How do you build a good relationship with your local library? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 33 Old 07-01-2010, 02:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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In order to make our home more a more manageable and peaceful place dh and I have decided to do a major purge.
One of my big time killers was picking up books. I have a collection of several thousand books and our goal is to get it down to around 100, that will include school books.
Other than for the occasional fun activity we do not really go to our local library. We never really had a need to because we had such a huge selection at home.
Many of my resource books I plan to buy back electronically and put on a Kindle, I am making a list as I go. But that just will not cut it when dealing with children they "need" that feel of the book in hand and the pictures laid out in front of them.
So basically for the first time ever we need to have a good/great working relationship with our local library.
We live in a small town with a small library. The selection is not great but they can of course get the books we will need through inter library loan, so I dont think that will be a problem. The real catch is that on the rare occasion that we have went we get the hairy eye from many of the librarians because we just dont look like most people in our town. Baby in sling, dh and oldest son with matching mohawks, oldest daughter with pink hair. Oh and if it is summer and they catch a glimpse of my hairy legs.... lol I think they would faint.
So how do I build a relationship with these ladies? I want us to be able to feel comfortable there and be able to enjoy ourselves and for them to know us as people and not just curiosities. There is one exception to the awkwardness the head librarian is the same lady that use to drive the book mobile were I lived as a kid and remembers me, she says she always remembers the "readers" lol. So when we run into her she always seems excited to see me and my family. So maybe start by working through her? Bake them some cookies? I do make some awesome chocolate chip!

As a homeschooler do you think we will use it that often now that we will not be having our large home library?

Loved wife to JT and grateful mother to M (dd age 13) L (dd age 10) T (ds age 6) A (ds age 4) E (dd age 2) and C & S (twin boys born 10/13/10)
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#2 of 33 Old 07-01-2010, 03:16 AM
 
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Are you going to donate any of the books you're getting rid of to the library? I would think that would give them a good feeling about you, especially if they're especially good books. - Lillian
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#3 of 33 Old 07-01-2010, 03:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes a portion of the books will be donated to the library. In another thread I had some great advice on how to get rid of all of them and someone kindly pointed out that many books would be overwhelming for any ONE place. I had planned on donating mostly my parenting/birth/breastfeeding/homeschool type books to them because they have such a very, very small selection in those categories. But now that you have pointed out that the donation may be a good stepping stone I think I will probably need to balance those books out with a wide variety of "other" topic books as well, less I come across... I dont know... preachy or something. What do you think? How many books would look good vs. overwhelming for them? Keep in mind it is a very small library.

Loved wife to JT and grateful mother to M (dd age 13) L (dd age 10) T (ds age 6) A (ds age 4) E (dd age 2) and C & S (twin boys born 10/13/10)
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#4 of 33 Old 07-01-2010, 03:55 AM
 
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I've read in the past that libraries aren't really all that fond of donations unless they just happen to have more space than books. Here at least, that's usually not the case. If you search the catalogues for a lot of the city libraries here you'll often see "stack" instead of "shelf/checked-in" which means that it's in storage somewhere and you'll need to ask them to get it for you. So what I'm saying is that yes, too many books would be overwhelming.
Cookies sound great
We got lucky with our local library. The main librarian is lovely and adores kids, even noisy ones Unfortunately it's only open part-time Right now the main branch is closed for renovations so our branch is open fulltime with the librarians from the main branch and they are not so nice I'm happy I don't have to remember when the library will actually be open but DD is always disapointed when we get there and they are not so friendly to her.
Have you thought of asking the library what subject areas they would appreciate donations in?

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#5 of 33 Old 07-01-2010, 08:15 AM
 
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We are enormous fans of the library --and we have built a relationship over a course of years. I think the important part is being there.

The situations with libraries in the US isn't good funding is way down and libraries are closing.

Our local libraries love donations, their Friends Associations hold booksales and make good money for the library each year.

We bring our librarians treats (organic oranges and chocolate at Christmas) we pay our fines and we are respectful --quiet, we return books clean-- we ask the librarians for help!

The library is our largest home schooling resource!!

Good luck

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#6 of 33 Old 07-01-2010, 08:29 AM
 
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The way we developed a good relationship with our tiny local library is through them seeing us there frequently. We go to storytime every Monday and make a point of making small talk with the librarians. We stop by other times through the week to pick up books that we've put on hold or requested online.

