Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lending Library Start Up - Learning While in the Trenches

Some of the boxes for the lending library. Before they get checked out for the first time, we are going back through and switching the paper labels to permanent marker...we are keeping them with paper tabs until they are ready to walk out the door in case we end up breaking the boxes into smaller bins or in case we decide to tweak any of the themes, etc.
These boxes are waiting to be cataloged.
Sheets we put all around our home as we organized things into categories. Using these made it possible for Dear Hubby to help with the sorting.
This is the rough draft of the form we are using with the lending library.
We tried to highlight the fact that the lending library is set up with The Golden Rule in mind...we are hoping that if something gets lost, broken, or stolen, that people will do the right thing and will try to repair or replace the item.
We wrote this disclaimer of sorts inside all of the lids. All of the lids already had imprinted warnings regarding the potential for suffocation if children or pets were to lay in the bin, so we felt that that warning from the manufacturer was sufficient...
please keep in mind that we are not attorneys. We just tried to do what we felt was most prudent and safe.


Well, it has been nearly one week since I got the official ball rolling with the lending library.
It is going well, but it has taken way more time and organization than maybe I was expecting...

On more than one occasion, Big Bro and Little Bro have asked when this whole lending library thing is gonna wrap up, as they would like to have more face time with their Mommy.
Am still trying to do a decent job of presenting lessons, organizing materials, spending quality time with the boys and Dear Hubby, and laundry, housework / mommy duties...but it has been a workout, to be sure...

Would love a laundry fairy to fall from the sky to help so that I could just crank at getting the remainder of the work done for the library idea. Either that or else would just love one of those professional organizers to come and help make this a more efficient set up.

To some extent, this lending library has taken on a life of its own...but now, just working on taming it and making it more manageable.
Still believe from the bottom of my heart that the benefits will outweigh the start up pains...we will see...
So, from still in the trenches of set up, here are a few things I am learning along the way, in case anyone out there is contemplating doing this in their area:

First, before you really do anything else, you need to do the following:

1. Go through and organize your materials by theme.
You can either work from a more global sort of theme, down to more specific ones, or else, the other way around...
I have been working from more global themes and then, narrowing the bins down to make them more manageable.
For example, I started with farm...
I am now breaking this down into around the farm / fall harvest, horses (as I have enough materials to make this a stand alone theme), baby animals / Easter...
It just makes it a little easier all the way around...

2. As you are organizing, if there is something that you would be just crushed if it got lost, damaged, or broken while being borrowed, then put it aside and do not include it in your lending library.
Some things have sentimental value more so than monetary value so you should not include them. For example, I have a little stuffed animal whale that I normally include with sea life work. It is from a beloved, deceased uncle. Even though I could probably easily replace it with another whale stuffed animal, since it was from him, I left it out of the lending library bin.
I hadn't really given the whole sentimental value idea a thought until my husband posed the question " Will you be upset or disappointed if anything you plan to lend out gets lost or ruined"?
Food for thought...even though we all try to be less materialistic, if it has some deeper meaning for whatever reason, do not lend it out.

3. As for materials with real monetary value, we had to decide what we could feasibly afford to replace.
For this reason, most of our family's wooden Montessori materials, such as maps, constructive triangles, knobless cylinders, binomial cube, pink tower, etc. are not part of the lending library.

We have also left out things with copyrights that could be an issue, such DVDs and such...not a lawyer, but remember from when I was a kid, that there used to be this place in Erie, PA called Maxwell's Video Showcase...for young people growing up in the 70s and 80s, it was awesome. This was before any of us owned a VCR, and before there was anything on television with the exception of after school specials and Saturday morning cartoons.
They had videos for children that you could watch in a little room. Your parents would pay for these rooms and you could have free popcorn and free soda while you watched your movie.
It was such a treat! A special occasion sort of thing!
So fun to get to watch a children's movie like Benji or something with popcorn and pop, with just you and a couple of friends. This was considered to be an extremely cool place to go, but the parents loved it because it had the feeling of being extremely safe, that their children were in good hands there.
They charged a few dollars for the rooms, so maybe this was the issue...but they got into BIG trouble for showing videos without permission to show them in this sort of setting.
So, to avoid any issues at all, we have left any DVDs, CDs, that sort of thing out...we have also left anything handmade or otherwise that is copyright protected, such as items we purchased from others in the Montessori community, like the lovely pink, green, and blue series I bought, etc.

