Homework Help and Hints


You can't do your homework if you don't understand it! After you copy your assignment (or get a homework sheet), read it carefully. If you are unsure about your homework, ask your teacher to explain it to you.


Gather up everything that you'll need to do homework, like your notes, paper, and pens.


If you need to go to the library to do your homework, remember, bring your library card with you.

  • Sign up early to use the computer.
  • Bring change if you want to make photocopies (Xeroxes). It's not free!
  • Librarians can help you find books and information.
  • The reference section has lots of useful facts and pictures.

More Tips for Completing School Assignments



When you come to the library to do assignments, think ahead and be sure you know what you want and what you need to do.  You may be able to save yourself a trip if you call first. Some of the things you can do by phone:

  • Call your local library and ask if they have the book you need on the shelf. They may be able to put it aside for you to pick up later in the day.
  • If you have a quick question, the Telephone Reference Service may be able to give you information over the phone. Dial 718-990-0714, 718-990-0728, or 718-990-0780.
  • If you have access to a fax machine, some branches can fax a magazine article or other short item to you. Call your local branch to find out if it has a fax machine.
  • Try Dial-a-Teacher, a service of the New York City Department of Education. The Homework Hotline can be reached at 212-777-3380.


  • Bring your own supplies: paper and pen, your text book if you'll need it, change for the copy machine or telephone and YOUR LIBRARY CARD.
  • If you think you may have to use the computer to do research, allow extra time. To be fair to everyone, most libraries limit how much time each person can spend using the public-access computers.


If many students have the same assignment, it may be hard to find books on your topic to take home. You can always work from reference books in the library.  There may not be a whole book about your topic. Find out from your teacher if you can use:

  • A chapter or chapters from one or more books.
  • Reference books like encyclopedias or almanacs.
  • Magazines or pamphlets.
  • The Internet or electronic resources on the Library's site.
  • If you have to read a whole book, can you change the topic to something that is available today?

IF YOU NEED PICTURES FOR YOUR REPORT, bring change to make photocopies. The Internet is another source, but remember they will be printed in black and white.



There are some books that always stay in the Library. These are called reference books. They usually have short articles about a lot of different topics. They can be very useful for doing reports. The reference section of your Library will probably have Almanacs, Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Atlases, and Bibliographies (books that list other books on a topic). Online versions can be found in Fast Facts or with Homework subjects.

  • Almanacs have lists of all kinds of information. Who won the Oscars last year? Who was the 23rd President of the United States? What is the population of Vermont? When you want specific quick bits of information, use an Almanac.
  • Encyclopedias usually offer more information on a topic. They are useful for finding out basic information on a topic. They are useful for looking up famous people, the states, science topics like animals or space travel, other countries, and other general information.
  • An Atlas is more than just a book of maps. Some atlases also have information on weather and climate, industries, languages, animal life, etc. Some include pictures of flags, state birds and flowers, or articles on how the people live in different regions. Most include a special index called a "gazetteer" that will help you find specific places on the maps. There are also historical atlases that show you the boundaries of countries at different times.
  • Dictionaries also have more information than you think they do. Not only do dictionaries list words and their meanings, but they tell you how to spell, pronounce, and change the word to alter its meaning. Many dictionaries also have chapters on grammar, lists of words in other languages, place-name lists, or how to use special forms of address.  If you want to know how to address a letter to your Senator or representative in Congress, or what to call the Pope when you meet him, look in the dictionary!
  • Other reference books that might be useful include Biographical Dictionaries, which have very short articles about famous people; Thesauri, which give you alternate words that mean the same thing; Book of Quotations if you need to know who said something special; and, if you need to translate a work to another language, look for English -- Other Language Dictionaries.

Remember that sometimes the best resource in the library are the librarians.  Ask them for help. It's why they're here!

Look for bookmarks, Internet Pathfinders (especially "Homework Helpers"), and other library publications that can help you find other materials. The Library is more than just a homework resource. We have books, videos, magazines, CDs, and cassettes for all ages and interests.