Don’t let anyone tell you differently: libraries are amazing resources for the homeschooler! Just because the current trend of ebooks and Internet research is growing doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to be found at your local library, particularly if you are trying to homeschool on a small budget (or homeschooling for free!)
Telling you that the library is a source for free books is a little silly as I would guess you already know that. So that doesn’t need discussing. But there is actually more than that at your local library that you may not have realized. Now that’s worth talking about.
Note: I’m basing most of this on my own experiences at the library and the services I’m familiar with may or may not be available where you are.
Games and Toys
The kids section at our library has a whole shelf of board games, though I’m not sure you can take them out on loan. Even if you have to play there, it can be a great way to test out games you don’t own before buying or just to change up the environment a little with your kids for some low-tech fun.
Not only can you rent movies, but there are often great educational documentaries or episodes of TV shows available too. The loan periods aren’t always the same as with library books, so double check when you take them out.
Maybe everyone knows about this. I sure didn’t, and I wish I had learned sooner. See if your library is part of any “Inter-Library Loan” system if you are having trouble getting the books you want. Other libraries in the network will courier the books you request to your local branch, no charge. It’s really helpful if you are in a small town or rural area with very small libraries to work with.
Ok, I’m going to assume you have a computer at home making this a little less helpful than the other tips. Even so, you can still benefit from this service at the library. Check on your email while you’re out, let your kids play games they don’t have at home, or even get access to educational networks that you might not have otherwise (many libraries have subscriptions to services, letting you access them for free).
Visiting the library during the day can lead to unexpected meetings with other homeschooling families. Even if you don’t literally bump into them, a librarian will notice people with kids who comes in during school hours. They might be able to help you hook up with others. Libraries also make great (free) venues for casual homeschool meetings or even co-op classes.
Most libraries now (even our little local rural one) offer online account services to make your life easier. Place orders for inter-library loan books, hold books, or even renew books all from your online account. Streamlines your library needs and hopefully will keep you from getting stuck with late fees. I get an email 2 days before a book is due, and I love it.
So try to fit a little library time into your homeschooling schedule and take advantage of a great community resource.