You probably already know that I’m a big book buyer. I can’t help myself, nor do I wish too. But did you know that I’m also a regular book borrower?
We have a pretty good library system in our city and, for the past thirteen years, we’ve been weekly visitors, without fail. Okay, so our library rarely has the quality books I seek out as the core of our studies, but, in its defense, it has plenty of other books and resources that can act as enrichment.
We’ve made visiting the library a regular routine. There is a library branch conveniently located very close to where we do our grocery shopping, so we visit the library weekly on grocery shopping day. Having this routine means we don’t have to remember to make time to visit the library. It’s an expected part of the weekly routine and my boys have grown up knowing exactly when they would be next visiting the library.
Having a set day for visiting the library, avoids a lot of ‘due date’ hassles. Since we borrow on the same day each week, our books are always due back on that same day. On our errand day, I just check our loans on the online catalogue to see which books need to be placed in our return bag. Since we are allowed to extend our loan period one time, I do all my extending at this time too. I’ve made this a routine so I know that, first thing on errand day, I need to log into the library and process our returns for the day. When it’s a habit, it’s hardly a chore.
I use the library’s online catalogue a LOT! We are very lucky to have absolutely no fees or fines in our library system (aside from losing or damaging a book, which is almost criminal in my eyes!). This means that we are able to place holds on all the books we wish to borrow, as well as have them moved to our preferred branch, ready for pick up, completely free of charge. It’s such a blessing when you can walk into the library and find all of the books you wish to borrow, sitting on one shelf, just waiting for you. It makes library borrowing a breeze and a pleasure. Not everyone has this luxury but it pays to find out what privileges your library will extend to you. You may find that there are exceptions for educators, and that might include homeschoolers. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
When we are studying a topic, I jump onto the online catalogue and borrow a stack of books. Over the years I’ve learned how to get the most out of my library searches so that I can find a treasure trove of useful resources. When I search, I don’t just use one search word. I try a variety of related options eg. Antarctica, polar regions, south pole, poles, Shackleton, auroras etc. I’ve also learned how to best use the catalogue to refine my search to the specific type of resource that I am after eg non-fiction, dvd, audio. When I find a book on my topic, I check the links our catalogue provides, which allow me to search for related books. Occasionally I’ll hunt for titles of specific books but I’ve found this the most disappointing way to search.
I’ve also taught my children how to search for books they are interested in. To increase their skills, and chances of finding books they are interested in, I sit with them as they search, giving suggestions about how to best search the catalogue. Typing in one search word often doesn’t reveal as much as your library has to offer, and usually this is how children attempt to use the catalogue. They really do need to be mentored in this skill.
Using the online library to put books on hold isn’t as time consuming as it might sound. I don’t have a routine for it but rather jump online as topics of interest occur to us. It takes no longer than checking Facebook messages (if you are Facebook fan, which I’m not). Plus, doing all the legwork online saves us a lot of time at the library. Sometimes we like to stop and browse the aisles of the library (if we’ve arrived before the library has turned into the local after school care centre), but other times we just want to borrow our books and leave. Doing the majority of our borrowing online, allows us the time to browse if we choose.
The library can save homeschoolers a lot of money. We don’t have to purchase every single resource we want to use. There are many books that we will only ever want to read once or that just aren’t special enough to earn a space on our shelves. I’ve also used our library to preview books that I might want to purchase. My family particularly loves borrowing documentaries (we’ve stopped watching pretty much all free-to-air tv). We only watch documentaries once so it doesn’t make financial sense to purchase our own copies. My eldest saves me a small fortune by borrowing computer books from the library. These books are truly expensive and are updated so frequently that they are quickly out of date if you did choose to purchase them. I love saving money at the library because, you see, it means that I can then spend money on the great books I can’t live without owning.
When we get our library resources home, we place them on our library shelf. We used to have a large tub for library books, but books and dvds look so much more appealing on a shelf, if you can find the space. Once a book has been read or a dvd watched, we return it straight to our library borrowing bag, ready to be returned. Rarely (if ever) do we have issues with lost books. Yes, even in this house full of books. We’ve actually found that ‘lost’ books occur at the library’s end rather than our house. Several times we’ve had messages from the library informing us that books we’ve borrowed haven’t been returned. Knowing they have, I just head to the library and find the ‘lost’ book on their shelves for them (yes, every time!), and resolve the issue. It’s a pain but I put it down to
their lack of diligence the large volume of books we borrow increasing our chances of encountering a hiccup.
As homeschoolers, the library truly is our friend. Yes, there is the potential to rack up a lot of fines if you aren’t careful (and your library yokes you with hefty charges), but where else can we go to find bags full of resources for our family, that have the potential to be free.
So grab your library bags and start filling them with gems!
Check out the ‘gem’ we found last week!
Sorry. You’ll have to borrow it yourself to find out the answer.