nope. Bring your kids, from toddlers to teens. There’s something for everyone – even a tiny tot play area. During school hours, the facility is not super busy. There are numerous computer stations, sitting areas and tables with chairs so you can read and work on site.
- You can get a membership card and sign out the resources at no cost. Any homeschooling family that has notified the province and received an id number can sign up and receive a library card to use immediately. Just head down for a visit and starting checking out the resources.
- It’s not just books. Books are wonderful of course, and there are plenty of them, but what make this library unique is the range of resources available: CDs, DVDs, games, kits, models, puppets, posters, etc. On our first visit we checked out a number of Dr. Noggins fact card games and another game about fractions. I saw one family leaving with a huge electricity set. From math manipulatives to collections of insects preserved in resin, this library has something to appeal to every interest and educational goal.
- Your 6 year old wants to learn more about the rainforest? Your 10 year old needs info on catapults? Their staff will help you find what you exactly what you need. They will prepare a package of resources for you according to your specific needs; you simply need to call or email your request. Just let them know the subject matter you want to learn more about and the ages of the children involved, and they will put together a package of learning resources specially picked for you. Wow! If you live in Winnipeg, you just need to drop by and pick up your package when it’s ready. Sounds like Christmas all year round!
- You live outside of Winnipeg? Have no fear! Library staff will mail your package out to you, AT NO COST. And you can mail it back AT NO COST! What?! Just submit your request as described in #5 and you can access the library from wherever you are located in the province. Wow again.
- Many of the library’s resources are online. Highlights of the many digital resources include three collections of eBooks, many audiobooks, access to CBC’s Curio (CBC TV and radio programs and News in Review 1990-2015), a link to the NFB’s extensive film collection, Canada: A People’s History, and other streaming videos sites. Just register for your online account to get a username and password.
- Copies of MB’s distance education curriculum for grades 9-12 are available as reference material at the library. If you’re considering using this independent study curriculum with your teen but want to check it out before committing, you’re welcome to drop by the library and review it on site.
- Interested in knowing what’s being covered in the MB school curriculum for each grade level and subject? All the info you need is available at the library; just ask a staff person to point you in the right direction. The My Child in School website is another good resource for understanding what children are learning at each grade level in the public school system.
- And now, for the most frequently asked question: IS THERE PARKING? There is free one hour parking on streets right around the library and there is a paid parking lot right next door. There’s also great bus service on Portage and poles to lock your bikes to!
The Manitoba Education Resource Library awaits your visit:
Main Floor, 1181 Portage Avenue
Monday to Friday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday : 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Thanks to Lisa Wilcox for the images.