Monday, February 20, 2012

My library is the best homeschooling bargain around

Blog Cruise time again.  I really want to be participating in these, but somehow it always sneaks past me.  But today is a lazy sort of day, so I will just do it. You can read what I have to say... and come back tomorrow to see what other TOS Homeschool Crew members wrote by clicking on the button...

The question:  What’s your favorite free or cheap homeschool resource?

While I could go on and on (And on.  And on.) about all kinds of free or cheap things I dearly love, my absolute favorite has to be Pikes Peak Library District.  And while I know my library is totally amazing, and not everyone has that... I also know that lots of homeschoolers (including me) overlook just how much they have at their fingertips.

First off, since this has to do with free or cheap... the cost.  Property taxes are paid whether I use the library or not, but even still, we're talking about roughly $90 per year of those taxes are going to the library.  I plan for another $20 or so per year in library fines, though I rarely end up with that much.  So for something under $10 per month, this is what I get in return:
  • The books, of course.  And being rural and served by the bookmobile, I get a 6 week check-out period.  Pikes Peak Library District has an amazing selection, and while I can't find absolutely everything I want, there is a really good mix of classics and contemporary materials.  Some books I am able to use for school.  Some I'm able to get a good look at so I can decide whether or not it is something I want to purchase.
  • DVDs.  These we are able to check out for two weeks at a time, and while a lot of what we get isn't educational, quite a bit is.  Right now, we have out the Canning video from Homestead Blessings, plus two DVDs about Colorado and North Dakota.  This series is fabulous.  We can watch biographical videos, science videos... the DVD option really expands our homeschooling possibilities.  Without having to pay a subscription.
  • Reading programs.  And these aren't just for the kids.  Dale & I are participating in the Adult Reading Program right now... I got a free chocolate bar and a ticket to the flea market.  I'll be turning in my form for the final prize on Wednesday, and in addition to whatever I get from that, I'll be entered in a drawing for a Kindle.  The kids in the summer always get cool things like free meals at Chick-fil-A, books, etc.
  • Volunteer work.  My teens volunteer for the summer reading program, which is a great opportunity to interact with the community in a different way... and they get stuff like t-shirts for doing that.  I love seeing them in their volunteer t-shirts.
  • Amazing staff people.  I adore everyone who works in Mobile Library Services (the fancy name for the bookmobile department!) as they are so wonderful and patient and helpful.  
Then there is the website.  Oh, wow.  I'd pay a monthly subscription for the amazing stuff I get there.  Just as a sample:
  • I can download three songs a week from Freegal.  I usually go for music that will add to what we're studying, and I do not remember to do this every week.  I wish I did.  They have all kinds of great stuff though.
  • We can stream video... stuff like newsreels of Winston Churchill speaking, or travel films, or films about science,  or a Ken Burns' series.
  • We can use either Tell Me More or Mango Languages to work on a foreign language.  We can even use Mango on the iPod Touch or iPad, which makes it much more likely to happen.
  • We have live homework help available... for grades 3 and up.  This includes math, writing, languages, etc., etc. etc.  
  • Test Prep -- oh, wow.  This includes online courses for the PSAT, SAT or ACT.  It includes timed practice tests for practically anything.  There are also printable tests for some of the exams.  We're talking AP, CLEP, DSST, among lots of other things.  I cried when I learned about this section.
  • There is a ton of research databases... we don't make enough use of this.  We do access World Book Online, and World Book for Kids too.  And Connor will do his author research here as well, as there is a literature section that includes bajillions of author biographies.  Okay 122,000 authors.  But still.  Everyone we've ever needed.
Then there are things like a science lab, which we will hopefully be able to start using (with only one car, we haven't been able to in the past) at least once a month (it's the 1st and 3rd Fridays, and they have amazing equipment).

Or an annual homeschooling fair where you can learn more about the library and other community resources.


Well, clearly, I get plenty of value from my library.  Definitely my single greatest homeschooling bargain.

I know all library systems are different.  What does yours offer that you love?


Michelle Smith said...

Wow, you do have an awesome library. You've got me thinking I need to check my own library's website over a little more carefully now. I may have missed something.

One great thing about my library is that it doesn't charge interlibrary loan fees. Which is wonderful! And the staff is very good and friendly.

Debbie said...

The library is my favorite homeschooling resource too! I need to check it out to see if they offer some of the resources that yours does--like the foreign language.

Anonymous said...

You can go to and These are wonderful resources. For I can search the states database! I love interlibrary loans, and I'm sure if I did better I could save much more money! And wdl= world digital library, I haven't spent much time there but it looks fun!