It is no secret that libraries are homeschoolers’ best friends. Homeschool families take on a multitude of challenges and expenses to meet the needs of their children. For many families, libraries can help take the brunt of some of those costs. However, libraries today are more than just brick-and-mortar buildings where we can check out books and materials. Many libraries also offer online services through apps and websites for additional access to ebooks, audiobooks, movies, music, and much more. This makes libraries an even greater resource to homeschooling families than ever before!
Common Library Programs and Apps
Libraries worldwide use various programs and apps to deliver ebooks, audiobooks, and more to their patrons. The two most common that you will see available are Overdrive and Hoopla.
- Overdrive is the most common ebook and audiobook program used by libraries. You can access it online as well as through their Libby app. It works like checking a library book out at the physical library. You are allowed a set amount to check out and typically can keep the materials for two weeks (some libraries allow for longer times). You can also place holds on items not currently available and recommend titles you want to read.
- Hoopla is also a popular choice because it offers no wait time for the materials you want! No more waitlists! You can instantly borrow movies, ebooks, and more with your library card. Each library system will have a cap at home many they allow a month.
These are just a couple of the various programs out there that your library might use. So how do you know what your local library offers? Give them a call, stop in as ask or find them online. Each branch has information on all the different extras they have available.
Non-Resident Library Cards: E-books And More
Are you using your local library but still need more? Many smaller local libraries have lost their funding over the years and while it is always important to donate and help your local library succeed, you may need more resources to supplement what you have available.
Try an out-of-state library membership!
Free library cards for non-residents are hard to come by; however, a few libraries across the United States offer out-of-state memberships for a small annual fee. Did you know this was a thing? I didn’t realize this until recently when we found we needed more variety and resources. Especially with audiobooks, we tend to fly through those on road trips and enjoy listening to them during art time. Check out the list below of libraries that offer non-resident library cards for e-books and more!
- Fairfax County Public Library: For only $27 annually, you can access the Fairfax County Public Library’s online resources and access ebooks and audiobooks through Overdrive.
- Charlotte Mecklenburg Library: A yearly membership fee of $45 allows you to use the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s ebooks and audiobooks through Overdrive, Hoopla, and NCKids. You also get access to free music from Hoopla and Freegal.
- Chapel Hill Public Library: Offers an out-of-state library card for $65 a year. This gives you access to Overdrive and NCKids Collection.
- Monroe County Library: For $25 per year, you can have access to Monroe County Library in New York. This will get you access to their Overdrive account.
- Queens Public Library: Get access to the e-materials offered by the Queens Public library for an annual fee of $50. With your card, you will have access to research databases, E-journals, digital media, and downloads.
- Houston Public Library: Non-residents may obtain a library card for $40 annually or $20 for 6 months and get access to Overdrive, Hoopla, TumbleBooks, ComicsPlus, Kanopy, and more.
- Enoch Pratt Free Library: For an annual fee of $50, non-Maryland residents can still enjoy access to books, e-books, audiobooks, DVDs, and other materials in the Pratt Library’s physical collection.
- Orange County Library System: The most expensive membership of $125 for a year opens up an extensive amount of Orange County Library System to you. This membership gives you e-magazines, ebooks, music, video, and audiobooks from Overdrive, Freading, axis360, ePulp, RBdigital, Kanopy, Freegal, Hoopla, Tumblebooks, and TeenBookCloud plus other databases available online.
- Mercantile Library: “We are home to the oldest public art collection in the city of Cincinnati.” Anyone can join; memberships start at $30 for student cars.
- The New York Society Library: For $100 a year, you can have limited privileges to the library’s online e-materials.
- Redwood Library & Athenæum: “The Redwood Library & Athenæum will continue to be one of the leading cultural institutions in Southern New England, producing programming of the highest rigor— lectures, exhibitions, musical performances—in addition to promoting historical research. With an equal devotion to the visual and the literary, as well as to the necessary dialogue between history and contemporary culture, Redwood’s preeminent position is the result of the breadth and intellectual value of its programming and collections, exemplifying the belief that the humanities can empower all citizens to create a better world.” Memberships start at $30 for a student card.
This list is ever-changing, and there may be more out there, so ask around online and in your homeschool support groups. Hopefully, you will find one to meet your family’s needs and expand your available digital library resources!
Additional Related Homeschool Content
How to Homeschool Using Only the Library
Summer Slide: Avoid Reading Skill Loss