Are you tired of classroom library chaos? I was too. If you're like me you want to manage all the books that come in and out of your classroom library in an easy and efficient manner. You are sick of messy shelves, torn books, and general chaos when looking for or returning a book. I was too. That's why I completely redid my classroom library.
When I first started teaching I had two shelves from Walmart that I stacked books on. I separated each shelf into a different genre. That gave me six different genres to work within. I quickly realized that between my hoarding of free stuff and the Scholastic points system that I was in trouble. Not only did I lack space, I also had many different genres, authors, and topics that needed to be organized and systematically separated. I also wanted to make popular books easy to access. Finally, I didn't want to have to worry about whether my kids were putting back the books in the correct space. Or, more accurately, how many times books actually got put back in the correct spot.
Enter my library labels.
I didn't put descriptions on the labels that had topics because I felt it would be redundant (i.e. Pumpkins: Books about pumpkins). I thought about something like "Pumpkins: Books on the rounded orange-yellow fruit with a thick rind, edible flesh, and many seeds that is part of the gourd family." But I figured that might be going a little too far. ;)
I wanted to keep the books more organized than just placing them all on a shelf and crossing my fingers that they ended up back where they belonged. I went to Walmart and purchased the cheapest bins I could find. They were less than one dollar apiece, which helped with cost. I purchased a few more shelves giving me six shelves total.
I printed off each label, laminated it (because lamination=happiness) and used packaging tape to attach them to the front. The bright colors really stood out on the bins and the kids loved having an easier way to find and return their books.
One of my favorite things that I did on each specific author or series was to put a quote on the bottom of each label.
This was a fun and easy way to introduce, even in a small way, the style or tone of the books that would be found inside the bin.
I also had the cardboard book boxes (I think they were once called magazine holders) that were smaller. I needed labels to fit onto the smaller size too.
The smaller labels didn't give me adequate space to use definitions or quotes, but I still think they stand out and are easy to read.
Now here comes the best part. The most dreaded part of a classroom library is books being returned in the wrong location. Not only is it difficult to find something if you need it, but your students can't find what they want and can get discouraged. Books being returned to the wrong place can cause a huge mess inside your library. My solution? Individual book labels with clip art that MATCHES the larger labels.
These labels can be printed right onto Avery 5160 labels (affiliate link) and placed directly onto the book. This really, really, REALLY helped my kids put their books away in the right place. It also helped my really low/non-readers return their books. I'm telling you, this will change your life.
I would put my labels in the bottom right corner to avoid covering up too much of the book description on the back.
I started having students help me take a small piece of transparent tape to put over the top of the labels for extra protection, but found I didn't really need it. Plus the stickers come 30 to a sheet so you can easily get more if one falls off.
This system made my books more organized, easier to find, and easier to put away. My Classroom Librarian was basically out of a job after I set up this system.
I also created a way for students to "Check-out" and "Return" the books. This also gave them practice correctly writing a book title and the date.
You can download these sheets for FREE here or by clicking on the two pictures above.
I promise you that this system will simply your life and make your job a little bit easier. If you are interested in using the library labels that I created, you can check them out here: Classroom Library Labels EDITABLE. There is almost 500 pages to choose from including genres, authors, topics, guided reading levels, Lexile, DRA, and more.