The library is one of the most important parts of a classroom. Providing students with interesting, easy-to-find choices inside your library is the key to getting students to read. The good news is setting up your classroom library requires only a few basic items and a little organization.
Library Organization Tips
First, you need to decide how to store your books. I use several bookshelves, plastic tubs, and a display rack to promote special thematic books throughout the year. Once your staples are in place, I recommend adding a rug and cozy pillows to make the library more inviting. To add a personal touch, I made t-shirt pillows from our school shirts and crate seats with fabric that tied into the rest of our classroom. Your library should feel inviting so students want to curl up with their books and stay a while.
Next, it’s time to get organized by sorting your books into tubs. Ours are sorted by topic, genre, author, and popular series books. Each tub should be clearly labeled to help students browse the library. I created simple basket labels on the computer with different colors for fiction and nonfiction. I used bright colors and a variety of fonts to make the labels unique and visually appealing. Here’s the best part; I added typed return address stickers with the basket label on the back corner of each book. When our classroom librarians return the books, they simply match the sticker to a basket’s label if they aren’t sure where a book should go. Ensuring the books are always in the correct basket helps students browse the library and find books quickly so they can spend most of their time reading.
Finally, you will need a checkout system. I use library pockets in the back of our books to hold index cards with the book titles on them. When students check out books, they write their names on the index cards and put the index cards in a labeled pocket chart by my desk. This is a great system because I can easily glance at the pocket chart to see what each student is reading. It also prevents many books from becoming lost.
For extra credit, you might consider cataloging your books. I have an excel sheet with each book’s information on it to help keep our library organized and relevant to my students’ needs. I can easily sort my books by genre, theme, series, author, etc. This makes pulling books for units fast and efficient. It’s also been useful to have this list while trying to fill the gaps in my offerings. For example, I realized I didn’t have nearly enough biographies after I sorted my books by genre. Using the list, I’m able to spend money wisely and purchase books that will continually improve our library’s inventory.
Setting up a classroom library takes some time, but maintaining it is easy once you have a system in place. You can do it!
About the Author
Christi Fultz is a third grade teacher in Indiana with a master’s degree in elementary education and a reading specialist license. Reading and writing are her favorite subjects, but she loves creating hands-on math lessons too. Follow her blog, Ms. Fultz’s Corner, for classroom organization tips, literacy resources, reading strategies, writing mini-lessons, math games, freebies, and more. You can also find her on Facebook.