‘SAVING OUR HOMESCHOOL LIBRARY’

Recently the River Region homeschool community pulled together to not only save our homeschool
library, but to expand it to two locations that will offer more services. Thank you, Erin, for your
interest in learning more about our happenings and your desire to perhaps spark similar projects in
other parts of the state.

About two weeks ago, we learned that the church which had hosted the homeschool library and
curriculum exchange for several years had decided to terminate both the homeschool and the church
library. We had to either take responsibility to relocate the thousands of volumes within a 10-day
deadline, or lose the library. We were welcome to the church library as well, on the same basis.

Almost as soon as I posted the need on our library group and in the regional homeschool groups,
people began to respond. Right away, a family offered to store the ENTIRE LIBRARY if need be, in
order to safeguard this resource for our homeschool community. Thus, I was able to respond, “Yes,
we will take responsibility for relocating the libraries by the deadline.”

Other families began checking with their churches and even with other churches. A young mom
provisionally arranged to rent a building to host the library as part of a homeschool center.
Meanwhile, several homeschool moms and teens began the arduous task of packing up hundreds (?)
of boxes of books and preparing shelves for transport. We didn’t actually count the boxes, so I can’t
give you an exact number, but I can say we filled, moved, and unloaded four pick-up loads, three
SUV’s, one van, three smaller trailers, and one BIG trailer load. Homeschool moms, a dad, multiple
teens, and several graduates all pitched in to help. One grad delivered several rounds of sturdy boxes
from his job at Chikfila. Little by little, the doors swung open. We even completed the relocation a
day early! My prayer that 1) God would be glorified and 2) that this would lead to “more” for the
homeschool library was more than answered:

If you are in the River Region, ask to join the following Facebook group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2343633949064189 where you will be able to connect with the
new branches and organizers:

1. The Homeschool Curriculum Exchange and Independent Learner Library will be opening
soon in Wetumpka at Grace Baptist Church near Fort Toulouse, under the direction of a
retired homeschool mom and and a homeschool family whose graduate son has pledged to
catalog and help organize the materials. This site includes much of the erstwhile church
library and Christian fiction and resource books, as well as a roomful of curriculum. The
church has made available a beautiful easily-accessed room for the library on a trial basis at
no cost. Patronizing the library will demonstrate to the host that our homeschool community
values and appreciates this resource, thus allowing it to continue.

2. Classics, general fiction for all ages and general resource books will be available in eastern
Montgomery near the Chantilly exit. The homeschool family who is storing them also plans
to catalog the materials and soon have them available by appointment for check-out. They
hope to either locate a larger climate-controlled host, or perhaps even add on to their own
place. (If you know of a good spot, please get in touch.)

3. Meanwhile, homeschool youth desiring to volunteer will have the opportunity to be involved,
learn skills, and earn service hours. PLEASE PRAY for the families who have graciously
taken on this opportunity to serve the homeschool community.

4. If you would like to organize a neighborhood kiosk, pick-up site, or even a whole other
branch, get in touch. With all the materials catalogued, it will be easier to connect materials
with users. Also, Erin reports that some thrift stores, such as Goodwill, are currently willing
to donate books to groups such as ours.

3. Meanwhile, homeschool youth desiring to volunteer will have the opportunity to be involved,
learn skills, and earn service hours. PLEASE PRAY for the families who have graciously
taken on this opportunity to serve the homeschool community.

4. If you would like to organize a neighborhood kiosk, pick-up site, or even a whole other
branch, get in touch. With all the materials catalogued, it will be easier to connect materials
with users. Also, Erin reports that some thrift stores, such as Goodwill, are currently willing
to donate books to groups such as ours.

The Backstory & Reasons Why:

As a homeschool mom and currently, homeschool grandmother, books have been central to our home
education journey throughout the years. Our family began our homeschooling journey while
overseas, with limited access to books in English. As a lifelong reader and literature major, even
before I ran across literature-based curriculums, I loved to incorporate reading out loud into our daily
lives. During our first term overseas, I would scrounge books from the library at the high school
where my husband taught. I remember my children (ranging from age 2 to 7 at the time) listening
with varying attention spans to Reader’s Digest books about zoo vets and journeys across the
Atlantic in home-built boats. We also read classics such as Swiss Family Robinson (the “real”
version), Robinson Crusoe, A Little Princess, and less known tales like Children of the New Forest
and a host of others, both biographical and fictional. Gerald Durrell’s series beginning with My
Family and Other Animals was a favorite. One advantage of reading aloud is you can edit the
language to your children’s level as you go. I wanted my children to learn to read deeply and
experience life through others’ points of view. As a one-salary family in ministry, we were
perennially on a tight budget, so libraries were important to us.

