library organization Q&A

After some instagram fun yesterday, I had a few questions about my library.
Perfect time to link up with sweet Elizabeth and Kristen for Optimum Organization!

Q: How do you organize your books?
A: by genre. and, it has changed over the years, but not really...let me explain.
I organize by genre. I do this because in 4th grade I taught by genre.
it just stuck
I like it
I am sure you have seen Beth Newingham's classroom library
if you haven't, don't throw up while you visit
oh say, for the next few days!

this is how I began this madness
I printed off all her labels
laminated the ones I'd needed
and even bought floppy disk inserts!
that's right...but I can't find them anymore! sorry!
I have 4 baskets of realistic fiction and 4 baskets of animal characters. that's ok! Just go with what you've got.  I have added a lot more specific nonfiction. It used to be a box! Now it's 20! 
There are tons of teachers selling library labels. They are very personal to me, but Kristen offers hers with editable templates so all was good! It will admittedly be difficult to use someone else's labels but these fit my needs! I honestly ended using the blank ones and adding my own clipart! Maybe she'll hire me! 

Q: where do you get your book baskets?
A: I color code. The blue fiction baskets are the picture book boxes from really good stuff. I do kit like my boxes to be different colors. So I did the 12 pack plus another 3 pack if the same neon blue. 
I used to buy the target sterilite baskets, but I had a hard time fitting larger picture books in them. 
Thus here's my closet!
They carry small perfect for chapter books, medium for regular picture books, and the large are huge! They are harder to find but do fit picture books!

Now my nonfiction is a bright red. I do use the target baskets here. I do because the red matches my seat cubes and crates all from target college line last summer. It's the perfect red for my dots on turquoise theme! They are the medium size and 2.99 each. 

Q: where'd you get 43 boxes of books?
A: with my money of course! blah!
when I moved to second I ended up packing away a lot of books and began adding picture books I got from mainly Scholastic. But I love children's lit and I am willing to do it. If you are low on cash, I always go through the discards in our library. I was obsessed with Tintin as a kid and when we discarded the older ones, our media specialist saved them for me! Garage sales and used book stores are great too. Just don't buy any old thing though! Be sure it's quality!

Q: do kids get and put away their own books?
A: of course! I do not coddle! Each book is labeled with a garage sale dot sticker that matches the number on the book box! I get the stickers at dollar tree.
Of course, they mess up or stickers fall off.
So I made a book doctor basket for any books that are falling apart, missing a sticker, or for those little lazy lucy's out there.

Q: how long did it take you to get your library organized?
A: It's ongoing. In the beginning I literally had a panic attack. I had pulled all my books {they were inserted with spines out back then}, put them in piles in my floor, and began making stacks. Mind you this was like April one year. I do this. crazy
that was the initial plunge. It took about a week to get them how I wanted.
I had about 10 baskets of books.
My library has expanded since it has become more of a priority.
I hire out my teenager in the summer to sticker and reorganize any missed books. He's cheap! But very efficient!
However, each quarter or so, each student in my room gets their "number" box {every student has a number and they just pick that box from the library}. They take every book out. Make sure it is in the right place, knock the grossness out of the bottom of the box, and get it all pretty again. Students love to help you organize!

Q: where do you keep all these baskets? 
A: I am lucky to have a wall of built in bookcases. I can fit my entire fiction section (15 boxes) plus 8 chapter book size baskets and two poetry baskets, and 24 student book boxes! 
Our district also provides bookcases. I have two taller 3-shelf bookcases and another 2-shelf case. If I had to purchase book cases the 3-shelf ones at target and Walmart are great. I also use a tall 6 foot shelf from Ollie's. 

I hope that helps! A little!


  1. I'm so glad you posted this. :) I'm working on my library next week - UGH - with my brand new baskets from Really Good Stuff - YAY! I'm going to be optimistic and hope that I can get it done in 2 days... hahahaha!

    Third Grade Bookworm

  2. I used to use the Target bins as well. They are super durable! I think I am going with different ones this year, though. So my closet looks like yours!

    Sara :)
    Smiling In Second Grade

  3. Glad I found this post through the linky! I've been using the cardboard magazine files for my books, but they don't fit the big books. I might have to invest some money and organize my books into durable baskets like you. Thanks for the tips!

    Diary of a Grumpy Teacher


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