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An Ode to the Library

I LOVE my library.  Really, really love it.

As an unschooler, I see my "job" as being a resource person, a librarian, if you will, rather than a teacher.  So the library is a place of great value.

It just so happens that my library, Scoville Memorial Library, was the first public library in the nation.  Isn't that so cool?!  It was originally a children's library (how wonderful!) and has the best collection (in my humble opinion) of children's books around.  I have lived in big cities with big libraries - and really, there were so many bad books in there (books of questionable literary value and twaddle) that it made the good books hard to find.

We take a weekly (sometimes more often) trip to the library.  I find a weekly trip to be helpful, because then you are returning the books on the day they are due, and not needing to go back a few days later because you checked things out on different days.

The other thing I find helpful, is Library Elf.  It's an online program that emails me three days before my books are due with a list of what is due and when.  It can even combine multiple library cards, in case you have kids with their own cards.

I also have a library shelf.  This is a shelf on our bookcase that is only for library books.  The kids all know that they must put their library books back on that shelf so that they are easy to find when it's time to collect up the books.

Librarians are a wonderful resource for helping you to find books that are appropriate for certain ages and books on specific subjects.  They can request books from other libraries in the area, or even in the state.  They can show you how to locate resources on the internet.

Many libraries also have movies, music and books on CD available to checkout.  Since these all tend to have differing due dates, Library Elf really helps me keep it all straight.

Libraries are also a great opportunity to practice good behavior in public.  I practice talking in a "whisper voice" with the children before we visit the library.  We also talk about how many books they may check out (so they don't pull them all off the shelves) and not to run in the library.  Occasionally, we may need to leave the library early when children aren't obeying or behaving properly.  It's a lot easier to leave a local library and come back and try again tomorrow, than it is to leave a museum or some other place for which you have paid an admission fee.

Our Children's Librarian, Erin, is wonderful.  She has many programs for the kids, including story hours, crafts and parties.  She even hosted a sleepover for the kids' stuffed animals.  We've had the opportunity to read to a dog, play dress up with "Fancy Nancy" and participate in the Nutmeg Awards.  Check with your children's librarian to make sure you are on their email list and know about all the great things going on at your library.

Libraries often have books for sale or even free.  Most of the books on my shelves have been gleaned from libraries.

Lastly, don't forget to check out the libraries when you are on vacation.  That's the great thing about libraries - they are open to anyone, and you don't have to live there in order to go in.  They are a welcome reprieve from the heat or the cold.  They have bathrooms!  They have books, movies, and computers.  And while you probably can't check anything out while you are on vacation, there's nothing quite so settling as snuggling up in a big comfy chair and having mom or dad read you a book when you are away from home.

Wish you were here!

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