Delightfully Inspiring Thursday: Home Library Organization

I was an elementary school teacher for 5 years and managed to develop quite a classroom library during that time.  When I resigned from that position and had to relocate all of my classroom materials to my house, I had to get really creative with storing it.  I knew that I wanted to keep my entire library inside (rather than storing it in bins in the garage or attic) so I would have access to the books to read with my kids.  I had an organization system that worked really well in my classroom, so I just kept it the same way for home.  If I were to go back to being a classroom teacher, I would reorganize my books into reading levels, but I’m happy with my current system for my home.

I realized really quickly in my first year of teaching that students were not going to keep my paperback books neatly stacked on a shelf.  My sister had organized her books in her classroom so she came over to help me.  We took all the books I had and started to split them up into categories.  We ended up with 12 categories.  They are:

  • Holidays
  • School
  • Animals
  • Social Studies/Science/Math
  • Fairy Tales/Silly Stories/Poems
  • Sign Language
  • Early Readers
  • Fiction
  • Early Chapter Books
  • Character/Family
  • Favorite Authors/Series: Clifford, Amelia Bedelia, Mercer Mayer, Franklin, Arthur
  • Favorite Authors/Series: Robert Munsch, Curious George, Froggy, Berenstein Bears
Here’s a look at the whole book shelf.

We assigned a colored dot for each categorized basket and clearly labeled the front.

Each book that belongs in the basket has that colored sticker on the inside flap.  I also labeled every book with my last name.

For chapter books, I alphabetized them by the first letter of the author’s last name.  I chose a red dot for “A” and then labeled the spine of all the books that belonged with the “A’s.”  The books are only grouped according to the first letter.  I didn’t alphabetize within the “A’s.”

This system worked great in my classroom because the student’s could easily be held accountable for returning the books to the right place.  Once the system was in place, it was really easy to add any new books that I ordered.  Once the order came in, I would categorize the book, add the sticker, and place it in the appropriate basket.

You may not have this many books to start out, but I encourage you to categorize the ones you have.  You can add more baskets/categories as you collect more books.  It really has worked beautifully for me!

Also, as I categorized the books, I developed an Excel document with a spreadsheet for each category and typed each book’s title and author into the appropriate spreadsheet.  Because I was a teacher and had lots of different hands using my books, it was easy for a few of them to disappear.  Once a semester, I would print out the spreadsheets and take inventory of my books.  If there were any books missing, I would send a note home with the students with the titles of the missing books to see if any of them had been taken and left at home.  This helped me to feel like I was taking the best care of the classroom library I worked very hard to pay for and develop.


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