Library Organization Tips

What do you do to stay organized throughout the school year? If you’re anything like me, you wear many different hats at your school. I’m the librarian/media specialist, a reading teacher, website coordinator, Accelerated Reader coordinator, outdoor sign updater, book shelver, book repairer, etc. Pair these duties with the fact that I don’t have an assistant and there’s potential for stress and chaos.

Based on my years of experience, I’ve come up with a few library organization tips to keep the stress level to a minimum. First, I spent the entire summer writing library lesson plans to use for the upcoming school year. It wasn’t exactly how I would have preferred to spend my time off, but the effort will pay off during the school year when I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to be teaching every week. I’ve also been working on an AR Guide for Parents to hand out on Open House night next week as well as library policies. I hope to have those ready to share with you very soon. The beauty of this (for you) is that I’ve done all the work, if you use my library lesson plans and resources.

Next, I create library checkout cards for my students. Mine are pretty low tech. I just get on Destiny, print out barcodes for each student, and stick them onto different colored index cards. I use a different color for each homeroom, and I keep them in an index card box right beside the scanner so the students can’t lose them. I have the students decorate their cards at the beginning of the school year so it’s easier for them to find their card in the box. This also helps younger students who may not be able to read their name yet. This year I’m going to laminate the cards to help them last a little longer. When students come in for book checkout, they bring their books to the computer and scan their card, then their books. This takes some practice, and the students don’t always do it exactly right, but it will buy you a little bit of time to help students find books if you don’t have an assistant.

At my school, we have open library time every morning. To keep things less chaotic, I require students to have a library pass to visit. This way, I know that their homeroom teachers have accounted for them. In the past, I’ve given teachers photocopied passes, but this year I’m going to provide each teacher 3 laminated passes. This way there won’t be more than 3 students from each homeroom in the library in the morning. I will share my library pass design with you as well!

Finally, I “employ” several library helpers each year. At the beginning of the school year, I have interested 5th grade students fill out a library helper application. These students have to be willing to come in one day each week during their recess time. Ideally, I’d like my library helpers to shelve books, but they don’t always do a good job, so I assign them other small tasks like putting barcode stickers on index cards or delivering AR reports to teachers. I am glad to have any help I can get. I am working on my library helper application as well, and I will let you know when it is available for you.

What idea can you share that would help everyone as school starts this year? Please share it in the comments! Also, if you’re not signed up for my email list, sign up by clicking here!  My August newsletter will be going out soon and you won’t want to miss it. You’ll also get a month’s worth of free library lesson plans, just for signing up!

Comments

  1. adodd says

    I am trying something similar this year using shelf markers.( I started to color code by class but decided to do random colors in hopes of students using the same shelf marker each year and their class groupings will continue to change.) The shelf markers will be used for the intended purpose, for check-out, but also as a behavior management tracker. No marks on the shelf marker at the month (4-5 media center visits) means a trip to the treasure box!

      • Laura G. says

        I just jumped into your conversation but for my treasure box I collect what my kids don't want (6 & 8 yrs. old). I also tell my friends that I collect things for my treasure box at school and they are more than happy to donate to the cause! I also pick up items at the dollar store.

    • kinganl says

      I saw some great ideas on Pinterest about creating 'cards' that offer 'treasures' that require no money… sit by a friend, be the first to choose your seat in the reading corner or check out a brand-new book, etc. Clever ideas.

  2. Angie says

    I just have to say that I love your blog and the helpful info I have found so far! :) I am the library aide in a k-8 school, but 'run' the library time for most of the classes and have never really done true lesson plans, but am planning on that this year. For your library 'cards' have you looked into using Id cards with barcodes? The company our school uses for school pictures provides two free sets of barcoded id cards that link up with their student number and destiny ( it is awesome!) I just sort them into home rooms and put in a hanging card holder before their class comes in. They like seeing their picture and can easily grab them :) the only change I am looking at implementing this year is giving the middle school students their own cards to bring in…no card no book… Hoping it will help them be more responsible :) thanks again for all the work you are putting in ahead of time to prepare for the school year and for sharing it with all of us!

    • Elem_Librarian says

      Thanks Angie! I don't think we have that option with the school pictures but it sounds pretty cool.

    • Rhonda Gamboa says

      Our students bring a media center folder each time they visit the media center where a barcode is affixed to the outisde and inside the classroom teachers has written their AR level. In turn I add color dots on the folders to assist the first and second graders in finding their 2 required AR books, the 3rd selection may be a free choice book.

  3. Kristin Jacobs says

    I love the library helper application idea! Do you have a pdf of the application that you use that you could post online. I would love to implement this in my library this year! Thanks for all the great ideas and advice.

