Thursday, March 13, 2014

Our In-Home Branch of the Public Library

What I'm about to show you is embarrassing, I'm told. I don't personally think it's embarrassing, because I have zero sense of personal shame, but I do recognize that you are probably going to think that this is very, very weird.

Okay, here it is. This is an entire bookshelf in our home. Ninety-nine percent of this bookshelf holds materials from our town's public library and our university's libraries. We call it the Library Bookshelf:

At the top left there, you see some undergrad chemistry textbooks that I've checked out from the IU library. I was studying biology through the MIT OpenCourse system, but kept running into a bunch of chemistry that I didn't know, so I switched to chemistry. Of course, now that I'm studying chemistry, I keep running into a bunch of electricity stuff that I don't know.

When Will was researching for her Biography Fair project, way back in the fall, we all got really into Jules Verne. Now, most nights of the week, Matt reads aloud to us a chapter of The Mysterious Island before the kids go to bed. We keep having to return it to the public library and check it out again, because it's something like the longest book ever.

I got interested in Lewis and Clark after Syd chose a documentary on them to watch as a family some time ago. A friend suggested the historical fiction of James Alexander Thom, all of which was clogging up the library bookshelf for a while before I decided that I would save them all as a treat to read on our big road trip this summer, but in the meantime I also got interested in the Native Americans of that time, especially the ones who lived in what is now Indiana, and will be incorporating a lot of that material into our Indiana study.

I always have a ton of teaching materials checked out from the IU School of Education library. They give me a LOT of help in teaching math, especially, but they also have manipulatives, textbooks, board games, and children's books, and their lending period is immense. The kids' Latin textbook actually belongs to the School of Ed, and I think that we've only had to return it and check it out again once in the past year. Most of those Latin books on the shelf (though not all) are from the IU libraries, actually, as well as that whole Saxon Math collection--I like Math Mammoth, but I always have my eye out for alternatives.

The magazines belong to us. I don't know why, but I can never seem to sit down and read a magazine unless I'm on a road trip, so I save them up.

Will wants to learn to solder. I feel doubts about this.

Those entomology books are also all from the IU libraries. I've finally decided on a humane-ish killing jar, but I still can't figure out where to buy the chemicals to charge it.

Homemade pizza is a staple in our house.

We always have a lot of materials that support our Story of the World studies on our shelves. I really should return the rest of our Ancient Egypt materials, since we'll be coming back to Ancient Egypt again in a few chapters. We completed the Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (or something like that) chapter this morning, and I think that instead of bothering with spending another week doing mapwork for fictional characters, we'll move straight on to Hammurabi next. Looks like I'll be doing another library search!

Yes, I am very interested in post-apocalyptic fiction. Anything will do, although I love zombies the most. Matt keeps most of his pleasure reading in the car, since he likes to hide out there to read during his lunch hour at work, so imagine another big stack of graphic novels and histories there.

Syd's earning her Potter badge right now in Girl Scouts, so we've got some pottery and ceramics books on the shelves. Will's interested in woodworking, which explains those books, but just decided this morning to start earning her Geocaching badge, so expect a bunch of geocaching books on the shelves in a couple of days.

Both girls read non-fiction books about animals, comic books, joke books, and trivia books. I just replenished Syd's stack of easy readers, so there are about twenty more on the shelves than there were in this photo.

Will's also really into fantasy, and also novels about kids who rescue pets, or girls who help ponies, etc. Those titles come and go at lightening speed, however, so the specific ones are pretty hard to pin down. I do know that right now she's reading Tom Sawyer, a book that we own, but only because she came up out of nowhere one day and asked, "Why can't I understand what Jim is saying?"

I paused, closed my eyes, and contemplated all possible contexts, before my library science and liberal arts training pinged and led me to the correct conclusion: Jim, whose speech is written in dialect, friend of Huck Finn but also of Tom Sawyer, whose book I know we own. Will and I then had a lovely conversation about why it's tacky to write in dialect, what such writing is trying to show, and why black men of that time might not have learned, or be comfortable speaking with, correct grammar and pronunciation.

I need to move us into a dinosaur unit, so that we're all experts for our summer dino dig. I'm still unsure of exactly where to start, however, since we've studied dinosaurs so often before.

I'm hoping that we'll stay with the bird study, as we focus more on Indiana-specific wildlife.

The kids' monthly day-long nature class has an emphasis on survival skills; they find that kind of disaster-prep reading fascinating.

We've backed off a bit on Will's history of video games study, just because we've had so much else going on. I need to check in to see if it's still an interest, and if it is, we need to get back in it.

Soooo... yeah. That's our bookshelf. Sometimes people come over, happen to see it, start to browse, then ask, with horrified fascination, "Are all those... LIBRARY BOOKS?!?"

Um, yes. Yes, they are. So if you've ever been at the library trying to check something out, only to realize, frustrated, that ALL the DK biographies are missing, or ALL the James Alexander Thom novels, or ALL the children's books on pottery, then you'll know:

I have them, and I'm not giving them back until they're three days overdue.


Tina said...

That is an AWESOME bookshelf! and I thought we were bad with our one shelf full of library books. How I WISH we had access to a university library. As it is, the two we have access to are not really awesome- one won't even order kids paperbacks and until recently, the paperbacks they did have were not even organized!
When we lived in Iowa, the two libraries we had access to were wonderful and would inter-library loan or order any book we asked for.
So, we have started buying books again. I'm not super excited about that because we also don't have a large selection of used book stores here, but hey. We get by with what we have.
For the IU library, is it open to the public or can you borrow from them because your worked (work?) there?

julie said...

Our IU libraries are open to the public and you can borrow anything there just as a resident of the state, but I think that the lending periods might be shorter, and you don't get many of the amenities that a university affiliate does.

*I* don't get any special amenities anymore, but MATT does! Because he's an employee, we can request that any library book in any of the libraries in the entire IU system be held for him to pick up at the library of his choice, and we can inter-library loan absolutely anything that has an ISBN.

I regularly inter-library loan items that I'm considering for the kids--I did that with the SOTW activity books, and the Life of Fred series--and items that I see mentioned by other homeschoolers or in education catalogues, and items that the kids want but that aren't held locally. A few years back, Will was VERY into the Rainbow Magic series; she went online, and discovered that there were several Rainbow Magic books out in the UK that hadn't been published in the US yet. I inter-library loaned them for her, and when they came, they came with a stamp from a London library!

Tina said...

So. Incredibly. Jealous.

I just (re)discovered yesterday that I only get 10 free inter-library loans a year. A YEAR! Seriously? I could use those up in a month. Just planning to increase our book budget. Foods over rated anyway.

julie said...

You won't even notice that you're eating beans and rice for every meal if you're reading at the table!


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