Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

student resources public library

Author Amber Bell and her kids are big believers in the student support resources offered at public libraries in Seattle and King County. Photos by Cheryl Murfin

How to spell student success? PUBLIC LIBRARIES

16 resources every student should be aware of

Gearing up for back-to-school can cost a family a pretty penny, especially if you have multiple kids. But did you know that the Seattle Public Library (SPL) and the King County Library System (KCLS) offer a wide range of services and resources to support student success? And they cost — drumroll please — absolutely nothing! 

Two award-winning library systems

Access these resources online from home or at any SPL or KCLS branch location. You’d be hard-pressed to find better help for students than the public libraries in King County. SPL has received the highest ranking possible for libraries, the coveted 5-star award, for ten consecutive years. And this year, KCLS was named a finalist for the 2023 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

Your child doesn’t have a library card? No problem. Both library systems have made these resources available to students and teachers using their student or staff ID numbers. 

student resources public library

Accessing SPL student resources is as easy as logging on to the library website.

 Top picks from Seattle Public Library

Here is a countdown of the top ten lesser-known resources the Seattle Public Library provides in support of students and their families: 

1o

If your student has a country report this year, A to Z, the World can provide the research necessary with 175 countries in its database, all with extensive scholarly information to bolster a bibliography.

9

The entire Encyclopedia Britannica and Encyclopedia Britannica for Children online for quick homework access. Britannica includes a world atlas, free live news feeds, and a host of magazine and journal articles.

8

In Context, with separate curated information collections for ElementaryMiddle, and High School, can give your student a complete overview of various subjects from music history to health and science. For each subcategory, a collection of information, including things such as In the News, Quick Facts, and Book Articles, is outlined for your student in an easy-to-navigate format.

7

The New York Times and New York Times Digital have been provided through ProQuest since 1980.

6

If 1980 didn’t impress you, 1851 might. Do you have an assignment on a past event or a biography report? New York Times Historical allows you to see full-text articles and images dating back to the mid-19th century.

5

If your middle or high school student participates in speech and debate this year, Opposing Viewpoints in Context is a resource they may love. The database includes nearly 500 current hot topics and provides a history, main ideas to consider, and differing opinions on each.

4

Black Life in History is an enormous repository of information that allows students to drill down deep into Black history and provides access to news dating back to the Revolutionary War. For kids looking into Seattle and Washington state history specifically, the library has also curated a list of our local history.

3

For additional foreign language assistance and classes, the library provides the popular Mango application without purchasing it yourself. Mango can give your students lessons in 70 languages, including Pirate!

2

Just about every resource imaginable on local history and culture has been collected and neatly organized through the library’s Seattle Culture and Local History page. Resources range from a photographic archive of The Great Fire in 1889 to a history of the Seattle jazz scene.

1

One of SPL’s most essential student resources is access to Tutor.com and daily in-person homework help. Through Tutor.com, your student can receive assistance in a wide variety of subjects from tutors who speak English and Spanish from 2:00 to 10:00 p.m. daily. Vietnamese-speaking tutors are available from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. In addition, eight branch locations provide in-person homework assistance one to three days per week with access to supplies such as graphing calculators and laptops.  

student resources public library

Seattle Public Library and King County Library System both offer in-person homework help and other services along with online student support.

More help from King County Library System

If you are located on the Eastside or in other areas served by the King County Library system, it offers similar or in some cases the same resources, including Britannica Library, Mango languages, In Context: Biography, access to The New York Times, and In Context: Opposing Viewpoints. You’ll find the full list of  KCLS programs on its A to Z Resources page. Here are some of the other awesome student help offerings through the King County Libraries.

  • Brainfuse Free Online Tutoring. As with Tutor.com, students of all ages can get one-on-one, real-time tutoring from 1:00 p.m to 11:00 p.m. daily. Available via chat and audio. Through Brainfuse your student can submit essays for feedback, receive help in various subject areas, and get assistance preparing for the PSAT/SAT, ACT exam, and standardized state testing. 
  • History Study Center. Discover history from ancient times to the current era. Here your student will find articles, primary sources, maps, journals, multimedia, study units, and history guides.
  • Culturegrams. What is life like in other places around the world? Students can get a glimpse through this unique program. Culturegrams connects kids to country and state reports, articles, maps, videos, statistics and data, photographs, biographies, interviews and even recipes. Got a report due on another country? Make this the first stop.
  • Netflix Educational Documentaries. Teachers, kids and parents are invited to screen documentary features and series in a range of topics from art and design to environmental science and politics. 
  • Study Zone Plus. Connect to homework help and resources online through this portal. Students in grades K-12 can work with a tutor or find helpful activities, language assistance and reading support. The zone uses  Zoom or students can dial in online using a computer, tablet or smartphone.
  • Daily Life Through History. Imagine being able to explore the details of daily life around the world from prehistory to today. With this tool, students learn through articles, maps, charts, and primary documents. Teachers use the program to engage students with lesson plans.

More at Seattle’s Child:

The Do-IT Center: A place for neurodiverse learners

Walking for happiness: It works every time

Labeling children with special needs? The pros and cons

About the Author

Amber Bell

Amber Bell has spent the last seventeen years raising and homeschooling three children in Seattle. If she wasn’t a writer, she would most definitely be a librarian, and is currently writing a picture book biography on the first Children’s Librarian of Canada and the British Empire.