The primary mission of ASDE is to make Self-Directed Education possible for everyone, regardless of family background or income. One route toward achieving this mission is to work with libraries to help them expand their services. This may be the most efficient means to promote public funding of Self-Directed Education, while at the same time supporting programs that are valuable to the whole community.
Every community has a publicly supported library, open and welcoming to everyone free of charge. As books and other reading material have become increasingly available online, libraries everywhere are looking to expand their services. Many have created maker spaces, some are sponsoring free play during specific days and hours at the library. Many are offering a host of other community services, and some have already made strides toward being full community centers, where people, including children, are welcome to socialize and engage in activities of their own choosing.
By working with libraries, the Alliance has the opportunity to ally our special concern for Self-Directed Education with pre-existing interests of the larger community. Maker spaces, free play opportunities, book clubs, free sharing of knowledge and ideas, and community are of interest to people of all ages and regardless of their views of or participation in conventional schooling.
Homeschoolers, including unschoolers, are already heavy users of libraries, often well known to and appreciated by the library staff.
For more about libraries as centers for SDE, see Peter Gray’s Psychology Today essay on the topic.
Ways you can support this initiative
You can hold local SDE group meetings at your local library. The Library Initiative is the effort, on the part of ASDE, to encourage and facilitate the movement for libraries to become full learning, play, and community centers. Holding meetings at libraries will help you to get to know the library staff, and to work with the library to help them achieve mutual goals.
You can offer your thoughts about ways of pursuing the library initiative, on the forum thread devoted to this topic.
You can work with your local library on their programming. One example of a library that has already made great strides in the direction we are encouraging is the Laura Bush Westbank Library in Austin, Texas. For two essays about what they have done, written by Henry Stokes of the Texas State Library, see here and here.
You can make a donation, or help us seek major donations in order to develop a program of seed grants to help libraries develop plans for expanding their services. If you know of possible donors, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.