PREFACE/ENCOURAGEMENT/PONTIFICATION: Public Libraries are about the only government institution that is unanimously liked and used. Here’s a good article to help you appreciate your library and those who work there: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/03/13/so-you-want-my-job-librarian/
The public library is a GREAT place! We are blessed to live close to one. We’ve been going there for almost 15 years, so we’ve developed a relationship, and it’s fun. You can easily get books, movies, periodicals (hey, you’ve already paid for them with your taxes), and perhaps many other things, and then just take them back. One of my favorite things to do is to check out a whole bunch of books on a topic, peruse them (no need to read it all), get lots of information on a subject, and then send them all back. What a great deal! Yes, it’s a little bit of a hassle, but then there’s no need for 1) lots of money out-of-pocket (leading to buyer’s remorse), 2) persistent storage on my shelves, and 3) getting stuck with the myopic opinions of only the authors that I could afford if I had to buy the books.
A few things about it:
1. You may not have a library in your town, or perhaps not a good one. Do what you can. While out-of-town patrons typically have to pay some kind of fee, it may be worth it. Paying $25 or so for access to resources may be better than having to pay $200 to purchase those resources. Remember liberty? Part of liberty is that you are responsible, and that others aren’t required to give things to you. If you don’t have a library, please take to heart that it’s not a strike against you. It just means that it’s not required for you in your homeschooling. You may want it, but may not need it.
2. Not all libraries are places to check things out. You may have one of the newer types of libraries where there are just computers there, for the purpose of getting online and reading on-screen. I’ve heard of them, but have never been to one. Kind of a new thing, and many librarians wonder about the efficacy of the design – but take what you can get! 🙂
3. Our library is not great at promoting – we actually have to be there to hear an announcement, so we often miss things. But that’s OK – we do what we can. If your library is like this, then getting to know the staff comes in handy because they’ll start mentioning upcoming events when you come in. ALWAYS be nice to the library staff – they’re (generally) hard-working and knowledgeable people who really love to help people.
4. Your library may have online access to study resources, homework assistance, etc. Check it out – you may be pleasantly surprised. It could also have resources for downloading (e.g., audio books), which can come in really handy.
5. If you check out things like math books – anything that your kids will actually possible mark in – then just give them the task of writing things on paper, not in the books themselves. This helps both ingrain the lessons better and teaches them responsibility and stewardship.
6. Be prepared to spend a little for replacing materials. We haven’t had to do that in all these years (well, maybe once), but it can happen, so keep that mindset.