The Beginning of the River Region Homeschool Library:

As we would travel back to the U.S., I noticed a disturbing trend. It seemed the public libraries were
getting rid of their best books to make room for contemporary works, which overall seemed ever
more shallow and dumbed-down. Whenever possible, I would buy up library discards and quality
used books at thrift stores and either ship them overseas or store them Stateside. I especially loved
sharing books that had been meaningful in my childhood, while books such as Boedie Thoene’s
series helped us process historical periods and challenges.

Meanwhile, it was hard not to envy my sister in Lynchburg, VA, whose homeschool community
benefited from a wonderful homeschool library hosted by a local church. Every week her children
looked forward to library day, when families converged on the library to check out and return a wide
variety of books geared to homeschoolers, with no subject check-out limit or tight due dates or
overwhelming fines for families that missed turning in all those books they borrowed during their
unit on the solar system or pioneer days.

About four years ago, I volunteered to organize our church library, which had fallen into disarray. In
addition to grouping the materials by category and stamping books, I added a number of volumes
both from our personal collection and from local book sales. As our children were growing up and
graduating, I looked at our bookshelves and realized it would be years before our grandchildren-to come might want to read them.

Meanwhile, other families could benefit from access to the materials.
One of the Sunday School teachers at our church (also a homeschool mom) allowed us to use the
shelves in her room for curriculum. Becky Rod of Becky’s Porch Swing generously donated
duplicates from her homeschool curriculum shop. Local families gave, and soon the room was
overflowing with materials, available for self-service check-out for the length of time a family
needed them. More recently, we switched to an exchange system. Families needing curriculum could
take whatever was helpful, while families finished with materials had a good place to drop them off.
However, we never had the time or manpower to enter all the resources on a data base, which limited
the effectiveness.

In the beginning, our church hosted a number of homeschool activities, including a co-op, music
lessons, dance classes, and band. Often families would check out items at the library while they were
already there. Eventually we added shelves for literature and supplemental reading books for children
through college ages. I hoped eventually to be able to offer all the books on the lists of literature

based curriculums such as Sonlight, Heart of Dakota, and My Father’s World. We also stocked up on
family board games, hobby books, and supplemental equipment like microscopes.

Unfortunately, while the COVID crisis increased the need for access to resources, especially with
many families thrown into homeschooling due to school shutdowns, in response to the happenings
and an outbreak among church members, our church basically shut down as well. Many of the
homeschool activities ceased and have not resumed. Families did not know when/if they could still
access the library, and with overflowing shelves and boxes, we could no longer accept donations for
some months. About two weeks ago, I received a phone call that the church had decided to repurpose the rooms. Having missed an earlier e-mail, I had only two hours to notify them if we would
take responsibility to relocate ALL the library books (every single one of the thousands of volumes)
or have the church dispose of the materials.

Why work to maintain print books in a digital age?

1. Relying on screens has a number of drawbacks and even health consequences. The younger
the children, the more vulnerable their eyes and even brain development are to damage. The
pace and interaction of reading is well- suited to the emotional development of children as
well.

2. For many, there is just something about handling a book that doesn’t happen with a device.
And do you really want to risk dropping your Kindle in the bathtub? Books can go with you
just about anywhere, and you don’t have to worry about using up the battery.

3. Technology is vulnerable to breakdown, either on a minor scale (power outages, for
instance) or major (societal breakdown, EMP, whatever…)
4. If you are familiar with works such as George Orwell’s 1984, it is easy to envision how
vulnerable digital versions are to change and censorship. Keeping print copies available
helps maintain the integrity of the works.

5. In-hand copies of classics may soon provide our children’s only access to wisdom, history,
and works of the ages. Historic authors such as Laura Ingalls Wilder and Mark Twain’s
books are being deleted from libraries and collections and may not continue to be available
for online purchase. Ironically, a critical analysis of these authors shows sensitivity and the
value of those of other races long before it was popular (are you familiar with Twain’s novel
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson about the switch of a slave woman’s and the master’s son
soon after birth?)

–Beth Greenawalt, March 3, 2021

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