What if I told you that you had access to a home school’s most valuable resource? Free access – that’s even better! The value of this resource is priceless! What is this fabulous resource? Your local public library! Almost everyone in the US has access to a library. Even most small towns have at least some library access. Are you taking advantage of this great free resource? What can your library do for you?
I must admit I am a huge library fan! When other kids fantasized about being in the movies or being stranded at a theme park, I would dream about living in the library. All those books to read! My mom used to say that all our overdue library fines paid for our library’s new addition. I could wander through the library for hours. What about you?
What do you know about your local library?
Do you know where your library is? Have you ever been there? Have you walked through your library to see what it has to offer? You might be surprised at the options available! Your library is full of items to enhance your homeschool experience.
Do you have a library card? Do your kids have library cards? A library card gives you full access to all the library resources. I always made a big deal about one of our kids getting his own library card. When they could print their full name by themselves in a small space they were ready to get their own library card.
Do you know how to locate books in a library? How to find anything in a library? Most libraries, even small ones, have different sections for adults and children. Some break their children’s sections down even more, including areas for pre-readers and young adults.
Each main section of books (adult and children) is further divided into fiction and non-fiction areas. Fiction sections are arranged alphabetically according to the author’s last name. The Dewey Decimal System sorts non-fiction books into categories. This system organizes books by areas of interest: science, history, literature, business, cooking, etc. (This link will give you an overview of this classification system.)
How can your library help with your homeschooling?
Many libraries have sections of books for parents. These sections often include books for homeschool parents. The larger the library, the more likely it is to have books on homeschooling.
How many of you have used unit studies with lengthy lists of supplemental reading books? The cost of purchasing all those books might seem astronomical! Check your library or library system before ordering those books! Historical fiction, biographies, science, reading – you will be surprised at how many books on your supplemental reading lists you can find in your library.
Have you looked to see what video resources are available through your library? Sure, you can find many movies and TV shows, but don’t forget about National Geographic productions, NOVA presentations, biographical videos, history videos, documentaries, and so on. Maybe you can find everything you need through streaming services or YouTube, but don’t forget to check your library as well. (And the library is free!)
Foreign Language Sections
Do you do a foreign language in your home school? Many foreign language programs are quite expensive. Check and see what your library has to offer. Many library systems have basic language-learning programs through their online offerings. We live in a multicultural metropolitan area, so our library provides books in several languages. I remember checking out Are You My Mother in Spanish once – the kids had a blast with that!
Are you teaching students about writing research papers? Use your library to teach research skills. My youngest son took a dual credit English course this past summer that required writing research papers. Wikipedia and many other online sites were not allowed as source material. The library would have been the ideal place for him to do his research. Of course, this being 2020, the library was closed for pandemic reasons.
Literature and Anthologies
Is your child studying literature this year? Have you looked at the pricing on literature anthologies lately? Crazy! You might find the books you need in your library! Of course, you can’t mark in the books, but you don’t have to pay sky-high prices.
Don’t forget about the nonfiction books in your library. History, science, biographies, poetry – look on the library shelves! Usborne books, DK (Dorling Kindersley) books, and other similar books are often on library shelves – take advantage of them! Art books are another great resource – how to draw books as well as books of great art.
Your Library Has Resources Beyond Books
I know CDs are out-dated; you can find all the music you want from streaming services. But sometimes it is fun to look through CDs and see what you can find. Some libraries also have a collection of printed music. Is your student looking for some different music to sight-read through, or play just for fun? See if your library has anything appropriate.
Another area where I am old-fashioned, or maybe just old, relates to videos. Anyhow, we choose not to pay for cable TV or TV subscription services. And the antennae we have for our TV is not working correctly, so we don’t get much that way either. If you are like us, your library may be a big help in the video world. Many libraries still offer video content – either in DVD or VCR format or through streaming digital content. You might be surprised at what you can find.
Yes, libraries still offer magazines. Usually, you can read current issues in the library and can check out older issues to take home.
Toys and Games
Are your kids bored with their toys and games? Try checking out something different from the library. Are you looking for something different to play during your next board game night? Check out a new game from the library!
Library of Things
Did you know that some libraries allow you to check out cake pans? Or a sewing machine? I just looked through the list of items my local library has for checkout – amazing! From tools to crafts, kitchen items to kits for kids to electronics. I can go to my library and check out cookie cutters, a wood-burning tool, a portable air compressor, a sewing machine, a robot kit, even a Chromebook.
I have come to love e-books. Reading is my “escape” method – and with an e-book, I can have something new to read immediately. No trip to the library is required. Our library has thousands of e-books I can check out and read anytime I like. And the best part? No overdue fines! When the book is due, it just disappears from your device.
Most libraries now belong to groups or systems of libraries. So if you are looking for a particular book and your library does not have it, they may be able to get the book for you from another library in the system. You request the book, the library system transports it to your local library, and you can then check it out and return it to your library. Are you doing a unit study or a history curriculum that uses many supplementary books? Your library system and its interlibrary loan program can save you time and money.
Your librarian may be the best resource your library offers! Get to know your librarians. They are familiar with the library, they have different ways of searching for items, and their training helps you access what you need.
Bonuses are good, right? These features add to the appeal of your library and make your library more user-friendly. Don’t forget about your library’s bonuses!
Many libraries offer 3-week checkout periods. On top of that, you can often renew the materials up to three times. So that gives you 9-12 weeks of usage for a book! In school terms, you can borrow a book from the library for a full quarter of the school year, at least! And now, I discovered, many libraries automatically renew books for you.
Drive-up/Walk-up Return Slots
No longer do you need to make time to go inside the library to return books; most libraries have drive-up or walk-up outside return slots. Some even allow you to reserve books and pick them up at a drive-up window. And because of pandemic issues, many libraries are now offering curbside pickup and drop-off services.
Books and coffee – what can be better than that? Even our smaller local library now offers coffee service. Another library in our area has a full coffee shop inside the library, complete with coffees and baked goods.
Many libraries now offer play areas for kids, so why not meet up with a friend at the library? Also, most libraries provide group meeting areas for small group meetings.
Check out the classes available at your library. You might find a course on crochet or using specific computer programs. Maybe you are interested in a book discussion group. Or a cooking demonstration. What do they have to offer for children? Storytime? Craft time? Game time? See what your library can do for you!
With all that your library has to offer, how can it help you as a home school parent? Books to supplement your curriculum. Video content to add to your instruction. Video courses to assist in your teaching. Toys and games to keep your children busy and entertained. Research materials. Science kits. And don’t forget about the librarians to help make your searching easier. You better check out your library and see what you have been missing!
Looking for more help with homeschooling? You might like these articles: