Thursday, October 20, 2011

Best Homesteading/Homeschooling Investment Ever? A Library Card

Living on one salary means keeping a tight budget. Hell, in these times living on two salaries means keeping a tight budget. Everyone needs to save a few dollars here and there. In order to keep our homestead and home school functioning we use our county library. It is the number one "back pocket" resource I have.

We have borrowed books and periodicals on just about everything: solar energy, raising chickens and goats, how to home school, curriculum choices, construction, crafts, organic gardening, knitting, norse mythology, geography, math...I could list hundreds of topics that we've researched at our local library. There are very few books that I feel I must own but, if I check a particular title out two or three times, then I might consider buying a copy. Preferably at our library's annual book sale!

We moved here from Baltimore County, where the libraries are large and well-funded. Books of any subject were immediately available for browsing and borrowing. Plus, a plethora of programming to choose from. it was amazing.

I was shocked and a bit dismayed when I first walked into our local York County library. Shortly after moving here, we headed to our nearest town, Red Lion. I felt a bit snobbish—it was so small. There were so few books. I was missing Baltimore County! But we grew to love the children's librarian and the older boys always seemed to find what they wanted. So we continued our weekly visits, trekking the 10 miles to Red Lion. 

One day the librarian was kind enough to point out that we actually had a library in our little village, just a mile from home. I had no idea! It was right down the road? Really? Why hadn't I noticed it before? (A little foreshadowing...)

A trailer? You gotta be kidding! No wonder I hadn't noticed it. It was literally a double wide trailer parked on the elementary school-yard. Great. Upon entering, the first thing I noticed was a picture of what this library used to look like...a psychedelically painted single wide trailer. And before that? A bookmobile. This village had seen quite a bit of progress!

The next thing I noticed was the incredibly friendly atmosphere. No shushing or dirty looks. In fact, the librarian was exuberantly cheerful, and chatty. She ushered us around the library— actually she stood in the center and pointed to each section, it was that small. But, what I had not known before was that the library could order any book I needed from any library in the state. Wow, that changed my view...we had a little gem right in our own community!

Over the years our family has borrowed hundreds of books. Friday has become our library day, when we pick up our next week's block study materials and the Boy picks up his next two or three pleasure readers. Once a month we attend a home school co-op run by one of the librarians. We are avid summer reading club participants; the boy logged over 9,000 minutes this year. (goal is 800 minutes), and I participate in fund raising and program planning activities. We occasionally attend special programming, depending on time and interest. 

But the best of all is that ability to get books from all over the state — lots of knowledge without spending a dime.

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