Should (or would?) home schooling families pay a small fee for public library access?

The Allen County Public Library has changed the number of holds available to patrons to five per card. … The library is a support system to our at-home curriculum. … The usage of the library hold system to find and retrieve books needed for such curriculums has been a truly valuable resource.

I understand the need to curtail mounting expenses, but the move from an unlimited number of holds to five per card is too drastic. I believe home educators would even pay an annual educator card for the ACPL to allow greater holds …



  1. #1 Carlie
    May 24, 2008

    I think this is absolutely fair, whether you’re talking about homeschoolers or not. Holds mean that no one else gets the chance to read that particular book, and the whole point of a library is to provide access to everyone. Placing holds on too many books is in effect turning the place into your own personal library. I feel the same way about renewals – one is quite enough. Maybe the limit could be raised to 10 or so, but then again one shouldn’t really have holds on too many books at one time, since ideally people would be cycling through them. Put five holds on, get those, put five more on hold. I doubt anyone would be reading more than five books at once anyway. (NO, you’re not. There would be at least a couple of days reading the first five, so you could ask for the new holds while you’re reading the old ones.)

  2. #2 memyrald
    May 24, 2008

    Wow, that was my library system growing up :). Every member of my family were huge readers, and each of us would check out upwards of 10 books at a time(we couldn’t make it to the library all that often). By “holds” are we talking about holds placed on books, or checking them out? If they mean holds, I agree on a limit. But this is a public library, so not being able to check out more than five would be rediculous.

  3. #3 greg laden
    May 24, 2008

    Looking at the original posting, I wonder if this is a matter of “checking out” or “holding” a particular set of textbooks rather than buying them. Is that the case?

  4. #4 Carlie
    May 24, 2008

    From the libraries I’ve known, “holds” are what you do when you want to be the next person to get the book if someone else has it checked out. So, as soon as the book is in the library’s hands (either by being returned, or, in the case of new books, is catalogued) it goes straight to you first. If the person who has it checked out tries to renew the book, they aren’t allowed to because a hold has been placed on it. New bestsellers can be out of available circulation for months due to hold wait lists.

  5. #5 Bob
    May 25, 2008

    Splitting hairs: I have no problem limiting the maximum holds an arbitrary patron can make; I do have a problem if you’re singling out homeschoolers.

    Don’t misconstrue this as a defense of homeschooling – the issue is preserving access to a scarce resource (books) in a patron-neutral fashion. I don’t want librarians in the job of granting or limiting access on arbitrary criteria or even knowing who borrows what, provided they can prevent material loss. My guess is that librarians don’t want this role either.

    Now if a minority of patrons is monopolizing a few books for whatever reason it’s in the library’s interest to limit holds to allow books to circulate to the general borrower community. Using that criteria, the reason for excessive holds is irrelevant and not even considered – the behavior, not the intent is what matters.

    I love libraries but I can’t use them as it takes me months to finish some books (I’ve been reading “Gödel-Escher-Bach” going on two decades.) In the long run, it’s cheaper for me to buy books than to borrow them.

  6. #6 JanieBelle
    May 25, 2008

    It’s a public library. It’s there for the public.

    It’s not a “homeschoolers’ library”.

    Five to a customer is plenty. Quit yer bitchin’.

  7. #7 JanieBelle
    May 25, 2008


    Maybe if you’d have gone to public school, you’d have learned how to share.

  8. #8 greg laden
    May 25, 2008

    I have no problem limiting the maximum holds an arbitrary patron can make; I do have a problem if you’re singling out homeschoolers.

    I didn’t. This (and the subsequently mentioned issues regarding sharing, etc.) is why I pointed out this article written by somebody else!!!

    I would think that the answer to the question, by the way, would related to how libraries are funded. I do think this is a public library, as opposed to a school libary.

  9. #9 JanieBelle
    May 25, 2008

    Greg, my comments sound like they were directed at you, but they weren’t meant to be. (YOU weren’t the one bitching.)

    Apologies for that. It was late, I was tired, cranky, and not proofreading before posting or I might have caught the lack of clarity.

    Plus, I went to public school, and that’s my excuse for just about any situation.


  10. #10 greg laden
    May 25, 2008


    Right, I understand, thanks. Blogs can be so confusing.

  11. #11 Brian X
    May 25, 2008

    I don’t really see how it can be justified. I think the homeschooling advocate here thinks she’s got a point, but what she and those of like mind really need is a private lending library just for homeschoolers. It’s like a situation that popped up on Wikipedia about a year ago — a contributor with a rather high (and not particularly flattering) profile in the tech world attempted to buy a perpetual right to edit from the Wikimedia Foundation by way of a large donation. (It is also, interestingly, very close to the debate over net neutrality, which is also about buying access.)

    She needs to have it explained to her that the whole point of a public library is that no one needs to — or can — buy access. A collective of local homeschoolers would fit her needs far more than a cash-strapped public library. (What’s the chapter in Acts where the early Christians held everything in common?)

  12. #12 JanieBelle
    May 27, 2008

    Yeah Greg, mostly because you can’t hear my voice or see me gesticulate, and I sometimes forget that little fact. It sounds perfectly reasonable in my head though…

    I think Brian articulated what I was trying to say, much more eloquently and clearly than I obviously did. (I was giving the home-school lady the finger, if that helps.)

    Plus, as I mentioned, I was tired and cranky, and that’s never a good mindset for blog commenting.

  13. #13 Greg Laden
    May 27, 2008


    From now on I’ll try very hard to imagine the gesticuations!

  14. #14 Dawn
    May 28, 2008

    Brian X – The homeschool lending libraries I’ve seen do a good job of offering curriculum but that’s really not what homeschoolers are generally looking for at a library. I’m thinking that a homeschooling mom who’s concerned with holds may be doing a unit or literature study in a month and they need a half dozen or so books on the subject. If they’re doing a first grade unit on bees they may need a poetry book, a couple of science books, a craft book and a few story books. Those are exactly the kind of resources the library is there to provide and a small co-op library would find to diverse (and so, expensive) to provide.

    I find a lot of what’s going on with homeschoolers and libraries interesting. I’ve read articles of libraries that construct programs that reach out to homeschoolers, even some that build kits for those unit studies I mentioned before (there’s a different solution – instead of a hold on a bunch of books, just one hold on a kit). My feeling on that is that what helps homeschoolers will likely benefit school kids and parents as well by creating new programs and ways of using the resources they provide.

  15. #15 Crimson Wife
    May 31, 2008

    Why don’t the libraries simply charge a fee for each hold request? That’s what my library does. It’s only $0.75 per item, but that can add up quickly for heavy users…

  16. #16 Ann E
    June 2, 2008

    I think having a holds system is great….however, limiting the number to 5 is ridiculous. I am a voracious reader and also belong to a book club. I think limiting the amount of holds is definitely fair, but 5, not so good. Ten would be more reasonable. If I really want a book and can’t wait for it, I will go buy it.

    I think the Allen County Public Library gave the appearance in being underhanded in how they went about implementing the change. There was no public input, didn’t see where it was discussed at Board of Trustees meeting, no notification to patrons, and no explanation to patrons. Nada. Zilch. I think I heard a collective cheer come from the local booksellers when ACPL implemented their policy.