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Classroom Libraries

July 28, 2010

Okay, teacher-friends (and even those of you who aren’t teachers, but are technologically savvy).  One thing that’s been bugging me all summer is my classroom library and the lack of organization there.  Below you’ll find my personal reflection on how it’s worked thus far in my young teaching career.  I post the reflection here so you can see my thoughts about this process.

I pride myself on having a large selection of books for my students to choose from in my classroom.  Let’s face it:  the kiddos can’t always make it to the school library.  It’s used for this test, that reception, this training, and that meeting–all in one day, sometimes!  And when students do have the opportunity to go, they often struggle to choose interesting, accessible texts.  I love the idea of having many options for them to choose from in my classroom so I can help guide them through the ever-difficult choice process.

However, the fact remains that my hard-earned and generously-donated books will disappear from my bookshelves quicker than a puddle in a Tennessee July.  Whether it be irresponsibility or outright theft (or–most likely–some combination of the two), this fact remains.  I have tried a couple of different methods for managing my book inventory, and neither have proven incredibly successful:

Library Log

This is what I used my first year in the classroom and it involved a “log” where the class librarian wrote down the title and author, along with the student’s name and check-out date.

The good:

  • Most students returned books that were recorded
  • Simplicity
  • Student-driven (i.e. I didn’t have to get involved)

The bad:

  • Students write slowly, and this process took approximately 8 years per student, per book
  • They can’t find the authors’ names (perhaps more of a reflection on my teaching than their ability, but let’s not go there now)
  • Not everything was recorded
  • Many books were taken and not recorded

Computer Check-Out

Knowing that I needed something better, I did my research and decided to create a FileMakerPro database of all my library books.  This is when I discovered that there were about 700 of them (holy cow!).  And then I discovered that this process would suck up about 100 hours of my precious summer relaxation.  I did it, though.  Our school tech lady was even kind enough to scrounge up an old eMac in our Dell-powered system and haul it to my classroom to run the database program.

The good:

  • Searchable database was super cool
  • Pulling up/printing out overdue lists was simple
  • Each book had a label inside with author, title, reading level, AR points, and MY NAME
  • Speedy checkout

The bad:

  • Students couldn’t check out their own books and I did it for them, as the system was too complicated for their limited technological understanding
  • Adding new books and printing new labels was incredibly time consuming (like, it only happened 3 times all year because it took so long)
  • The eMac didn’t have the program on it, so the database ran solely from a jump drive
  • Some twerp–ahem, I mean–“lovely, angelic child” stole the jump drive from the computer and all was lost

Now that all that has been explained, do you have ideas about organization of a library this large?  Should I just give up the fight and let them borrow at will (we’re talking inner-city middle schoolers, here)?  Do you know of some genius procedure I have never heard of?  Would I be better served to simply continue with what I used last year, but with more student training?

I’m open to any and all suggestions here!  In fact, if you could see me right now, I’m on my knees begging for you to share your hard-earned knowledge with me.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kayela permalink
    July 29, 2010 12:56 am

    What about that…its a bit pricey (135$)…but i have had friends that have had a great deal of success with systems that are similar and their 3rd graders checked them out with the scanner? hmm…

    I mostly just like that you scan the barcode and it creates your database for you! YAY!


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