Oh! Library, How I’m In Love With Thee!
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach. ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The smell of aged paper and dust, the stacks of books, the quite atmosphere that tells me people are learning things! Oh, the library! A sweet resource of all things.
I’m in love with my public library and I think my homeschooling experience would have been quite different and a greater challenge without the help of my local library.
In my early homeschooling decision-making days, my public library was there for me. My local branch has always been homeschooling friendly from a homeschooling librarian (at one time) to used homeschooling curriculum sales to all the programs for every age group. And don’t forget the books. I checked out books about how to get started and even found a VHS (yes, this was a while ago) of a intro to homeschooling presentation that answered many of my questions.
The most valuable tool for my family concerning homeschooling has been the simplicity of checking out books. We’ve checked out books to further our understanding of a given topic. Over the years, both of my kids have checked out, looked at, and read every book on dinosaurs, sharks and dogs.
When my son was in kindergarten and first grade, we used a curriculum called “Five in A Row” by Jane Claire Lambert. A friend told me about this unit study style book. The idea is you read one book five times in row and each reading focuses on a different subject: science, math, social studies, art, language arts. Kids love repetition and this program fit the bill.
I bought volume one of the series, essentially the teachers guide, then checked out the story books from the library. Some of the books became family favorites and we have read them even after the lessons were done: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton, Katy and The Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton, and Night of the Moonjellies by Mark Shasha.
From there, we have used the library to add to our homeschooling topics and, of course, as a research tool for assignments the same as public school families and much like my friend and fellow homeschooling mom, Amy, does.
“Specifically for homeschooling,” Amy shares, “we have used the copy machine (nothing illegal!), inter-library loan, many non-fiction books and encyclopedias (usually for history topics), several books about homeschooling, as well as fiction books we’re studying. Also, I often check out books to “preview” for our homeschool, to decide if it’s one we’d like to purchase and use in our school. This has been extremely helpful, because some of these books are pricey!”
The local library of today has gone far beyond the stacks of encyclopedias and the strange picture books in the small children’s section of my childhood local library that didn’t peek my interest. We visit the library at least once a week and as much as four times a week.
Anna told me, “My favorite thing about the library is that we can go there as a family, and there is something of interest there for everyone.”
My friends share my love affair with the library and most go once a week or every two weeks – it’s become part of our culture. Talking to my mom, who lives in California, this week I was surprised to learn that she doesn’t use her library. I was honestly taken aback. Certainly, I don’t know the level of services offered by her library but I was surprised that she hadn’t investigated.
Our library is a huge part of our life so it’s hard for me to imagine not using the services. Mandi says, “We like the library because it opens up many new worlds for us for free that we wouldn’t other wise experience.”
In case you haven’t investigated, here’s a sampling of what you can do at the local library, based on our experience in the Arapahoe County Library System.
Books – The first resource you think of with a library. Today, I can search for books online and put them on-hold. The library will email me when the book is ready for pick-up. This is truly a blessing for moms with young kids who may not have the luxury of browsing the stacks. Books can be ordered in old-school paper style, on CD, and now as an electronic download to your computer or handy e-reader that Santa may leave under your tree. Read a biography, learn to cook, learn to knit, get sewing patterns, resume helpers, indulge in fiction, grow with non-fiction. If I’m in a bookstore, I will often jot down titles to order from the library. When we find that we have fallen in love with a book, we’ll buy it.
CDs – Pop, classical, rock, punk, new age – it’s all there on CD at the library. You might be surprised at the diversity of music available. My daughter has checked out Selena Gomez albums, my son goes for Moby, my husband loves the punk and classic rock. We’ve previewed bands and ended up buying the CD later.
DVDs – One of my favorite features of the library is the massive DVD collection. We discovered this feature years ago when cutting expenses after my son was born. We put our names on the hold list and when it’s ready, we pick up the DVD. No cost, no expense, no fuss. I don’t think I could go back to paying for movies again.
Magazines – I’m a magazine junkie and would not realistically be able to justify a subscription to every title I like – and I probably wouldn’t have the time to read them all. At the library, I can pick up an issue of the top magazines when I do have the time and something strikes my fancy.
Programs – I have been consistently impressed with the diversity and creativity of the programs offered in my library system. My kids attended storytime in their younger years and not have moved up to the monthly gaming day and presentations geared toward grammar school kids. My daughter just attended a dinosaur show presented by a paleontologist. My son just found a writing program for teens called Bottom of the Inkwell. Once a month, kids meet to share their writing projects and to provide a critique of each others work. Three teens have completed an entire book through the program. Amazing!
Staff – The staff at our local library has been amazing over the years. In the children’s section, both of my kids are completely comfortable asking for help looking up books and will even ask for suggestions when they are on the hunt for a new book to read.
The best part of the library has to be that it’s free! You can check out everything for one low price of free. Cathy loves “the “ideals” of the Library. Community, free information, reusing, owning less, etc.”
Lori shared that she loves “being surrounded by all those stories, all that humanity, both in person and on paper (or in pixels).”
Loelle says, “I love that the library is part of my community.”