We've never made donations or baked cookies (although we had planned to bring treats by around Christmas; it just didn't come together). They just see us a lot, see our kids growing, etc.

Jen, former sys admin and current geek , wife to DH , SAHM and Montessori homeschool teacher to DD "Nugget" (05/07) and new arrival DS "Sprout" (03/31/10)
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#7 of 33 Old 07-01-2010, 08:38 AM
 
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I think in this day and age, learning someone's name and using it goes a very long way. Greeting them with their name and learning a little something about them is always nice. Do they have kids? How old? This works just about anywhere...the bank, the grocery store etc.
I also agree with being very respectful of library rules and returning books in good condition etc. I don't see how you can go wrong if you do that.
Btw, I'm all about breaking stereotypes, which it sounds to me is the underlying message of your family at the library....like "don't judge a book by it's cover"
(well that was appropriate wasn't it. lol)

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#8 of 33 Old 07-01-2010, 10:08 AM
 
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I will ditto others, being kind and respectful and there often.

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#9 of 33 Old 07-01-2010, 11:15 AM
 
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On donating books to the library, usually they don't take the books for their collection, unless it is in really good condition and needed. But most libraries accept the book for their Book Sales, since everyone's budget is being cut.

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#10 of 33 Old 07-01-2010, 11:17 AM
 
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Being there and being a good library patron, absolutely. Bringing them a plate of brownies once in a while doesn't hurt, LOL!

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#11 of 33 Old 07-01-2010, 11:24 AM
 
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Maybe I've just been lucky, but in multiple countries, I've had great luck with all my librarians! I think frequenting the library, especially in off hours when they have more free time, commenting on changes and new materials, saying thanks for activities they set up, etc. I also make sure my kids (4 and 2) know our librarians' names and they both go in excited to greet them... whose heart doesn't melt at a little kid barreling at them, happy to see them?
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#12 of 33 Old 07-01-2010, 11:24 AM
 
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Just go, and go often. Yes, some people can make assumptions about a person because of their looks. But really once they get to now you and your kids they won't see the Mohawks they'll see kids who love to read and research etc. We go to our library often, and all the children's librarians now both my kids names. They make us feel so welcome, and we don't live in a small town not at all. I think it's just that not too many families go as often as we do. When your kids are old enough they could volunteer to help put books back on the shelves or locate hold items.
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#13 of 33 Old 07-01-2010, 11:40 AM
 
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We have a small library as well and a collection of some of the States grouchiest librarians. I do not know what happens behind the scenes at our local library, but it must be something akin to daily torture to explain the sour attitude of the people working there.

That said, my little homeschooling family has broken through to a couple of the folks and we have developed a decent relationship. It has taken time, careful attention and thick skin. We are excellent patrons, donate books and money to the annual fundraiser and behave very well when we visit the library.

Take the time to get to know people, be polite, and you'll be fine.

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#14 of 33 Old 07-01-2010, 01:04 PM
 
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What do you think? How many books would look good vs. overwhelming for them? Keep in mind it is a very small library.
I think this is a good opportunity to have a friendly conversation with them about all the books you have and how you'd love to donate to them however many they'd like and whatever kind. That was the part I was thinking of when I made the suggestion - the personal contact. Library book sales are a pretty big deal around where I live - with volunteers who specialize in setting them up. Lillian
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#15 of 33 Old 07-01-2010, 01:06 PM
 
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I've had really good experiences with libraries as a homeschooler. When we lived in the US, we were at our local library at least once a week - they knew we were homeschoolers and loved that my kids came in knowing what they wanted to learn about and would ask for help finding resources. All the librarians and other library employees really loved reading and learning and loved helping to inspire kids to care about books and libraries. If my kids were in there asking for books about X topic and they found something after we left, they would often set it aside for us for the next time. I think just being friendly and respectful, and asking for help (especially in the off hours) finding resources goes a long way. People don't become librarians for the "great" pay and the "glory." They do it because they have a love for it, and passing down that love to children is usually a big priority for them. I doubt you'll have a problem as long as you're nice - they might think you're weirdos, but that might not be a problem
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#16 of 33 Old 07-01-2010, 01:58 PM
 
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On donating books to the library, usually they don't take the books for their collection, unless it is in really good condition and needed. But most libraries accept the book for their Book Sales, since everyone's budget is being cut.
YEP.

