Saturday, September 3, 2011

Library=Homeschoolers Best Tool

I have talked before about how much I love Library Day. Our family really enjoys the library for leisure and for fun. Public Libraries are filled with lots of great books and fun activities for both children and adults. Our family also loves "library hopping" and going to other libraries in and around our community. We sometimes spend Sunday afternoon at the library in the fall and winter and switch up each Sunday by going to a different one. We have about 80 libraries in our system, we frequent about 10 of those very often.  FREE family fun and my boys love the library and reading!

Well, the post isn't about the "leisure" benefits of a library but the benefits for Homeschoolers. Libraries are truly a money saver for Homeschoolers and many libraries across the country have a Homeschool Resource Area.I love the fact that I can borrow books for FREE and not spend a bunch of money on homeschooling. Libraries don't "shun" Homeschoolers, they are actually very Homeschooling Friendly. I have never done it, but I have heard of families strictly use the library for all the "curriculum" needs! I do believe that a family can homeschool with just a library card if they choose!

Some tips for using the Library for Homeschooling: 
1) Learn the policies and procedures of your library and library system. (fines, check out policy, how long, inter-library loan policy, etc.)
2) Make sure your card is updated.
3) Get to know your librarians and let them assist you if needed.
4) Ask if your library allows Homeschoolers the teacher loan period. Many libraries allow teachers a longer check out time.
5) Make a library book list and do your "research' and plan ahead. Try to request the books you need 2-3 weeks before you actually need the books, if they are not at your local branch. If you live in a area that has lots of Homeschoolers, you may need to have a certain book "on hold" for awhile if someone else already has it checked out.
6) Ask your library if they have any Homeschool activities or events. Some libraries do have events during the day once a month or weekly.
7) Check to see if your library has other resources that your library card can be used for. Our library card allows us access to Encyclopedia Britannica and World Book Encyclopedia right from the comfort of our own home and many other "research" databases.

I live in a huge Metro area, so I do have a ton of libraries available to use. I live in a suburb of Chicago, so my local library is connected with 80 other libraries. I also have a Chicago Public Library card and the Chicago Public Library has about 75 branches. I know other areas of the country aren't as lucky to have so many libraries available, but you can still utilize your library for homeschooling.

I have taught Joshua, who is 9, to use the online search catalog, search the shelves at the library for his books from the list he created, I have explained the Dewey Decimal System to him and how to properly use the library. I will teach the other 2 boys very soon here. I also explained to Joshua how much different using the library was when I was his age. I told him about the Card Catalog system and all. I think he was most intrigued by the fact that libraries were very packed most days after school because kids were going to library to do homework and use the Encyclopedia's as we did not have internet when I was in school. The boys can't believe that the internet wasn't widely used until around '95. I firmly believe in using the library not just for "fun" but for learning also!

For Chicago Area Homeschoolers, here are some great resources and info just for you:

Did you know that you can have both a Chicago Public Library Card and a Suburban Library Card, no matter if you live in the city or a suburb?? I found this out a few years ago when we were living in the City and now have moved to the suburbs.

If you are a Chicago resident and want to get a Suburban Library Card here is info from one of the libraries in our system: Getting a SWAN System Library Card. (Suburban Cook County) This card would be valid at the Libraries listed here: SWAN Library System Libraries.

If you are a Suburban Resident and want to get a Chicago Public Library Card here is the info on how to do that: Getting a Chicago Public Library Card.

A card holder of either a Cook County suburban library card or a Chicago Public Library has access to many resources online, including researching books needed/wanted from their online catalog and reserving and holding books via the online system.

I have also recently learned that I can use my card at the Library Branches in DuPage County Library System, which for me is the next county over and the county that my husband works in. Also, anyone with a Cook County library card can use their card at any of the libraries listed here: RAILS System Libraries.

An awesome, although not so well known, resource for IL Homeschoolers is the Johnsburg Public Library Homeschool Resource Center ( The Johnsburg Library has over 10,000 Homeschool books and Curriculum guides. You can do an inter-library loan using any IL library card. You have to visit your local library branch and have them do an inter-library loan for you. I like that they have so many different books and curriculum. You can "try it before you buy it" type of thing.

I have also just recently learned that the Joliet Public Library is very Homeschool Friendly. Homeschool Info  for Joliet Public Library. I have been to the Joliet Public Library years ago and it is a big and beautiful building. The Joliet Public Library, Main Branch, is located in Downtown Joliet. I can't wait to take the boys there for a "field trip".

I also found a superb "collection" at the Harold Washington Library in Downtown Chicago recently. My boys and I were there just for fun over the summer and we just happened to come upon a room that had a security guard on watch outside of it. The room contains an entire collection of Civil War artifacts and materials. Harold Washington Library Special Collections. So check your local libraries for any special collections. The Harold Washington Library is also another great "field trip" type of library. It is 9 floors of books and collections and is absolutely amazing!

I hope all this info is useful to someone! I know I would rather "borrow" then "buy" books and I am very grateful to the Public Library System in our homeschool journey! A library is much more then a building is a "world of learning and knowledge"!

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Hen Jen said... Best Blogger Tips

great post on the library! We love our local libraries, when deep into our homeschool studies, we often use more than one library to find the books we need. One of our libraries has a better selection of audio books, the other a better dvd collection- so we hop around a bit :)

visiting from the HHH! So nice to meet you!

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