I will quite likely never forget the day my girls and I were having our usual library visit when I overheard a mother tell her child, “No honey, you can only check out two books — we need to leave some here for the other kids”. I then proceeded to hide behind the nearest book shelf with my several tote bags FULL of that day’s selections.

I recently spoke to two separate friends and fellow homeschool moms about their library lending habits and discovered what might have been the real reason behind that mama’s one book rule: fines and lost books. The first of my friends that I spoke to is as big a book lover as I am, but limits the number of books out for her household to around 25, and the other friend had put the kibosh on library books completely for her family! This was such a surprise to me, as she is the most organized person I know!

I am not a super organized person, nor am I a planner. I’m typically a “fly by the seat of my pants” kinda gal, which incidentally has not always served me well. My cupboards are often full and overflowing, my kitchen counters are by no means clear and uncluttered and our house most certainly looks lived in.  For the most part though, I’m ok with that.

The up to 100 books, CDs, and DVDs we often have checked out from the library at the same time?

Not a problem.

We’ve never lost a single one, and our library fines are not out of control either. I’m here to tell you, if I can do it, you can too (but maybe just start with 50 books though, ok? For the sake of those poor children who show up to the library and discover they are completely out of books).

This is my simple system for ensuring no lost books and a fairly modest amount in library fines:

I keep a designated library bag accessible to collect books that we are finished with. This bag hangs on the doorknob of our front hall closet and is ready to go to the library.

Using the Library in your homeschool without spending a fortune in fines



I have two large baskets for library books in our living room. One is for the more learning/school specific books, the other for all of my children’s other library selections. It is not mandatory that all the books be kept in the baskets, and the children are free to bring books to their room and read them in bed, but it does encourage them to do most of their reading in that room and makes it less likely that the library books will get all mixed up with our own books. It is also the first place we look when a book is due or we need to find it ASAP.



I make a weekly library visit, and always on the same day of the week. This is important because then all our books are always due on the same day of the week.  I only need to check once for the whole week to be sure that we don’t accrue fines. On the morning of that day, I log into our library website and make a list of all the books that are due that day that can’t be renewed. Then I give the list to my oldest and tell her to round them up, which she can usually do without any assistance from me. Once in a while Mama’s super human searching power is required to locate a book that has somehow found itself under a bed or at the bottom of the toy box.

So that’s it! Have a handy place to collect books that you are finished with and to transport them back to the library, store the books that you are still using in a designated place, and make a weekly trip to the library to renew, return, and checkout books.

Over a 1000 items checked out in a year, all for less than $10 in library fines!

If you’d like to hear more about how we make the most of the public library in our homeschool, check out How We Homeschool: Using the Library.

How to use the library without paying a fortune in fines. A couple of simple, easy, and effective ways for homeschoolers to stay on top of their library books and stay organized!

Do you have any tips for keeping library fines under control? What is the largest library fine you’ve had to pay?

Check out how the other members of the Canadian Homeschool Bogging Team are Getting Their Homeschools Organized! And if you haven’t checked out the Canadian Homeschooler’s Facebook event, Organize Your Homeschool in 20ish Days,  it’s not too late hop on over and check it out!

The Canadian Homeschool Blogging Team

Living and Learning at Home

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