How to Use the Library Effectively in Your Homeschool

A wonderfully frugal way to homeschool unless those fines build up, don't let that happen

Homeschooling can get very expensive when you add up all the books for each subject, which is worst if you have more than one child at home. One of the ways to offset those costs is to use the library as often as you can. We’ve planned our homeschool schedule but do you have a library schedule?  Have you been following along in my 31 Days to a Better Planned Homeschool series?

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How to Use the Library Effectively in Your Homeschool

We all do it, the library can get awfully expensive if you don’t get your books renewed on time, or if they’re not returned by the due date, or sometimes they get damaged or lost and you have to spend a ridiculous amount of money to replace it with their added admin fee. It can be a nightmare and shun you from using the library.

Keep track of renewal dates

Use a planner or an online calendar that sends your a message once your renewal date is up, but do something. The likelihood that you’ll remember it when those 3 weeks are up is not going to happen. You have 30 books out and at $0.10 a day for each book, things add up quickly.

Keep books separate

I keep all the library books on one shelf and our own books on another. There are also a set of our books that are upstairs on a shelf as well. We try to keep library books separated from our own books because when it’s time to head out to the library and you’re looking for that one book, it becomes extremely elusive. It hides among your books and camouflages itself making it impossible to find. I do this to maintain my sanity on library days.

No liquids near books

That is a hard rule that I stick to, no thing hurts me more then spilling something on one of those huge hardcover books that cost an arm and a leg to replace. Not happening here. Books stay in the living room or bedroom and there are no liquids in those room, usually.

Proper transportation

We take out about 25 books each time we are at the library, so I use a huge plastic reusable shopping bag but whatever you use make sure it is waterproof. People use those crates on wheels our back backs, again follow my no liquid rule, to haul their load. I couldn’t find my regular bag one time and opted for a flimsy bag, well unbeknownst to us, my hubby had spilled some tea in the truck and there goes that brand new essential oil book that I just read. So heartbreaking when you have to pay for a brand new book and you can’t take the old one because it’s ruined.

Reduce the videos 

DVDs or other electronics cost more to replace and cost more in fines if they’re late. I do not take these out anymore unless it’s something I can’t find online or on Netflix. I usually end up with scratched up DVDs and then the kids are upset it doesn’t work  and then I have to pay for it because I forgot to renew it after the 1 week mark.

Inter library loan

Does your library have a inter library loan system, I love this. If your system of libraries doesn’t have the book you need, you can request through the ILL system and it will look elsewhere and they’ll ship you the book. This has saved me when I’ve really wanted to read a book and it’s not available at our libraries which are small. Best thing ever but it does take a bit to get your book and then you usually can’t renew it at least at my library, so plan accordingly.

Make Suggestions

If you need a book, make a suggestion for the library to purchase it and then you’ll be first in line to get it once it comes in. It never hurts to ask.

Let me know what tips you like to use for your library trips.

Also take a look at How to Buy and Sell Used Homeschool Curriculum and How to Create a Monthly Homeschool Schedule.

Follow along in my 31 Days to a Better Planned Homeschool series. 

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More homeschool planning ideas

You’ll also want to check out the other 26 bloggers in this series as well and join our Homeschool Tips 4 Moms Facebook group if you’d like to connect with other homechooling mothers.

Homeschool Curriculum Planning Template


  1. We go to the library every week (during the school year, its a “set” day of the week when I’m running errands, music lessons, etc). So its easy to take EVERYTHING back knowing all books are due on Tuesday, for example. Plus, my library has an online system called Library Elf and I have it set to send me a reminder 3 days before a book is due. That gives me time to go online and renew it, if we need it longer than the 4 weeks (we can renew 2 times for a total of 3 months for a book, unless its “new”) or find a way to get the book to library by the due date (if for some reason we aren’t going that week). We often have 100+ books checked out over 4 library cards, but I seldom pay a fine for overdue/damaged books. My kids pick their own books and those typically are returned at each trip (so just 1 week) and then the books I request stay in our “library basket” until read. The “library basket” is in the school “area” so I know I can find them. Our own books are on the shelves in that room or the bedroom shelves. Seldom have we misplaced a book… but then, there have been those 2-3 books… eventually found!
    Great ideas! Love the library!

    1. Great system! I get email notifications but they get lost in sea of emails so I have to add it to my google calendar.

  2. We use the library every week! It is sad when we have to pay for something, but usually we don’t! The biggest mistake we made was losing a Bob the Builder DVD. It cost us $27 to replace! When I left the library, I checked amazon, and the same DVD was $5 with free shipping! 🙁 we haven’t made that mistake again!

    1. I know we spilt tea on a huge hardcover book once and it was so expensive.

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