Monday, August 17, 2015

A Day in the Life of a Librarian

Often when the conversation of operating a library in my home arises, I get variations of the following comments...

"You have a your house??"

"You mean people come to your house to check out books?"

"What do you DO with 18,000 books?!?"

Occasionally I'm conversing with someone who wishes to do this crazy thing called "operating a private library" in her home and are trying to wrap her brain around the logistics of such an undertaking.

I thought I'd take a little time and share what our lives look like as we go about the business of sharing our treasures with 30+ families in our community.

My library hours are always posted in the right hand column of this blog. Patrons check their due dates with my schedule and plan their visit. On library days, we get up and milk cows and other farm chores. My boys begin asking almost immediately, "Who's coming to the library today?" They begin making plans based on my answer (getting ball equipment together, for example.)  We have breakfast and I go over their schoolwork based on how busy I expect to be. Patrons are asked to let me know if they're coming. If the day will be light, we might be able to get in a semi-regular school day. If the day will be insane, I leave a list on the fridge to be completed independently. I also leave a self-serve lunch with instructions to bring me a few crackers or something around mid-day.

Before the library opens, I make sure I have paper in the printer for check-out sheets, swipe over the bathroom and check essentials like soap and toilet paper (those practical things...), maybe run the vacuum.  I pull the check-out sheets of those whom I'm expecting as well as any books that have been requested.

Families come and go during the day with lots of chatter, laughter, encouragement, sometimes a few tears as burdens are confided.  The children enjoy telling me about their favorite reads during the past month.  They make their rounds among the shelves starting piles of volumes that may become treasured friends.  Moms ask for my picks of books of various topics and time periods.  Books are checked in and checked out, packed in totes and sent out the door.

After the library closes for the day, the fun begins.  Reshelving the hundreds of books that are returned in an average library day can take hours a week.  If my week is particularly crazy, I may not get it done at all, in which case piles of books accumulate on the book cases and the floor.  Families don't seem to mind as they sift through the piles to see what has been returned that they might enjoy themselves.

So you may it worth it?

My answer is definitely...yes!

Yes, it can be stressful.  Yes, it's often back-breaking work.  Yes, I have no money to spare because I'm always buying books.  But seeing lives enriched, relationships formed, and the excitement of children and families who are being touched by story is worth all the sacrifice.

If you're on the fence about starting a library of your own, don't hesitate.  Your life won't be the same.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

In Awe of Dirt

This past Saturday I was privileged to attend a seminar by my friend, Nicole, of Sabbath Mood Homeschool blog.  Nicole is becoming well known in the Charlotte Mason community for her encouragement to study science using Charlotte's methods.  Even though I have been homeschooling for nearly 20 years with Charlotte's philosophy and have a son who is finishing up an engineering degree, I was inspired and encouraged to expand my vision for the sciences for my younger boys.  I have not been as diligent with these two in seriously studying the world around us in an intentional way. 

One of the things that convicted me was this quote by Charlotte...

"Where science does not teach a child to wonder and admire it has perhaps no educative value." 

Was our science teaching us to wonder and admire?

Then I remembered this quote by Charlotte...

"Children should be brought up, too, to perceive that a miracle is not less a miracle because it occurs so constantly and regularly that we call it a law; that sap rises in a tree, that a boy is born with his uncle's eyes, that an answer that we can perceive comes to our serious prayers; these things are not less miracles because they happen frequently or invariably, and because we have ceased to wonder about them."

Have we ceased to wonder about those things that happen frequently?  The sun rises each morning.  We see the stars at night.  We breathe and our hearts beat.  Do we consider these as the miracles they are?

I decided to choose for our special study this term a humble topic, something that we take utterly for granted.  As I was browsing Nicole's site for ideas, I came upon this recent post.  That was it!  DIRT!  We'll add to that her rocks and minerals suggestions as well.  The miracle of the ground beneath our feet should fill us with awe of our Creator who has supplied us with many of the componenents necessary to sustain life in the soil.  We are looking forward to our study.

I've begun pulling the books I have on these topics and ordering more.  These include, among others:

How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World by Faith McNulty

Life in a Bucket Soil by Alvin Silverstein

The Soil that Feeds Us by Eleanor Heady

Rocks and How We Use Them by Tillie Pine

Rocks and Minerals by Illa Podendorf

These, in addition to a field guide and experiement suggestions, will help us marvel at the miracle of dirt.  I hope, as the new school year gets underway, you will choose a topic to teach your children to wonder and admire.