Posted by: angiefm | October 14, 2009

Using the Libraries

This was a reply I wrote in response to a question on the Singapore Homeschool Group’s YahooGroup on how to find good books at the library.

When we started homeschooling, Alethea was 4 years 3 months old, in her K1 year and I knew that homeschoolers were known for camping out at their local libraries, but I didn’t know what to borrow.  So …

The first thing I did was go to get myself a good book list.  I used a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to keep track and had columns for title, author, call number and library branch.  I looked up and copied the Year 0 booklist.  They are LOVELY!  Then I added to the list the Five In A Row books from, the books from Sonlight’s Pre K and K levels from, and from Veritas Press’ Kindergarten level from

I then went to the National Library website at and searched for the titles.  I entered the call number and the branch where the books were available into my spreadsheet.  I only went to a few libraries near where we were staying then – Ang Mo Kio, Sengkang, Woodlands, Sembawang.

Then every week before I headed for the library, I would filter the list (I know … this get complicated, ha ha) to show which books we had not borrowed and which were available in the library I was going to, print off 40 records with their titles, authors and call numbers, then make a quick dash to the library to look for the books.  I always went with double the number of titles than we were allowed to borrow because there would be some on loan or worse still, not on loan but nowhere to be found on the shelves. 

I know it sounds like a lot of work, but I did what I could on my computer at home so that my time at the library was spent more efficiently.  I had 3 kids at the time, and Nathalie was a baby, so I couldn’t spend too much time hanging about in libraries!  I ended up favouring Sembawang over the others, because even though it is a smaller library, they are SO NEAT it’s like walking into a bookshop.  Different titles by the same author are together, as are multiple copies of the same title.  Amazing!  (That was 4 years ago.  Not sure if it’s still like that.)  I ended up writing numerous compliment letters to the library and the staff knew me quite well and would help search for books for me. 

Later on I went on to add Caldecott winners, and books from,,, etc.  My spreadsheet got more complex as I added a column for subject and had columns to indicate whether the book had been read, whether we wanted to buy it, whether we now owned it, etc. 

Yes, I’m a bit obsessive.  HAH!  🙂

Happy Reading!



  1. Hi!
    So inspiring! Reading your posts make me itch to homeschool my boys!

    It will be fantastic if the rest of the homeschooling parents keep a blog just like yours. Just wonder what blogs you read on homeschooling?

  2. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one with a book-obsession!

    One thing I miss about the library system in our old town was that I could go online & actually put a hold on books – even if they were not loaned out – and all I do is wait for the automated phone call that tells me that the book(s) were ready for me to pick-up. No more hunting for books that weren’t in the right shelves or what not – the librarians took care of that.

    Maybe your library has a feature like that?

    Sure saved me a ton of time!
    Thanks for dropping by my blog btw!

  3. hi angie

    thanks so much for sharing this. i’ve started by printing out the booklists you mentioned. i need to ask tho whether you have a helpful site to recommend for good chinese books?

  4. […] usual I will take my main cue from the Amblesideonline curriculum’s reading list and add the usual suspects.  But some of the things that will change […]

  5. hi angie

    just a note to say thanks so much for posting this. with the booklists in hand, i’ve started using the library in a much more focused way now, thanks to you.

    but i’ve got to get more organised. i spent a little too much time searching the catalogues then the shelves today. i’ve got 3 children to hunt down books for!

    but it sure was fun and i LOVE the books we bring home now instead of the hit and miss or same old same old things we used to get.

    btw, wld really love to know your eldest girl’s booklist when she was abt 7yo. any particular good ‘girl’ titles/authors? as you can guess, my 7yo is a girl and altho i got great titles fr your Timothy’s list I think she’d like a couple more girly ones.


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