Classroom libraries have come a long way to meet the needs of 21st century learners. While some remain little more than a few books scattered on a bookshelf, many teachers have worked diligently to build a classroom library that supports balanced literacy instruction and independent reading. These libraries include both print and digital media and a diverse array of fiction, nonfiction, informational texts, authors, and varied genres and themes.
Building a classroom library doesn’t have to break the bank. Teachers can use these 7 budget-friendly ideas (infographic here) to build their book collection. In addition, they can benchmark their current collection and use these research-based guidelines when growing and building their collection of materials.
Organizing the classroom library is important, too. While we know that one of the primary purposes of a diverse classroom library is putting a “just right” book in the hands of students, as your book collection grows, organization becomes increasingly important. Organizing your books not only helps students find and choose books, but helps you keep track of them as well.
Along with organizing your collection, check out systems become necessary, too. While paper and pencil systems can work, today’s digital tools can assist teachers to organize, check out, and get books back to where they belong. Listed below are three digital tools that will help you organize and create a check out system that will help you and your students live happily with your growing resources.
Affordable scanning systems are fairly new on the horizon, and I have a favorite tool that I’ve come to love. My office library includes countless professional books and a large collection of picture books, novels, chapter books, and books in a series (and numerous characters from cherished books that share space with books and well-loved, favorite toys from my kids).
The “Intelliscanner” has become my go-to tool that keeps my growing collection organized so I can easily find my books for personal and professional use, and to quickly grab a book (or 2 or 3 or 12) to share with teachers. Put simply, the Intelliscanner is an electronic scanning system used for organizing books and media.
I’ll briefly describe how the Intelliscanner can be used to catalog, print resources, and check out books.
First, to catalog books, you simply use the Intelliscanner to scan the barcode on the back of the book and the software automatically uploads information which includes the: title, author, publisher, release date, genre, and number of pages. You can also add information in fields such as where the book is located in your library, the reading level, and purchase date.
Next, after you’ve cataloged your collection, you can create printed resource lists for students and teachers (see image). For example, you could create a list of all the books in your classroom library according to genre or reading level. The list includes both the name of the book and a small thumbnail image of the cover of the book (see screenshot image) which is really helpful for students to easily locate the book. I’ve also used this feature to create resource lists for teachers of professional books available in specific literacy areas such as reading workshop, writing workshop, or comprehension, for example.
A third feature of the Intelliscanner is as a tool to facilitate a check-out system. To use this feature, you create labels with bar codes which are placed on each book. I have not used the system for this purpose; however, I work with teachers who use it for their check-out system and purport that it is simple to use and helps them keep better track of their collection. Some teachers who use this feature assign a designated student as the weekly “classroom librarian” which is part of the classroom job system.
With tightened budgets in most schools, it is important to note that the Intelliscanner is discounted for teachers through their website. The least expensive option which functions through a USB (the one I use) is still only $79; wireless options are slightly more expensive. Since this price range is quite affordable, many teachers and literacy coaches have purchased an Intelliscanner with funds from mini-grants or PTO grants. In no time, their classroom or professional library was organized and cataloged.
2. Book Retriever App
The Classroom Library Company offers K-8 classroom library resources and features thousands of titles. Ben Conn, a founder along with his wife, is quite knowledgeable and helps teachers and principals create custom libraries to varied grade levels, reading levels, content areas, and the Common Core State Standards.
They’ve also developed the Book Retriever App, available in the iTunes store, which supports your growing classroom library. With a growing database of more than 136,000 titles, this app is intended to support both teachers and parents in helping students choose books.
The Book Retriever features the following functions:
- scans barcodes which are automatically added to your collection (you can add books manually, too)
- organizes and sort books by title, author, and level
- prints barcode labels to facilitate checkout
- features a “hot list” of 10 books that change monthly
- allows teachers view all books or only those checked out
- allows teachers and parents to place orders through the app for a discounted rate
With the cost at less than a cup of coffee, the Book Retriever app is one cool tool worth checking out!
3. Classroom Organizer
- add existing titles
- import titles from a Booksource order
- import your student roster
- enable students to check out and return print and Booksource eBook
- includes how to locate your books
- run reports on classroom library activity
A classroom library is a vital component of the literacy-rich environment in your classroom. Keeping it growing and well organized to support balanced literacy instruction and independent reading is important.
These cool tools can help.
Want more information about growing, organizing, and using your classroom library? Then check out the entire Classroom Library Series in the Teacher Toolkit.
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