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December 28, 2016

Setting Up the Classroom Library: 4 Steps to Get Started

Written By: Christi Fultz
Originally Published On: June 11, 2012
X Setting Up the Classroom Library: 4 Steps to Get Started

Setting Up the Classroom Library:  4 Steps to Get Started
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

Storage
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.

Sorting
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.

Checkout System
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.

Cataloging
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!

Setting Up the Classroom Library:  4 Steps to Get Started - ReallyGoodTeachers.com

 

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.

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  • Yailet
    June 21, 2012

    Thank you for sharing these great tips!

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  • Mary Lou Varela
    June 19, 2012

    I use a similar system for organizing books. Putting a sticker on a book that coincides with a matching sticker on a basket makes returning classroom books to their original location much easier for the students. Thank you for the reminder that kids love cozy areas to read their books.

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  • Linda
    June 17, 2012

    Thanks so much for the great ideas! I also like the checkout cards. It is a great way to know what the kids have checked out and keep track of your books. Thanks!!

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  • Shar W
    June 12, 2012

    Great ideas! I need to rethink the organization of my classroom library.

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  • Melissa
    June 12, 2012

    I recently ordered book boxes and can’t wait to use your advice. Cute clocks, too!

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  • Annette
    June 12, 2012

    I too am organizing my library this summer. I am using an app on my iphone to scan the barcodes and up pops the picture and the information about each book. The categories I use in the classroom bins are the categories I scan the books in, so hopefully I will be able to find what I need! (fingers crossed)

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  • Leea
    June 11, 2012

    Thanks for all the great tips!

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  • April McNair
    June 11, 2012

    Lots of great ideas! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  • Shelli777
    June 11, 2012

    Helpful tips!

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  • Kimberly Collatos
    June 11, 2012

    What a great idea! I will definitely be trying this.

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  • Linda
    June 11, 2012

    Great ideas! Can’t wait to implement your ideas, Christi!

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  • Mrs. Simons
    June 11, 2012

    Although part of me doesn’t want to think about how I’m going to set up NEXT year, I am so glad you’ve posted this when I actually have time to think about it and time to do something about it. Great ideas! Thanks!

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  • Susan Fletcher
    June 11, 2012

    I need all the help I can get with organization. I have taught for 28 years and have moved classrooms the past 4 years! Now I wish I had less stuff and MORE organization!!!

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  • Karen
    June 11, 2012

    I love the pocket idea for the book cards! Organizing my library has been on my list for some time–thanks for the great ideas.

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  • Christen Foote
    June 11, 2012

    I love this idea and you are correct about sorting your books by genre. You realize just what you have and don’t have after that! Now to keep the books organized all year long like that would be great!

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  • Nicole Solimine
    June 11, 2012

    I think I am going to start reimagining my classroom library before the school year is out! Thank you for the inspiration!

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  • Adrianne
    June 11, 2012

    I love the idea of doing checkout cards. My tutoring students like to borrow books from me and sometimes I lose track of where the books have gone. You’ve inspired me to do better!

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  • Robin Klein
    June 11, 2012

    Thank you for your suggestions. I have never tried an actual checkout system, but might be interested in implementing one in the future.

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  • Christi Fultz
    June 11, 2012

    You’re welcome!

    Melissa, I used the index cards with my second grade class. I’m sure first graders could do it too with a little guidance.

    After I scheduled this post last month, I also found out about Classroom Organizer. It’s a FREE online checkout system through your computer. http://classroom.booksource.com/account/login.aspx

    Keep Learning!
    Christi ?
    Ms. Fultz’s Corner

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  • Heather Morris
    June 11, 2012

    Ms. Fultz has great ideas! I love the crate seats, and the t-shirt pillows are so creative! Thank you for sharing your ideas with all of us! Your ideas are “Really Good Stuff!”

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  • Melissa
    June 11, 2012

    I like the chedkout idea. I wonder how well it would work with 1st graders.

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  • Julie P.
    June 11, 2012

    great ideas. Am thinking of purchasing this cart!

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  • Mary McGough
    June 11, 2012

    Awesome idea. I am reorganizing my library this year.

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  • Tara Gunnarschja
    June 11, 2012

    Great Article thanks

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  • Samantha
    June 11, 2012

    Great article. Love your tips!
    Samantha

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  • Heather Bridges
    June 11, 2012

    I am working on organizing my library now! Thank you for the post!

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  • Valerie
    June 11, 2012

    Really great ideas, Christi!
    Thanks!

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  • Ms. Fultz's Corner: Monday Made It: Classroom Clocks | Clocks
    June 11, 2012

    […] Fultz's Corner: Monday Made It: Classroom Clocks My classroom library guest post is up on Really Good Stuff today. It’s the first in the Teaching Bootcamp 2012 series. After checking out all the cute […]

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