Your Local Library: The Frugal Homeschool Mom’s Best Friend

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Your Local Library: The Frugal Homeschool Mom’s Best Friend

(from Homeschool Basics)

Regardless of whether you pick traditional curriculum or take a non-curriculum approach (Kristi describes in the book) your local library is going to be your new BFF (Best Friend Forever!)You’ll be amazed at just how many free resources you have available to you at the library.

What do you think of when you hear the phrase, “free library resources?” Just books and DVDs? Today’s libraries offer so much more. With an internet-connected computer and a valid library card, thousands of free resources are available to you.

Interlibrary Loan System: Most libraries are connected with an interlibrary loan system, and you are able to check out books from libraries all over the country. Ask your branch about their system. Most of the time you can request books online and they’ll find them for you and have them ready for you to pick up when you get there. It’s such a time saver.

Online Databases: Libraries have a wealth of online resources (databases and e-sources) on their websites for students. What’s great about these? They’re “referred” sources — true, authoritative sources far better than Google. Search your library’s website for “e-sources” or homework resources.

Field and/or Resource Trips: Plan a field trip to the library with your kids or a group of friends. The children’s or youth services librarian will be happy to make your list so much more than just a tour of the library. One of the things the librarian can do is show your group how to use the online resources available to them. If you’re working on a specific unit study or project, she can also gather materials for you and/or help you and the children find materials.

Book Clubs for Children: Many libraries have book clubs for children. I was told by my librarian friend who hosts a weekly children’s book group at her library that most of the attendees of her club are homeschooled families. Check with your local library to see if they have any book clubs, and find out how often they meet. You can even find out what books they are going to be discussing ahead of time.

Book Club Kits: Some libraries offer book club kits for children. Most kits consist of twelve to fifteen copies of a title with discussion questions if you’d like to do your own book club with other families.

Programs: Most libraries have monthly school-age programs at the library during the school year. And don’t forget the summer reading program! Many libraries have special classes or programs. Look at our local library’s schedule. These are some of the things they offer at my library: Family Movie Night, Knitting Circle, Theatre Camp, Writer’s Workshop, Snack Attack (Cooking), Finger Knitting, Lego Block Parties, Puppet Shows, and Storytime. I bet you never realized how much fun your library could be.

Training Programs: Some libraries will schedule computer classes for your children if you ask. There are usually a wide variety of classes available.

Booklists: Libraries have a variety of booklists of suggested titles for different age groups and on many subjects. This is really handy when you are looking fora particular genre of books to use in your homeschool.

Homework Help: Many libraries provide a link to “Homework Help” on their website. Some libraries give you access to websites like for free!

Lesson Plans: Our local library system provides Arkansas history lesson plans. Some libraries also provide curricula support. Libraries can develop customized booklists, webliographies, and study guides tailored to the unique needs of students. Even if these services aren’t available on your library’s website, ask a local librarian if he or she can offer this service.

Art Galleries: One of our local libraries hosts an art gallery for students.

Museum Passes: In a partnership with local museums, many libraries provide free passes to local art, history, and children’s museums. Warning: these are very popular and are often checked out. Check with your local library to see what’s available.

Computers: In addition to public computers and wireless access, some libraries have laptop checkouts. (Check the restrictions.)

Dial-a-Story: Our local library has a dial-a-story program. Every day the kids can call a special number and listen to a new story!

Free Media: Many libraries have a virtual branch where you can download audiobooks to your PC or Mac. You can then transfer this media to your iPad, Nook, or other devices. Our branch also has a virtual reference library with a digital movie catalog, digital music catalog, and digital magazine library. My library uses Hoopla for the digital access, and once I login via my library, it works like a Netflix account. There’s an app called Overdrive that also allows you to borrow electronic resources from the library.

Books by Mail: Some libraries mail books to patrons free of charge. In some cases, you must have a disability to qualify for these services, but that’s not always the case.

Did you know your library could offer all these amazing resources? Believe it or not, some loan out even more than books, like puzzles, museum passes, and toys. You can probably see why your local library cold quickly become one of your new best friends.

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