Classroom Library Organization 101!

It’s time for another monthly “Bright Ideas” link up and I thought I’d kick off the summer series with something I spent years developing and might give some ideas to others as to how to organize your classroom library.

Now this became a necessity for me once my addiction to books became too ridiculous to hide anymore.  As my library grew and grew, I needed a way for students (and me!) to be able to FIND books that were good fits for them and to be able to PUT THEM BACK!

A decade ago, I had lots of leveled bins but as I learned more and more about teaching reading I started to abandon that.  After all, students need to learn how to pick a “just right” book, not reach into a bin of books that are assigned a level based on word count or other formula.  (See my post HERE about issues related to text complexity!).  I do still have 3 leveled bin in my room for my most struggling readers so they do have “go to” places to access books.

So how is my library organized?  Here goes…classroom library organization–photojournalism style!

A huge percentage of my books are in my numbered bins.  These bins are organized by author, series, or topic.  I have everything from Andrew Clements to Margaret Peterson Haddix to Roald Dahl to cat and dog books to bins of book “Starring girls” and “Starring boys”.  I have sports books…Cam Jansen…Boxcar Children…Big Nate…YOU NAME IT!  Some bins have several book types in each…Judy Moody and Amber Brown share a bin because I don’t have enough of either to make a full bin and they appeal to the same readers.
Each bin has a label and a number…
Each book that “lives” in a bin has a number written on it to match.  That way students can EASILY put books back by matching either the author/series/topic OR the number!
On the other side of my library is another giant shelf full of other bins.  These bins have different genres and other “types” of books that don’t fit in my chapter bin collection.  I have bins on everything from human body to historical fiction to mysteries to Newbery winners to science fiction to animals to poetry.  Each of these bins also has a code to match…”MY” for mysteries, “HF” for historical fiction, and so on.  As you can see, lots of the books on my big white shelf could ALSO fit in some of these bins…but if I have enough of an author or series to separate them out, I do.
I use labels like this to attach to some of my bins.  Others have the label stuck on with contact paper.  This summer one of my “Monday Made It” projects is going to be to redo all of my labels!
I also have a huge book spinner where each pocket is numbered and labeled for sets of books that I have 4-6 of but not enough for a bin.  Sorry I forgot to take a picture of it!  My blue numbered bins go up to 40, and then I have another 16 numbered spots in the big spinner.  All books that don’t have a bin, a bucket, or a spinner spot end up on three shelves like this in no particular order!  Students know that any book without a number or label should be put away here.
Finally, to prevent damaged books from being put back into the bins, I have a “repair” bin handy so books can be put right in.  I have parent helpers check it every so often to be book doctors!

Throughout the year I add some other bins to shake things up…”Teacher Recommended”, “Student Recommended”, and “Brand New!” bins come and go to spice things up in the classroom library and draw attention to books that are being ignored or to highlight new books before they get put into their “forever” home!

So there is my “Bright Idea” tip for June.  Hope it gives you some ideas if you are having library nightmares!

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Like this “Bright Idea” and want to see a bunch more?  Check out the dozens of amazing ideas by some amazing teacher/bloggers in the links below.  Thanks for stopping by!