Ours looves books for their sale.

we are dear freinds with the director at our little lib. Very small. we talk to her, we go to the events, the kids talk to her, ...just like being freinds with anyone else.

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#17 of 33 Old 07-01-2010, 02:01 PM
 
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We have a small library as well and a collection of some of the States grouchiest librarians. I do not know what happens behind the scenes at our local library, but it must be something akin to daily torture to explain the sour attitude of the people working there.

That said, my little homeschooling family has broken through to a couple of the folks and we have developed a decent relationship. It has taken time, careful attention and thick skin. We are excellent patrons, donate books and money to the annual fundraiser and behave very well when we visit the library.

Take the time to get to know people, be polite, and you'll be fine.
Us, too. We have a couple librarians that your would assume are secretly demons in human-suits. But others that are great. I also need to clear out some books and always donate some to the library fundraiser. Good luck, OP!

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#18 of 33 Old 07-01-2010, 02:24 PM
 
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In addition to being a good responsible library patron, going frequently, and being friendly, I'd suggest getting involved in some of the kid's programs they might have going on. Our library has tons of programs and events for kids (many of which are funded by book sales ), particularly in the summer. Yesterday they had a bluegrass concert! We have gotten to know many of the librarians quite well from participating in those things.
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#19 of 33 Old 07-02-2010, 12:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for the wonderful advice and insight into the situation.

So it seems like it all comes down to what I was taught as a kid "If you want to make friends, be friendly."

My boys can be kind of loud so I think for the next couple of months I will have dh drop me and the girls off for half an hour or so while he takes the boys to the park. During that time I will find out what books they would want/need.

And who knows... maybe by Christmas it will be cookie time!

Loved wife to JT and grateful mother to M (dd age 13) L (dd age 10) T (ds age 6) A (ds age 4) E (dd age 2) and C & S (twin boys born 10/13/10)
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#20 of 33 Old 07-02-2010, 08:20 PM
 
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In addition to being a good responsible library patron, going frequently, and being friendly, I'd suggest getting involved in some of the kid's programs they might have going on. Our library has tons of programs and events for kids (many of which are funded by book sales ), particularly in the summer. Yesterday they had a bluegrass concert! We have gotten to know many of the librarians quite well from participating in those things.
Totally agree! Our library has some great programs, just starting the summer reading program- Luke is soooo very excited.

Also, our kid's library has a play area and I make sure that we don't leave a mess and if other's leave messes after storytime we try to help clean it up.

Happily Married to my : 11 yrs- Mama to wild-eyed monkey boy 7-04, fiery little girl 4-07, and the happy smiley baby that sleeps 11-09!
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#21 of 33 Old 07-02-2010, 08:39 PM
 
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Flaterry...seriously I think it got us a long way with our librarian. We have a smaller branch library that can get books thru other neighboring libraries but we prefer the one closet to our house which simply cant hold that many books. But we started off going to storytime and then some of their kids activities. I think over time we have become known as frequenters there. I made it a point for the kids to tell the librarian that they appreciated the work she put into it (and she put it a lot of time/effort as some of the things were really awesome programs)

I started to ask the librarians about book suggestions on subjects or ideas that the kids had, again it was a smaller library so often they were thrilled to help us look stuff up and order it or even point out things they had there.


I also started keeping a list of books that we were no longer using or interested in keeping and occasssionally bring by the librarian. I'd ask her if there was anything the librarian would consider for donation. Most of the popular fiction (dh's books) were big hits so they were always glad to get those in as they were asked for frequently. Plus we'd donate whatever is left over to the library book sale for funds to sponser things like the kids programs and senior book mobiles.

