I recently had a conversation about our public library and our home library that I thought I would share here. The homeschooler that I was talking to made the comment that she really appreciates the public library and especially inter-library loan. If she had to pay to use the inter-library loan, she doesn't know how she would homeschool.
I live 7 miles from the public library. Most days the hours are 12-8 but some days the hours are 10-3. It seems like we are always in town either before the library opens or after it closes. There has been talk of changing the hours to even less because of budget cuts. When Lamb 1 was little we went to library storytime. Not very many people showed up on Saturday morning so they quit having storytime. There is a summer reading program where they do a craft, read a story, get prizes for reading. The summer program has improved since we first started going, but again because of budget cuts, they may need to cut that too. Last summer we returned a library book on the day of summer program and it got lost on that crazy day and they said we didn't return it. It took awhile to get straightened out that we did return it. When I ordered things inter-library loan, they took a long time to come in and when they finally did, we were only allowed a little time before they were due to go back to the library (usually in the Twin Cities). If it was a book in our local system, then the whole process worked fine. But I asked for some books that weren't in our local system and that's where the problems came. DVDS are due back the next day after you check it out and it is rare for us to make a trip to town two days in a row. I have to really want to watch a movie to check out a DVD because I know I will need to make an extra trip to town.
We try to attend the summer reading program activities and throughout the year occasionally they have other activities/authors come in (thank you to our state sales tax increase a few years ago for this!) that we try to attend. But other than that, I am glad that the public library is there for others in the community to use, but we don't use the library. I'm sure other homeschoolers and even other SAHMs can't understand that! The reasons in the last paragraph are why. I'm sure the day is coming where the Lambs need/want to study topics that we don't have books about. But we have such an extensive library on all kinds of topics, that we are not at that point yet. I started a few months ago with the goal to read every picture book (just the fiction, not science or history books etc.) that we own to the Lambs. We are going in alphabetical order by author. We are currently on letter L-not even half way through the alphabet!
The one thing I use the local libraries for is for their book sales. It is not uncommon for me to buy 60-80 books at these book sales. I like the books about science especially-just watch for topics in science that would become outdated, but studying animals or magnets, etc. doesn't get outdated. I watch for a couple of different community libraries and they usually have a book sale once or twice a year. Some just ask for a donation, others ask for an average of 50 cents per book.
I know I am a library snob after my experience living in Fort Wayne and working at the public library there. When I was teaching every few weeks I would order online about 50 books and put them on hold and pick them up a few days later. I rarely bought books unless I had checked them out of the library and read them and decided I wanted to own them. I wouldn't own so many books in our home library if I could get them from the library easier.
Another positive is the Lambs choose for me to read them books that our in our home library. The times that we have checked out books from the public library, there have been problems-I don't want to read books with bad grammar or against my Christian morals or just plain stupid books. I also don't have to worry about fines for lost or late books. They do check out books for a few weeks in the summer so they get the experience of using the library without me worrying about the hassles of the library the rest of the year.
It is clear to me that if you live in a rural area you will either use the public library a lot (especially inter-library loan) or not very much like me. It would probably work better if our small town was near a big city to be part of their inter-library loan system. But there are no big cities in our local system so the books coming from the local system are all from other small town libraries. It is possible for me to get books inter-library loan outside of the local system, but it is not very easy.
So, if you live rural, do you use your library a lot or is it too difficult to use it frequently?
Come back tomorrow for another rural pastor's wife post.