Your local library – probably not the first place you’d think of when you think of homeschool resources or tools. We never visited our local library much before we started homeschooling but over the last couple of years I’ve learned how valuable it really can be. It has saved us tons of time and money when it comes to our homeschooling planning and supplies. I wanted to share with you 6 ways to maximize your library card and how to use your local library to enhance your homeschool.
Use the online system to place holds
This one little golden nugget of knowledge has saved me SO MUCH TIME. I didn’t realize how easy it was to use our library’s website to place holds on books. This saves so much time since I can pull up our lesson plans, locate the additional readers and books we will need and then place holds on them so I know they will be available when we need them.
We are even able to locate books within our library’s network that might not be available at our local library. Then, we can request these books and they transfer them to our library so we can place a hold/check them out. This is especially helpful if you belong to a library that has a large network or a state with a lot of libraries.
Keep a dedicated library bag
Have you ever lost a library book? Nope, me either….. Just kidding. We once lost 5 library books. To this day I still haven’t located them and I still feel completely awful about it. Not to mention, library books are not cheap and when you have to pay to replace them it hurts the wallet. We learned our lesson quickly when we paid that bill and I implemented a “library bag”.
We now have a dedicated bag that we take to the library to pick up our books and it’s where we house all library books while they are at our house. If we are actively using or reading a book then of course it’s out of the bag but they immediately get returned to the bag so we know where they are at any given time. This makes it super easy to return our books – I just grab the bag on the way out the door. We even attached our library card by key ring to the outside so we always have it with us.
Be sure to also subscribe and download our free reading printables so you can print and use our library book log! This helps keep track of your library books and their due dates.
Utilize the kindle or e-book feature
Our most used resource at our library is the e-book privileges that come with our library card. We can log onto our library’s website and download e-books directly to the Kindle or our iPads. This is extremely helpful when we come across a book or reader that we weren’t aware of or didn’t grab on our last trip.
This also allows me to download e-books to the girls’ Kindles and have them waiting for them. When we have some downtime or have to take a long ride in the car we always have our Kindles handy so they can hop on and open a book that I’ve loaded for them.
We have a Kindle Paperwhite and a Kindle Kids Edition. Both work perfectly for use in our homeschooling. I can add our library books as needed plus we also have Amazon Freetime which has thousands of books available for the girls to download.
Free or low cost meeting space
Most libraries have meeting rooms or meeting space that they offer for free or a small rental fee to the community. This is extremely helpful when you are meeting up with other homeschool families or co-op members and want to have a central location to meet.
We have met at our local library with the local homeschool group for crochet classes, art classes, and play groups.
I’ve also chatted with some homeschool moms who have rented space at the library so they can take a day to plan their homeschool year, distraction-free! (Not a bad idea if you ask me!)
Kid and adult programs
The summer reading program was always one of my favorite summer activities as a child. Now, my girls get to enjoy a similar program that rewards them for reading throughout the summer, gives them scavenger hunts and activities to work on and gives us another reason to visit the library!
Our library offers quite a few kid and adult programs and classes for free. They range from the summer reading program for the kids to book club for the adults. There are also crochet classes, family tree research groups, chess club and story hour programs. Each library varies and it’s always worth checking out libraries that might be just outside your area to see what other interesting programs they may offer.
Test out curriculum
Although our local libraries offer very slim pickings in the curriculum area, some libraries carry many publishers and curriculum packages. This is a great way to “try out” a program before committing to purchasing. Some libraries also offer long term rental so you can rent your curriculum for a semester if needed.
There are lots of other ways to use your library card but these 6 have been the most beneficially to our homeschool planning and experience. We went from visiting the library maybe once per year to visiting or picking up a few times each month. It’s really been a hidden gem for us and I hope you’ll check into the ways you can take advantage of your library card too!
Find your local library
If you are in the US, you can search for your local libraries here. Remember, some library systems offer library card reciprocity, so be sure to ask what other benefits or perks come with your library card!