Monday, August 13, 2012

Staying Organized on the Go: Library Books



I have yet to meet a homeschooler who didn’t love the library. And I have yet to meet a homeschooler who hasn’t contributed enough fine money to have a new wing named after her. It’s even happened to us on more than one occasion. So, what’s the solution to this conundrum?
At first, I’m inclined to shrug my shoulders. After all, once my (then) 15-year-old daughter had to pay off her own $40+ fine over time; a few months later, I found another stack of overdue library books in her possession. Notice I even said that she had to pay the fine out of her own money; the Bank of Mom does not cover library fines, no ma’am. One would think that losing an entire month’s worth of babysitting money would be an effective lesson.
Anyway, not having the answer to teenage thought processes, I’ll move onto a few more practical solutions to the library-book dilemma. Some libraries have started printing out a grocery-like receipt for library books. Instead of sticking used gum in it at the bottom of your purse, put it on the fridge next to the family calendar. Then, go the next step and make a notation on the calendar date that the books are due.
Writing the due date on the calendar can happen even if you don’t have a receipt for the books. If you have more than one or two books, you can make your own list. If the kids are old enough, they can help by making their own lists for the books that they checked out, or the books that are specifically for their use. Again, post this list in a visible spot.
Another idea that I employed while my children were younger is to have a central spot for all library books: a basket, a box, a milk crate, or a separate shelf on the bookshelves. Library books had to live in the designated spot unless they were actually being read. Of course, I had to remind my kids many, many times before they caught onto the idea of returning their library books to the right spot when they were finished with them for the day.
When we grew out of the central-location-for-all-library-books idea, we moved onto each girl keeping all of her library books in her own library bag in her room. They each have several bags from summer reading programs, and I figured we may as well get good use out of them. That idea still works pretty well . . . except when it doesn’t (exhibit A from a few paragraphs ago).
Another option is using an online program to track your library books. Some libraries actually have their own computerized system that will email a reminder when your books are due. For the rest of us, a quick Google search netted me a bunch of returns when I typed in “online library books due.” I’m sure similar searches would produce more results for software or online programs to help you keep track of your library books and their due dates.
Of course, a program is only as good as its follow through. The same goes for the other ideas I’ve mentioned for keeping track of library books and due dates: they’re no good if you don’t physically return the books to the library when they are due (or renew them online).

Q4U: How do you keep your library books organized?