No matter which method you use for teaching your children, trips to the library just seem to come built into the program. Finding biographies, reading about science, listening to books on tape, and making friends of the author of some favorites - the library boasts it all.

Like everything else, we can organize our lists, and use our time wisely at the library — or we can meander and hope we find something to fit. With eight children, and a penchant for fitting the most into life I can — you can appreciate that I would search for some way to become more organized, use the library time even more efficiently, and have a good record of our readings at the end of the year.

So, how do we obtain library organization? Come along and see!

First, I go online with the library. With just a modem and a computer, I can access our library's computerized card catalog and find any book in our local library, and books I can borrow through interlibrary loan. Knowing the topics of books we need for our studies, I open up a text editor, or Excel on one side of my computer screen, and size the library catalog image to fill the other side of the screen, so I can move back and forth between the two screens. When I find a book we would like to borrow, I move to the text screen and begin making my list. There is more information given on the library screen than I need, so I copy and paste, deleting any unnecessary information.

I need the following categories: Author, Title, Location, and Call Number. For future reference, and for the next children of ours who come of age for these particular books and study, I add another category: Age – to remind me at what age a child would most be interested in this book. I also have a column titled "F/N/B" which stands for "fiction/nonfiction/biography," which is for my own personal information, since I like the children to read a variety of book genres, not just the pleasurable ones or fiction. The last category is "Order," which I check if the book needs to be ordered from another library well ahead of our need. Some library online systems have the capacity to let you request books online, while others don't. Check with your librarian to verify.

When I have located all of the books I need, I finish my online session, and concentrate on my list. At this point I usually have so many books listed that it would take me a while of walking back and forth between the shelves to find them. So, I take a few more minutes to organize my list.

First, I separate the books according to location: where will I find them in the library? Is it an adult book? Will I find it in the children's section? My categories here are very simple: Adult, Young Adult, Children, Video, Book on Tape (or CD), or Oversized. You can tell all of this information by the call number. Every library labels its books with their own system, but from the ones I've visited, the most common call number references are:

  • A meaning a book for adults
  • YA is a young adult book and is usually housed separately from the adult and children's section
  • J is for juvenile, and is a book in the children's section
  • V, AV, or VID are usual references for videos
  • CD, AC, or Aud Cass are typical for CD or audio cassettes
  • Q or O stands for "Queen" or "Oversized" books, which are taller than normal and are usually housed on lower shelves or on special shelves

So, on my computer, I arrange the books according to these locations. Going a step further, I look at the call number to see if they are a fiction book, nonfiction or a biography. Fiction books have no numbers in their "call number," only letters. They are listed by the author's last name. A book by Louisa May Alcott would be listed under Alcott. It might also be listed as "J Fic Alcott" which stands for Juvenile, Fiction and the author's last name. These get arranged alphabetically on my list.