Easy Classroom Library Checkout with Booksource Classroom Organizer

Books, books, and more books! That pretty much sums up my life in and out of the classroom. I love to read and each year, it's my goal to help my students to gain a love of reading. After 13 years of teaching and a lot of shopping at Scholastic, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon, I have a MASSIVE classroom library. I add new books at the beginning of each year, as well as new books throughout the year. My classroom library currently contains over 1,000 books, and that number will keep on growing.

For 12 years, I used a basic sign-in/sign-out sheet to hold students responsible for checking books in and out of our classroom library. There were several problems with this:
  • Unless I checked daily, I didn't know which students were actually being responsible and signing out their books before taking them to their seats and ultimately taking them home.
  • Students often forgot to sign their book back in before checking out another. I allow one book to be checked out at a time (2 over breaks). Keeping track of this meant that at least once a week, I had to take out the sign-in sheet and read off each book that was checked out. Very often, students would say, "No, I already returned that," and then it became a search for the book that they returned so that I could be sure they actually did return it. A lot of valuable teaching time was wasted.
  • It was easy for students to go beyond their limit. I always had 3-4 students who would have a stockpile of books inside their desk. Now, I'm all for reading more than one book at the same time, but my students are also allowed to borrow 2 books from our regular library each week. It is rare that my students are reading more than 2 books at a time.
  • The conditions of my books were rarely reported to me. I wouldn't know about ripped covers or pages until another student found it on the shelf. My students know that I never get upset about this happening to a book, but I do love to know when it happens. Then I can take out my clear packing tape and try to perform book surgery to save the book. When I can't fix it, knowing the condition lets me know what books need to be replaced, which is helpful when we do our monthly Scholastic book order. 
  • Books went missing or were lost and never reported to me. A student would go to borrow a favorite book and it would be missing. Then I had to go through every single sign-out page to try to figure out who was ultimately responsible for the book, which was rarely a success. I don't mind if a book goes missing here and there, but over time, this can result in a lot of popular books not being returned and when it isn't reported to me, I don't even know I need to replace them. 
  • It took a long time for some students to write the title with their name and date on the sign-out sheet. 
  • There is no way to keep track of your inventory. With over 1,000 books, I have reached the point where I can barely remember which book I bought. That made it hard to order or buy new books without having my classroom library right in front of me.
At the end of the 2016-2017 school year, I was determined to spend my summer finding a solution to these problems. I began to inquire about possible solutions through social media networks. I received a lot of suggestions and tried quite a few, but each one seemed to be lacking the library management ease I was hoping for. Then, in one Facebook group, another teacher mentioned success with Booksource Classroom Organizer. I checked it out and it turned out to be exactly what I needed. I began using it last August and it has exceeded my expectations!

Booksource Classroom Organizer makes classroom library organization a breeze! It's a FREE web-based program that solves every single problem I listed above. You can add your books to create an inventory of your library and organize your library by genre or levels, depending on what you use. Most importantly, it makes the whole checkout process a breeze!

To get started, I created a free account and began to add my inventory. Because of my library size, this took me several sessions. At first, I was entering each ISBN by hand and that was pretty time-consuming. Another teacher mentioned that she purchased a scanner similar to the one that is often used in school libraries. I went on Amazon and found the reasonably-priced TaoTronics USB Barcode Scanner (not an affiliate link). Once I received that, entering my books was quick and easy!

After I'd scanned my entire library, I was ready for students to begin check out. From the very first day, this program was a breeze and I found myself grateful for it throughout the year. Here are several reasons why I love this program:
  • Checking books in and out is quick and easy. Students either check books out in the morning before announcements or during the day when they've finished an assignment early. I know they are being responsible because I can see them at the desktop computer that I've set up with the scanner and I hear the scanner beep when they check their book in or out. Scanning the book to check it out is a whole lot faster than writing down the title, their name, and the date of check out on a piece of paper.

  • Students are asked to review their books when they return it. We already do book reviews in my class, so this is a great chance for students to write a snippet review that peers can see when checking out their books.
  • My Dashboard gives me a great overview of student checkouts, overdue books, reviews to approve, and a nice breakdown of my inventory by genre. I definitely need more nonfiction! 
  • In the My Account section under Preferences, I can set exactly how many books each student can borrow at a time. If they haven't returned one at are at their max borrow limit, the system won't let them borrow a new one. I had zero problems with missing books this year - zero! I didn't think that was possible! 
  • Also in preferences, I can select how long students can borrow books before they are considered overdue. This is helpful because if I see that a student has had a book for over two weeks, I can have a conversation with them about it. We might determine that the book isn't interesting or isn't the right level for that student.
  • When students check in a book, they are asked to select the condition that it is in. I can add my own condition options for this in the preferences page I use to set checkout limits. 
  • I can print both classroom and student reports. For the classroom, this includes book checkout history, current books that are checked out, and overdue books. I print the current books list at the end of every week and use it as a 2-minute check-in to be sure that students still have the books on the list. I can also look at individual student checkout history and detail.
  • As long as I have access to the web, I have access to my inventory. I went on an Amazon spending spree last week, stocking up on lots of new books. I had a few on a wishlist that I thought I might have already purchased during the last school year. All I had to do was log on to my Booksource Classroom Organizer account and search for the books in my library. I had one title already, so I didn't end up making an unnecessary purchase. What a breeze! 

Those are my favorite features about this free program, but there's a lot of other great features, too. If you are looking for an effective way to manage your classroom library and make book checkout a breeze, I encourage you to explore this program. You won't be disappointed!


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