Monday, February 20, 2012

Ode to My Library

Every week - sometimes multiple times during a week - I say (or think) the following:  "I love our library system."  I really do believe we have one of The. Best. anywhere.  I'm not good at writing songs or poetry, but if I could I would write a sonnet explaining why I believe the library is one of the best things ever for homeschooling on a budget.  (You know you're a homeschooler when your kids memorize your library card's barcode before their own address!)

I've heard it said that it's possible to homeschool successfully with a Bible and a library card.  I'm not sure I'd be good at it without purchasing any curriculum at all, but making use of the library gives us access to amazing resources at no cost.  Some resources that I couldn't afford even if I wanted to own them.  Some resources that I want to preview before deciding to purchase.  And most often, we use the library to get our hands on books and CDs and DVDs that we only need for one research project or unit.  I love that our library carries a lot of television on DVD sets, for shows like MythBusters and Cities of the Underworld, and educational DVD series like The Science of Disney Imagineering and the many offerings of Schlessinger Media.  When we study ancient Rome or medieval Scotland or WWII Berlin and then can watch a Cities of the Underworld episode that takes us to those locations, it really makes it come to life.  And is so much cheaper than travelling there on a field trip!

One of the greatest things about our library system is being able to access so much of it online.  We don't live in town, so getting to the library isn't something we want to do every day.  Usually a library visit is something that happens - quickly - on our way to or from something else.  But I'm able to browse the library catalog online, and request the books I'm interested in to be sent to my local branch and then I can pick them up from the hold shelf when it's convenient.  It makes stopping at the library really quick.  I have my library account set up so that the system emails me a reminder that books are coming due on the next business day, and I can renew things online.  (The reminder emails alone have saved me BIG BUCKS in fines!  That said, I rarely complain about paying fines when I deserve them, because the library saves me money in so many other ways.) 

There's also an account feature that lets me put books on my own custom "reading lists" so when I come across a title that I don't want now, but I'm sure will be useful in a couple of months when we study Gershwin in music, I put it on my list so I can request it then.  I can also keep track of books already read, books in a series, my own personal to-read list, etc this way.

Sometimes I hear from friends in other parts of the country that their library staff seem resistant to having homeschoolers in the library.  Thankfully, we have never had that problem.  Our library system is very helpful to homeschoolers, in my experience.  Homeschooling parents can even get an educator's library card.  I've never bothered because I think the regular library card account is so fantastic!

We don't make much use of it now that my kids are getting older, but a couple of the library branches in our county offer occasional homeschooler's science programs.  A hands-on science class that takes place during the day, and is specifically for homeschool kids.  They have even contacted some of the homeschool groups for our input on what we'd like to see in those programs and how they could make it more useful to us.   We've made use of some of their kids programs that are not specifically for homeschoolers too.  Kennady has especially liked the junior gardeners program.

Don't overlook what the library might have to offer when trying to homeschool on a budget!

It's the obvious choice for free homeschooling resources!

What are your favorites for free or cheap homeschool resources?  Leave a comment and let me know, and visit the TOS Crew Blog Cruise (February 2012 edition) to get ideas from other homeschoolers.

This post has been added to the Homeschool for Free Round-up on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog. Visit this NEW round-up to get even more ideas from other homeschool bloggers!
Homeschool for Free


Debra said...

We're on the same page here... I gushed about my library too. :)

Mary said...

I love the library too! I know that between the library, resources we already own, and free sources on the internet I could teach the kids. If only I had the TIME to put it all together. :/

Raspberry Leaf said...

I too LOVE my library. I never complain about the portion of my property taxes that funds the library. I use EVERY pen of that and then some. I had nearly 80 books checked out yesterday... returned about 30 and brought home 2 more huge bags full again. (I do have 4 kids to supply with books)!

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