This post is part of my Setting Up Your Classroom Series. Click here to view more posts from the series.

The library is an important part of the classroom. I'm going to skip the statistics on how many books per child you need and whatnot because, quite frankly, I haven't a clue. In my opinion though, you should have lots and lots and lots.

Click here to see how I get oodles of free books for my library each year.

Setting up and organizing a classroom library has a lot to do with personal preference, grade level and space. You want to make it easy for the students to use and easy for you to manage. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • From my experience, I've found that having an elaborate check-out system is not necessary. A few books may be lost or damaged over the course of the year, but the time necessary to manage a check-out system doesn't always prevent this from happening. Instead, establish expectations and procedures for respecting the books and using the library.
  • I've recently broken my library up and spread it around the classroom. I really like this as it enables more children to browse comfortably. I have a section for my leveled picture books, a section for my chapter books (organized by series, genre and favorite authors), and a non-fiction section. I also have a section for the text books and reference books (i.e. dictionaries and thesaurus). I love that my kids are "surrounded by literature."
  • Find a way to make your books face forward. Students are not likely to select them if the spines are showing. The covers are much more enticing.
  • Consider rotating your books or creating a themed section to increase interest and keep things fresh.
  • Decide how you want your books to be sorted and labeled and plan how adding books in the future will effect that.
  • Using uniform baskets/bins creates an organized look.
  • Create a "return bin" for students to put books into. Have a parent volunteer or responsible student librarian return them from there to their actual basket.
  • Set rules / guidelines for using the library. In my classroom the students are each assigned a day to access the classroom library and pick books for their bag. They may also request a conference with me to discuss what they've read and can pick books afterwards.
  • Add the words, "The classroom library is CLOSED when I am absent to your substitute teacher plans." Just trust me on this one.

This teacher explains a wonderful activity she did to teach her students about genre at the start of the new year. Read her blog post here.

Super cute pillows...and they were made with tacky glue. As a non-sewer, I can get on board with this idea.

This teacher has as smaller-sized library and swaps out the books. She writes:
"Beside the mail boxes is my reading center. I have my books stored in baskets by genre, or author, or subject matter. This is about 1/6 of my books. I don't have enough shelves to put them all out at once. It's kind of refreshing to be able to switch them out. The kids enjoy the new books."

I adore this classroom. The color scheme is so calming and the organization makes my heart skip a beat. This teacher split her library up into different parts of the room (see below).

Another library that is calming. Using containers that create uniformity is a great way to pull everything together.

Love the whimsical look of this library.

Teachers Who Have Shared Their Library Online

Beth Newingham takes library organization to a whole other level. Read about her systems and see a video of her library here.

Here's a link to ideas from teachers on how they manage their libraries.

Pick and click any or all of the options below.

By the way, if you are not already subscribed to The Clutter-Free Classroom newsletter I encourage you sign up. Subscribers receive weekly tips for organizing and managing a classroom as well as exclusive free printables. You can sign up here.