I was little apprehensive how they'd take to us because were hser but I think after they started to see us and knew that we wanted to support our local library it went a long way to making us (well me) feel more comfortable there.
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#22 of 33 Old 07-03-2010, 10:16 AM
 
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We live in a small town with a small library. The selection is not great but they can of course get the books we will need through inter library loan, so I dont think that will be a problem.
Just a quick note of caution - our library has started charging for interlibrary loan - $1/requested item. Also you can't always renew a book you have through interlibrary loan, so you have to be finished with it in 2 weeks. Since it can take many weeks to get an item (for us) it can make planning interesting.
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#23 of 33 Old 07-03-2010, 05:07 PM
 
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I think in this day and age, learning someone's name and using it goes a very long way. Greeting them with their name and learning a little something about them is always nice. Do they have kids? How old? This works just about anywhere...the bank, the grocery store etc.
I also agree with being very respectful of library rules and returning books in good condition etc. I don't see how you can go wrong if you do that.
Btw, I'm all about breaking stereotypes, which it sounds to me is the underlying message of your family at the library....like "don't judge a book by it's cover"
(well that was appropriate wasn't it. lol)
Exactly! I found that most people at our library rarely chatted or called the librarians by name. When I started doing that, they all took a second look at us & after 2 years they know us very well.In fact, they'll see what I have on hold sometimes & pull extra books for us, just in case we may be interested. We ended up bringing them some chocolate covered pretzels for librarian day in April & they Loved being acknowledged.

I also look very different from my fellow neighbors, but the librarians have been very kind to us, as we are respectful of them & the library. We practically live there it's so much fun.

Lola , loving my DH, Mama to & we &
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#24 of 33 Old 07-03-2010, 09:27 PM
 
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Talk to the director. Chances are s/he handles all of the collections, and will be able to tell you if they'll put any/some of your books on the shelves (if that's what you want). There's usually a written (or mental) policy of what their population needs. They might not need the parenting/breastfeeding etc books. The patrons might use the ILL (interlibrary loan) to get those, leaving room on the shelves for more circulated materials. If something goes out once or twice a year, and another goes out 30 times a year, they're going to concentrate on the thing/category that goes out 30 times a year, and have just a couple of the ones that don't circulate that often.

The children's books will probably be added to the collection, maybe replacing worn copies that they have, older books that don't circulate, or out of date books that haven't been pulled.

If you want to get rid of them all to the library, talk to the director first. Let her know (if it's not a problem with you) that you don't care if they sell the books, trash the books (it happens!), donate the books to another source (I had a whole collection that I donated go to a University library, from my small public library) or add the books to their collection.

Mohawks wouldn't bother most librarians. My assistant director loves my fiance, who has a deathhawk (version of a mohawk). She doesn't even blink at his multiple earrings, the way he dresses etc.
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#25 of 33 Old 07-03-2010, 10:17 PM
 
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Well, if our librarians can like me and my two "get crazy when we're there" kids, they can like anyone.

We've been in our current town a year and they knew us pretty well within the first few months. We go to events, we visit the library weekly and just try to be polite.

You know, "how you doing, any good books," blah blah blah.

I'd say just be polite and go often and they'll be smiling soon enough. (Of course, I know some librarians are pretty crotchety-- but hopefully, yours will chill out soon enough.)

And yes, the flattery and being nice does work. I've had one librarian give me a heads up about a possible job opening (she remembered me once saying I wanted to work there) and another lets me go into her "saved" books she keeps for holidays-- you know, the books they line the tops of shelves with?

Welcome to the Real World she said to me, condescendingly, take a seat. Take your life; plot it out in black and white.
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#26 of 33 Old 07-08-2010, 05:32 PM
 
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We built great relationships with our library's children's librarians just by going to the library all the time. They know my kids by name and are interested in their development.

A few things that I think are helpful for homeschoolers who are heavy library users:
- If you're going to need personalized service (for example, if you will need books from closed stacks), find out when the less-busy times are and go then. I would never go in with my request list right after story hour or on Saturday morning.
- If you have a list of requests, organize it. I put title, author, and call number and the librarians really appreciate it.
- Don't take out all the books on a topic. It's not so nice for anyone else who wants to read about that topic. Especially important for things like holiday studies.

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#27 of 33 Old 07-08-2010, 07:30 PM
 
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See if they have a "Friends of the Library" group. That's what I did. We came from an outstanding library system to a tiny town library with fewer non fiction titles than I have for kids.

BUT, I joined the Friends group-they were THRILLED to have me since it was old old ladies except for one other woman my age. Now I get to help decide what gets purchased Yes, I had ulterior motives but who cares?

They have no books on CD for kids so I get to pick anything I want/think the kids would like and they'll buy it-how's that for excitement!? LOL

I also get to help with the annual book sale which is quite good for such a small town-we have lots of homeschoolers in the area. I get first picks since I'm helping which is a nice perk.

I also volunteer to help with kids programs sometimes too.