    • Elem_Librarian says

      I have this on my list of things to do, but I just haven't gotten to it yet! Hopefully I can get this done by next week.

    • Elem_Librarian says

      Thanks Cheryl! I am so blessed to have a wonderful school and to enjoy what I do. My goal for this year is to stay positive. :)

  4. Brook Berg says

    I do something similar. I have kindergarten teachers print student names onto 2×3 inch labels. We print barcodes, then we place then labels onto the same color shelf marker that is cut (by volunteers) from sheets of tag board. We get a package of stunt photos from the school secretary after picture day and add those too. I keep the shelf markers from year to year and add the yearly photo. When kids leave me in 5th grade, they get a bookmark with all their pictures on it.

    • Elem_Librarian says

      I love that idea! I know several other people who are doing shelf markers that way, but I've never heard of the picture idea. Awesome!

  5. erachellleb says

    I love the student library card idea. I started doing that a couple of years ago and I love it. I decided to get a shoe organizer with clear pockets and I label each class by teacher's name. The kids know to get their card before they check out. I laminate mine and most have lasted till the kids leave and go to middle school. Notice I said most, one was found in the bathroom-needless to say I just made that kid a new one. This system works well for me.

  6. Beth O. says

    I just found your blog, can't wait to dig in and read!

    I do something similar to your library cards, but use longer pieces of cardstock so they can also be used as shelf markers. I have the kids write their names on the same side as their barcode. On the back I have them list or draw pictures of the things they want to read about this year. I then use the cards to help with my book ordering. I can look to see if there are any trends in their requests, recommend books based on interest, and look to see what we need to add to our collection.

    Good luck on your start to the school year.

    Beth

    • Elem_Librarian says

      That's a great idea, Beth. I think I may do that with my index cards this year – have them write down 5 interests or something. Glad you found the site!

  7. Heather says

    On my Nonfiction shelves I have numbers cut out of construction paper, glued onto poster board, and laminated. I tape the number card on the top of each shelf. The numbers are not staying up good and keep falling and it’s driving me crazy. What do you all do in your nonfiction section? In the Everybody and Fiction section I bought and painted wooden letters and affixed them to the top of the book shelf. That is going to be to expensive and to many zero’s to do for Nonfiction. I need some new ideas.

    Thanks!
    Heather

  8. Jenny Clark says

    At my last school we had the students do both self checkin and checkout. I found that even the kindergartners could do this very well by the middle of the year. We had one computer for chekin by the entry doors and 1 at circulation for checkout. We also had another computer by the circulation one for printing overdues, looking up books, collecting fines etc so we didn’t have to stop the checkout line. So much better than the one checkin/out back and for manual junk I deal with now. I do have an aide but having to always have someone doing circulation means less time for labeling books for AR, helping 1st and 2nd graders in DOUBlLE classes (joy) find books, repairing books, and adding lost or destroyed books to a reorder list as we go doesn’t get done now. I know that system was best for kids even with the few errors that happened. Kids are very responsible about making sure they have done it right. We used a AR folder with a barcode too and an added bonus was I was able to use that folder for kids to keep papers in from library if we had an activity that lasted more than one period. Saved a lot of time not having to collect and pass out papers and what a way to start getting them ready for middle school by having them keeping track of their stuff

  9. Jenny Clark says

    At my last school we had the students do both self checkin and checkout. I found that even the kindergarten kids could do this very well by the middle of the year. We had one computer for chekin by the entry doors and 1 at circulation for checkout. We also had another computer at the circulation desk for printing overdues, looking up books, collecting fines etc so we didn’t have to stop the checkout line. So much better than the one checkin/out back and forth stuff we do now. I do have an aide but having to always have someone doing circulation means less time for labeling books for AR, helping 1st and 2nd graders in DOUBLE classes (joy) find books, repairing books, adding lost or destroyed books to a reorder list as we go, etc. Most of that just doesn’t get done now. I know that system was best for kids even with the few errors that happened. Kids were very responsible about making sure they did it right. We used an AR folder with a barcode too and an added bonus was I was able to use that folder for kids to keep papers in from library if we had an activity that lasted more than one period. Saved a lot of time not having to collect and pass out papers and what a way to start getting them ready for middle school by having them keeping track of their stuff

  10. Stephanie Bassman says

    I do something similar; print the barcodes for each class on 1 sheet and each class has a sheet in a binder. I can turn to the binder and find everyone by either name or number. The number is the same as their cafeteria account. I ask my teachers for the sheets that they use for breakfast and lunch. I have them in the plastic page covers in case I need to write a note. I can then erase it later. I also put color dots for their reading level right on the same sheets. I can cut and paste students if added, dropped, or a change in class assignment.

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