13 June 2012

Library Organization

I feel like I need to answer the pressing questions I get often before I start working on any new stuff, and as I'm taking a break from my list of things to do. I've had a lot of questions on how I do my library. It's an ever growing, learning, and revamping process... basically one big never-ending headache. So through my 3 years, I've changed the way I've had my library probably 50 times. I think the way I do it now works for most grades, and is pretty basic and easy to manage.

So first I took my books... (which is also a ongoing headache) and sorted them. Last year after my move to 3rd grade I packed away probably 20 boxes of picture books more aimed at first graders, but I'm thinking I need to pull a lot of them back out for my third graders because they love picture books, and it's easier to do summaries, projects, organizers from picture books as in class work. But anyway I sorted my books last year, mostly into chapter series, genre, etc. You probably have to combine many because you'll end up with a few from one category, and it's silly to waste a whole bin on one series with only a few books.

So that's my first suggestion. One of these summer's, maybe next summer when I'm even more comfortable in 3rd grade I'll scan all my books in, because if you have time I'd highly suggest doing that. That way you have a list of books and you can make marks about what you want to buy or what you need to replace. So anyway, sort your books into manageable, sense-able groups - by author, series, genre, fiction/non-fiction, topic.

Then I made names for each of my groups based on the author, topic, etc. I wrote a list of all of these, then I gave each group a number. Some people do colored stickers, letters, etc. This was the easiest way for me to do things. Plus I also leveled a good majority of my books so I put levels on the book as well.

So first I bought tiny labels, think small return address labels. On each of the labels I put the number I gave to each group/series on the right and then, if I found the level of the book, I put that letter on the left side. This was a LONG process. Basically it took a lot of post it notes and organization. I had already leveled all the books with sticky notes (most were similar levels in each chapter series and even all together as whole). So I would take each group one at a time. As I picked a book up I would type the level in the computer at the same time. This was I had the right amount of labels for each group, plus I had the right levels written on the labels. Once I finished a page, I'd print it, then label all of the books I had done. This was my way of not having too many piles and craziness going on.

I curved the labels around the spine of the book, with the group number in front and the level in back. So anyway I continued this with ALL of my books. As I said, you probably are going to not be able to find some levels for books, I either guessed if they were part of a series with similar levels, or I left some blank.

Then I made labels for my library bins. I put the title of the group/series, with a picture of a book from that series/group, as well as the number for the group. I started with shoe box size tupperware totes, which work fabulous and aren't expensive. Don't get me wrong, I'd love the colorful bins from Really Good Stuff, but there's no way I can afford those! So after a few weeks of school I realized I had these 2 shelf-type units (see below) with nothing in them, so I switched all my books over to it. I just took the labels off the shoebox bins and placed them on the bins in the shelving unit.

Because I had 2 of them in my room I was able to put them in 2 different places around the room. I am a firm believer that you should have books all over the room, not just in one specific place. I still had quite a few groups without bins so I found some places for those books as well. This worked WONDERFULLY for me, but that's because the majority of my books are chapter books. If you're a primary teacher this probably wouldn't work because your books aren't all going to fit in these bins. You might be able to take the bins out and just store the books. To be honest I'm thinking of trying to find a way to do that this year, just because I hate (and yes I know I'm crazy) the colors of the bins. The primary colors does not fit with me at all!! I hate it! I wish I could paint the whole think black and get colorful bins, or just plain black/white bins for inside.

So in summary, my tip is to sort all of your books into nice, manageable categories that make sense to your kiddos. Give each group a number (or maybe if you use number levels give the groups letters so you don't have more than one letter on the label) and make labels for each book. I preferred those small labels above because they don't take up much room. Placing them on the spine made it easy for kids to read. They only really see the group number, not the level, when they're looking for books. I prefer to not have my kiddos worried about finding a book based on the level they see. Then make book bin labels that are easy for your kids to read and place them on whatever storage units you have. I have made some of these labels in the past, as well as some this year. I have a few already posted on TN and I'll be posting a few more sets. There are sets with and without numbers. If you used my system last year, the numbers on the labels are the EXACT same as last year so you won't have to re-number books.

Labels I have posted:

{i do have a set with numbers not posted}


Lisa R. said...

Those labels came out super cute! I love how you organized everything!! :)

Learning Is Something to Treasure

Sara said...

Thank you! I plan on doing this this summer!

And I feel your pain hating the primary color of bins! I went to Dollar Tree and bought bright green, pink and blue bins (with dots, so it matches my polka dot theme) and they are about the same size as the bins in your picture. You may be able to use those to switch them out :)

Dawn said...

Have you thought about getting spray paint that works on plastic? Then you can color them what you want. :)

Christie said...

Sara - I will definitely look. I've always thought about finding replacement ones, but I spend so much other money I can't bring myself to!

Dawn - I have thought about doing it on the one I own, but I can't on the other one because it belongs to the school.

Kate said...

Your labels are very cute! Do you have a plan for scanning your books in? I started using Library Thing two years ago and it has really helped me know what I have in my library! Here is a link to my library page if you want to see how it looks once you scan your books in: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/ktbailin (I used a CueCat scanner to scan them all in... took forever, but I put a great parent helper to work!) Good luck with your organization!

PS: I am a brand new teacher blogger! Stop by if you get a chance :)

EduKate and Inspire