Now I'm a "fixture" at the library and even though the book selection isn't great, I can get most of what I need through loan and enjoy being a part of the library.

It's not really that much of a time commitment either-maybe 3hrs per month.

Full-time homeschooling mama : of a 15yo "teenager" , 12yo DIVA, 9yo builder, & 4yo treasure.
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#28 of 33 Old 07-08-2010, 08:54 PM
 
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another thought. i have the e-mail address of our director. i e-mail her requests

"what do you have on _______"

or

"can you get _______ on ILL?"

or whatever (our catologe is not searchable on the Net)

so she can deal with it when she has time. this is a big help to BOTH of us as i have young kids and they can't handle standing around if she and I talk about stuff liek that.

that can help -- letting them research stuff, look stuff up, and getting back to you later

Aimee + Scott = Theodore Roosevelt (11/05) and 23 months later Charles Abraham (10/07)....praying for a little sister; the search starts May 2014
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#29 of 33 Old 07-08-2010, 11:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Rivka5 View Post
We built great relationships with our library's children's librarians just by going to the library all the time. They know my kids by name and are interested in their development.

A few things that I think are helpful for homeschoolers who are heavy library users:
- If you're going to need personalized service (for example, if you will need books from closed stacks), find out when the less-busy times are and go then. I would never go in with my request list right after story hour or on Saturday morning.
- If you have a list of requests, organize it. I put title, author, and call number and the librarians really appreciate it.
- Don't take out all the books on a topic. It's not so nice for anyone else who wants to read about that topic. Especially important for things like holiday studies.

I've been following this thread since in my former life, I was the librarian that many homeschoolers went to. Everyone has had really good advice, but here are a couple things not mentioned.

Ask the librarian how she prefers to be addressed. I liked the kids using my first name, but I worked with several who preferred to be addressed more formally. It is great to have a say in this.

Most librarians really do love to help, but if you need extensive help don't expect it to all be done immediately. Leave your list with a phone number. I loved having these to work on during less busy times.

If your librarian recommends a book that you (or your child) reads and enjoys, go back and let them know that you liked it. It is nice to know. It gave me such a good feeling to know that I helped them find a great book.

Please don't dump the teaching responsibilities on the librarian. Most don't, but I had one hs family that did this and it became annoying to see them. They were nice, wonderful people BUT I was not supposed to be giving one on one instruction to a seven year old about computer usage. I like helping him, pointing him to sites or games or books, but then he needed to take it from there.

I did like teaching children how to use the library though, and if a parent thought ahead to schedule a time with me or to come at a slower time, I would go over everything and give the child a chance to practice finding things too.

Also, respect the closing times of the library. Same family. . .dad would rush in to use the internet 10 min to close. This library system wasn't all that high tech and the librarians had to personally "kick" people off the machines. He was very difficult and eventually got mad at us (15 min after closing) and told his family that they couldn't use our branch anymore.

Oh, and if you don't have certain "schedules" set in stone. . . the librarian usually knows when the schools all do reports on _____ topic. So, if you want to not compete with all the public school kids for books about pandas (or whatever), ask the librarian. We anticipated when the Catholic schools would do their "saint reports" and when the public schools required science projects, etc.

Amy

Mom to three very active girls Anna (14), Kayla (11), Maya (8). 
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#30 of 33 Old 07-09-2010, 12:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by AAK View Post

I've been following this thread since in my former life, I was the librarian that many homeschoolers went to. Everyone has had really good advice, but here are a couple things not mentioned.

Most librarians really do love to help, but if you need extensive help don't expect it to all be done immediately. Leave your list with a phone number. I loved having these to work on during less busy times.
Amy
This is sooo helpful! I have 2 little little kids and going to the library to look for books is sometimes daunting - the card catalog is on computer and it is frankly difficult to navigate and it is impossible to keep an eye on my toddlers while I am doing this. At the same time I haven't wanted to just hand the librarian a list and say "do you have these?" But this is a great idea! Are you sure it isn't an imposition to leave a list for them to look up at their leisure?

Also I remember coming across a website that had a link "find this book at your local library." Now of course I can't find it. But does anyone know of an online resource like that - where I could look up a list of books from home and see which libraries in my area carry them? That way I could know which my library has and which to ask for interlibrary loan and which I might need to purchase.

Thanks!
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