So, Your School is Ready to Organize a Book Room?
If you’re lucky enough to be the recipient of funds for a new book room (or you’ve inherited a book room that needs reorganizing), then you are among the most fortunate educators I know! This free checklist will walk you through a step-by-step approach to manage all the moving parts of assembling a book room.
The real key to a fabulous bookroom (besides the best books, of course!) is the most simple, streamlined organization and checkout system. My favorite book rooms are those that put the focus on teachers spending their time choosing the right books from students, and not being bogged down by multi-layered organizational structures and complicated checkout systems. Give a teacher a break!
In my humble opinion, the best system is bins labeled by level, books grouped by rubber band, and a checkout process based on the honors system. It really does work!
Get your copy of my checklist for organizing a new book room. Follow these steps to save time, money, and your sanity!
I’ve seen many book rooms over the years, both in person and in photos, and there’s something I’ve noticed about most of them – they are over-organized. Well-intentioned teachers or other staff members have devised complicated check-out sheets involving cards, binders, clipboards, and the like. They’ve labeled boxes with titles, alphabets, numerals, colored dots, address labels, clothespins, and Ziploc bags. All for the sake of keeping the school book room organized. What a mess!
The best way to organize your book room is to keep things SIMPLE! The latest book room I organized, with the help of some teacher friends, was a victim of over-organization. Musty, old cardboard file boxes were labeled with the titles of each set of guided readers housed in the box. And each set of those readers had an old library card (recycled from the school’s former card catalog) with a handwritten title that was paper clipped to the books. Teachers were asked to pull the card of the books they wanted to borrow and file it on a poster with library pockets, one for each classroom. The system was cumbersome, the cards and paperclips were a mess, the boxes smelled bad, and it was difficult to find what I needed. Definitely not simple. And the worst part of all was that the system was over-organized to a point where it was impossible to add new titles to the book room without completely overhauling the entire thing. And this book room was desperate for new titles, especially nonfiction.
Enter the new and improved system! I purchased colored tubs at Ikea; they were large and inexpensive, they fit the shelves, and were plastic. No musty smell! My trusty friends and I pulled out the books and sorted them by level (our district uses numbers 1-30 that correspond with Rigby PM Readers). We labeled each tub with it’s level number, rubber banded them, and tossed them in. That’s it! Now teachers can pull a tub off the shelf and easily flip through the books and clearly see the title and cover of each set. Finding the books teachers need is now faster and easier than ever before. And there’s no check-out system to hassle with – just take your books and teach! Another added bonus to the simplified check-out system is the check-in process. Find a tub at the right level and put your books back in. No more hunting through boxes and squinting to read labels in order to find the one box you’re looking for. Such a time saver!
With a new system in place I was able to take stock of the books we already owned and the types of books we desperately needed. Adding the new books I ordered was a snap! I was surprised at how few books we actually had. The old cardboard file boxes took up a lot of space without holding many books. So what looked like a book room fully stocked with books was actually masking an under-funded book room. Once we reorganized we discovered we had empty tubs to spare. But that’s alright, it’s just more room to grow.
Take a look at our work in progress and see the after shots…
Book room reorganization in progress
Download a copy of my book room organization checklist and get started!