Monday, March 7, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #26

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.


Karen said...

Our town is about 7000 people and we live 2 blocks from the public library. I used it three times in the last year. The older children walk down to the library every few days to get more books.

The library is so small that they don't have a great selection of adult books. The children's section is well stocked and the librarian is very helpful.

I'm not thrilled with inter-library loan. The few times that I have ordered from inter-library loan, it's been difficult. It takes 3-4 weeks for the book to arrive and then the library doesn't call you immediately to let you know that it's available. I had 2 books shipped back because I hadn't picked them up. The problem was that I didn't know they were available!

In our last town (around 60000), we drove to the library several times each week. The selection was fantastic. DVDs were loaned out for 7 days. It was a very user friendly system.

Anonymous said...

We have to pay shipping on ILL here, so I only use that if I know we really do want that book (in which case I'm just as likely to buy my own copy). Add to that the fact that WY is the least populated state, so odds are good that I can't ILL the books I want even if I'm willing to pay shipping.
Our library is decent considering the small budget that they have, but I can't count on them for books to supplement our homeschool studies and therefore regular visits aren't a priority. :(

Raggedy Sue said...

I am so perplexed that you liked the Indiana library system! About a dozen years ago, I lived and taught in Northwestern Indiana for two years. I was very frustrated by the state's system. I forget the exact term - I think it was township - but it dictated which library district you were permitted to get a free library card. I lived in a small township, with a tiny Carnegie-era library in the closest town. This was the only place I could check books out from even though I taught a half an hour away in a much bigger city. I couldn't use their library nor the much, much bigger one that was located one town to the north. Even with being a teacher, I would have had to pay a $75 yearly fee/dues to use those libraries. It wasn't uncommon for me wipe out an entire shelf of my little local library for my classrooms' needs. (And since the school used Whole Language - gag - I was forever needing to check out supplemental materials. I've often blamed my bad back on regularly toting THREE milk crates back and forth.) 
Since then, I've lived in three cities in Ohio (I've felt like the city mouse reading your rural pastor's wife series) and each time have literally thanked God when I am told at neighboring libraries I am able to get a library card.  

Ewe said...

Raggedy Sue-The difference is that I lived IN the big city. I know what you mean though because when I worked at the library there I often had to fill out the form and take the $75 from others that lived outside the county and wanted to use the big city library. (Although I think it was $50 then.) I felt really bad taking that money when I knew they lived really close to our big city (or at least regularly visited our big city). But using the big city library was important enough to them to spend $75 per year. If I lived close enough to that library system to pay $75 per year to use it, I would-it was worth it. I still log online to their catalog to look for ideas of books on certain topics to put on my wish list for some day.
I grew up in small towns in Southern IN so my family appreciated the big city library when I moved there in high school. Sadly, many people in the big city don't realize how blessed they are to have that resource. But even the small towns I lived in Southern IN were much much larger than where I live now-I would love to even have those small town libraries as a resource instead of a town of 2000 library as a resource.

Joelle said... IN are you guarnteed a free card to a library somewhere? When I worked at the public library in Twin Falls, ID, you had to live in the city limits to get a free card. That is because some of your property taxes went to the library. If you didn't live in city limits, you didn't have to pay that part of the property tax. People who lived out of town would get upset at that, but they shouldn't have, really. They weren't paying in their taxes, so paying the fee is really the same thing.


That much bigger library in Twin Falls only had 1 story time a week. Our little library where we live now has a lot less books, but they have a music/dance class about 8 times a week, an art class about 8 times a week, and story time about 8 times a week. That is just the preschool programs. They also have a once a week program for elem. age, jr. high age, and hs age. Also a prog. for reading to therapy dogs, a pj story time, and other events. They decided many years ago to make the library mostly about the kids. It is great!

Helpful Teacher said...


Thanks, Ewe, for your enlightening post on the reasons your library isn't all that helpful in your homeschooling. I was also glad to read the above comments on other people's experiences.

In short, I'm feeling *so* lucky to have 1. a nearby library 2. that's free with 3. an inter-library loan program that's actually worthwhile.

Thanks so much for reminding me what I have to be thankful for.

Take care!