So, as far as Montessori items, what will we include in our lending library?
Most likely:
Some of our three part cards that I have made, not those from others, unless the person who made them for me gives me express permission to place a copy in the lending library, extension activities, lesson presentations, wooden trays, spoons, tongs, child sized basters for water transfer, small ceramic bowls, etc.

4. Then, the fun begins...cataloging each and every item in our bins.
While cataloging, go through and make sure that our name is on all of the materials. We went with a thick permanent marker and wrote our family's name on each item. Looks a little clunky, but figured that it would be easier for folks to remember if it is something that they had borrowed if they see our name on the item.

5. We then had to check to see that everything has all of its pieces and is in good working order.

6. Then, we wrote at least the name of the item on a master list and then, ranked it from excellent to acceptable - gently used condition.

7. I am not a lawyer, nor is my hubby, but we decided to include a disclaimer / hold harmless agreement written inside each lid of the lending bin stating that we are not liable if a pet or child were to be injured due to borrowing the materials, as some of the materials may contain small parts. We wrote the statement on each lid in permanent marker and then, we typed up a statement of terms of agreement for the lending library for folks to sign who are borrowing the materials.

Am probably going to expand this to say something more specifically that the materials being borrowed are for personal use only and are not for resale or reprint of any kind.
We went on the assumption that folks from our homeschool co-op will already realize that they cannot resell / reprint anything they borrow, but just for clarity's sake, we are going to add a little more clarification.

8. We had to decide the length that people can borrow the materials. For starters, we went with two weeks to one month. We may adjust this, depending on how this goes...

9. We are planning on making a database to keep track of the status of items. If we get something together that works well for us and you decide to do something similar, i will gladly share it with you.

10. With respect to foreign language, instead of doing the bins by theme, we did them by specific language and then, by level: Spanish - Intro., Intermediate, Advanced and then French - Intro., Intermediate, Advanced.

11. As we have been going through to set up the lending library, it has also been a good time to purge anything that is no longer in decent shape, etc.
Again, this adds to the workload but hopefully, it will make it better in the long run.

12. Also started to keep a "Replacements Needed" list...found out that we were missing:
a whistle, a spinning top, a felt letter A, and a metric ruler.

So, so far, so good....just way more time to organize the whole project and to do it on top of homeschooling, regular family routine cooking / cleaning / laundry. etc. and then, complicated by the fact that Little Bro and I have both been fighting sinus infections...yes, it has been a little overwhelming at times.

But, hopefully, it will be well worth it. Homeschooling is an expensive endeavor. Homeschooling using Montessori materials and other hands on materials is expensive and time consuming.
so, hopefully, this lending library will lighten someone's load. And as an added bonus, Dear Hubby is gaining some much needed space to work on his train set.

That has been the fun part...watching him work on the trains and the scenery is a much less cramped work space / garage...


Heidi said...

Wow! I would love to see some pictures when you are finished with the organization!

Mommy Moment said...

Wow, you sure have been working hard. I wish I lived closer so I could take part in this. Oh the fun we would have!
Thanks for all your lovely posts! Thanks for taking the time to share this with us!

Kylie said...

I can imagine the job it must be, that is the one reason why I haven't tackled it yet, far too daunting.

Thanks for sharing your journey with it though, looking forward to more posts and would love to some pics. :)

The Sunshine Crew said...

Thanks for the supportive feedback, ladies. I have posted some photos of our work in progress.

We are happy to announce our gifted pilot program starting Fall of 2014!

We are happy to announce our gifted pilot program starting Fall of 2014!
***This program is for residents of Florida only...

More Gifted Program Details!

More Gifted Program Details!
Sunrise Learning Lab™ and its Gifted Pilot Program belong to Colleen Murray Bowers. © 2014 Colleen Murray Bowers.

  © Sunrise Learning Lab™ Updated-Copyrighted-Owned-Trademarked by ©Colleen Murray Bowers Sunrise Learning Lab™ Note: Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates orignally assisted with original blog template but has NO RIGHTS WHATSOEVER to this blog.

Back to TOP