Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Classroom Library Organization

Once August rolls around I begin working on my classroom to prepare for a new year. I always start with the actual set up of the room. Once the furniture is in place my attention turns to my classroom library.

I was excited to make new baskets for books by
Tom Angleberger and Kate Messner. Whenever
I have a lot of books by one author they get a basket.
I’ve long believed in the importance of the classroom library (and the school library WITH a librarian – but that’s another post). When I switched from being self-contained to semi-departmentalized, my classroom library slowly took over my entire room. I believe Dr. Allington has recommended somewhere from 750-1500 books for a classroom library. According to Booksource I now have just over 2000 books in my classroom library. In all honesty, sometimes I feel I have too many – that maybe it is a bit overwhelming to students. But after weeding it out greatly over the last few years, there aren’t many I feel I can get rid of.

When you have a great number of books in a classroom, I think organization is the key. For the last two days that has been my goal in working in my classroom – ensure the library is organized. A friend volunteered her time and we began with wiping out each basket, making sure the books were in the correct basket, and that they were all facing front.

Hot reads on the tall shelf, authors on the low shelves.
As you walk in my room the wall to your left has book organized by author in alphabetical order by their last name. There is also a tall shelf at the start that contains “Hot books” – ones that I have book talked, or students have. I still have it stocked with last year’s hot books but it will be changing over to the new groups recommendations soon.

Genre, Newbery, Caldecott, Picture Books.

The wall opposite the door has books grouped in baskets by series and genre. At the end of those shelves are baskets that contain Caldecott, Newberry, and my collection of picture books.

Graphic Novels
Opposite of it there is a freestanding shelf behind the couch. It contains graphic novels or what I call graphic novel “hybrids”. This is probably my most rotated section in the room.

Part of my non-fiction. State award nominees are on top.
Finally I have two different shelves housing my non-fiction books. After a lot of deliberation I sorted these by the Dewey Decimal system. My reason being if someone was reading a poetry book from my classroom and they wanted to go to our school library and find more poetry books, the sticker on the book will tell them to look at 811. Some non-fiction books are in baskets; many are standing on their side.

All books have labels that say the basket the book belongs in, whether it is classified as fiction or nonfiction, and SOKOLOWSKI (my last name). I also write my name across the pages at the top of the book incase the sticker on the front falls off.

Finally, this year I will be using Booksource Classroom Organizer for library check out. My students took time at the end of the year to scan all of my books into the website. My reading camp students used it this summer to check out books. We had a few issues but overall it was wonderful. So I am hoping that this year will be the year I keep track of more books!

A classroom library is an investment for certain. But I firmly believe that one of the reason my students read so much is that they are surrounded by books. The other reason being I can turn to any shelf and recommend a variety of books because I’ve read them. If you are just building your library, there are many ways to accumulate books. Ask parents to donate gently used books. Put books up on Donors Choose. Create a wish list on Amazon. Ask for gift cards to bookstores in lieu of gifts. I used to be hesitant to suggest that, but now I inform parents at parent night that I am the sole provider of the books in my classroom and if they ever are looking for something to give me, gift cards are excellent. J And now that my library is ready, I can begin.