Part of homeschooling is the curriculum.
Many states require some form of it, and many homeschool teachers need it to stay on track. However, the price of some curricula is very high, making it unattainable for a lot of us. Unless, of course, you are willing to sell a kidney…so having a homeschool lending library can come in handy.
First, you need members.
Having 7-10 families with similar goals and mindset is helpful, but not required. Maybe just starting out you have 2-3 families that are willing to share some of their materials.
Each family just needs to be willing to loan out something for others to use. It can be a math book that your child has outgrown, or read alouds that you are finished with. Perhaps a unit study that you thought would work for you, but your child needs another year before they will get the most from it.
Set a place to store the materials.
It can be a common area, or each person can make a list for what they are willing to lend out, and they keep them at their own homes until needed. Both have been done in our co-op, and when we made it into a common area, the person in charge of it took off with it and opened her own homeschooling bookstore, adding in other’s curricula and new items. It was awesome to see that grow. We still keep our lending library for our small group, however.
Then, set the rules.
Our co-op had a rule that if you borrowed it, you were 100% responsible for returning it within the time frame and in the same condition. That means, you return the math book by the end of the school year, and with no pencil marks in it.
That read aloud book gets returned as soon as you are finished, and with no “doggy ears”. Common courtesy and sense apply here. If for some reason, something happened to the materials you simply replaced it.
Keep track of who borrows what.
This is where good records come into play. If Susie needs my Algebra mathbook, I can keep track of when I lent it to her and when I should get it back, just in case Molly would like to look at it as well.
You should also keep track of the condition it’s in, and each person initial that condition. That’s how friends are kept. I have seen friendships actually go awry over something as simple as a book lent out and returned in different shape. Keep the peace and note it down.
If someone is truly done with the materials, consider selling it to others.
That’s how we wound up with the homeschool bookstore. But, remember that it’s used and should be priced accordingly. And, I am sure you know this, but no making unauthorized copies of stuff to avoid purchasing your own.
It’s not honest, and it winds up hurting everyone. So, just don’t. Have fun, save some money and get to know new curricula before you commit to it! You can get a downloadable copy of what we use to keep track of our stuff here.