Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Classroom Library {Part 3} Book Check-Out and Return Procedures

Today I want to tell you about my check out and return procedures.... Last year was the first year I had students take home my personal classroom library books.  I never had to have a check-out procedure before and I knew I didn't want to put library pockets and cards in all my books... I felt like that was too tedious of a process and even then, if a student didn't check out a book properly, you wouldn't know who had the book anyway.  Also, I have a pretty large classroom library (about 700+ books) and that would be pretty costly to do that-not to mention time consuming!

So after a little research, I decided to have my students write down what book they were reading on index cards and keeping them in one place in the room (in a pocket chart).  When they were done reading the book, they would put one line through it and then they could check out a new one.  This system was ok....but I wouldn't recommend it.   It didn't flow.

So this year, I've done a LOT of research on other classroom libraries...  I've found some cool stuff that I want to share with you, and then I will share what I plan to use in my classroom.

Cool Stuff I've Found:
Booksource Classroom Organizer
Ok folks.... this is a FREE website that you can use to create a book check out system.  If you have an Iphone, you can scan in the bar codes as well with your phone... and it is FREE.  I am totally going to try this system out when I get the time! :)

BookCat w/ CueCat Scanner
This is an online system where you import all of your book titles and use a scanner (just like an actual library would) to check out books to students!  The upside to this system is that you know exactly who has the book and you can return them using the scanner too.  You will also have a complete list of all of your classroom library books.  The downside is that it does cost money (about $55 for both the program and the scanner) and you will have to spend the time to type in all of your titles.  I would eventually like to go to this seems pretty awesome!

Book Check Out Cards
This teacher from Teaching In Room 6 blog has a free and easy way to manage her checked out books.

My Check-Out Procedure:
Due to the fact that I will have very limited funds to start off my classroom this year and will be new to the school (so I will need to purchase more supplies than usual), I will probably not be able to purchase the BookCat system above.  So, I've found another FREE alternative that will work well and will be easy for me as well.

I like the idea of the Book Check Out Cards in the link above, however, I would rather have an online system.  I found THIS system from the blog, Go Fourth with Mrs. Owens. (She also has a lot of other great ideas on her blog- I definitely recommend checking it out!)  Basically, you use Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) to create an online "form" that your students can fill out any time they check out a book.  Whenever the form is filled out, it automatically goes to a spreadsheet in your Google Docs folder! This way you will know who has which book and when!   Tomorrow I will be doing a more in-depth tutorial (with screen shots) to show you how I modified her idea to more fit my classroom.

But I think that the most important thing, no matter what system you choose to use is to have ONE day where students can "shop" for books.  Have them choose several books on that day and after having checked them out, have them keep those books in a book box or bag somewhere in the room- so they will always know where they are located and they will always have extra books to read during the week so that they can never say "I don't have a book to read," and waste their whole reading time searching for a book.

Also, having ONE shopping time for the class will enable you to help students check out all of the books and to make sure that they are doing the check out process correctly.  (After the first couple of months of training the students how to do this, you could then release that job to another student.)

My Return Procedure:
Last year, I just let the students put the books back when they were finished with them.  A lot of times, this resulted in the books being put back in the wrong places.

So, this year I will have a Book Return Bin.  Basically it will just be a crate or a basket with a label on it.  That way, I can check the books back in (see tomorrow's post).  This way I can be sure that whoever checked it out turned it back in.  I can also see which student was responsible if there was damage to the book.

After I've checked the book back in, then I will put it in another bin marked Ready to Reshelve.   I am going to have one of my classroom jobs be the Classroom Librarian, who will return the books to their correct baskets when they are in the Ready to Reshelve basket.

Update 4-29-13
I have tweaked my book return system.  Now, instead of just having a bin where they return the books, I only allow them to return books on certain days (for me it is Thursdays and Fridays) so I do not have to keep an extra bin cluttering up my room all week long and so that they do not waste class time returning books.

My New and Improved Book Return Procedure:
I had a lot of trouble at first when trying to check in books- I had students put their name on a sticky note and then put their books in a stack on my desk.  Let's just say massive piles of books on my desk and students with giant backpacks knocking these over made for a very stressed out teacher!  

So, I cut some construction paper to index-card size (you could just use index cards- I didn't have any at the time) in 3 different colors (one color for each block I see).  Then I put their names on the cards and laminated them.  

On check-IN day, students take any books they want to return and put them in a ziplock gallon-sized bag with their name card facing out.  Then they put the bag in the return bin.  If they have books too big for the ziplock, they put their name on each book that won't fit with a sticky note.  

Then, whenever I am ready to check them in, I can! No mess, no hassle and it makes the whole process SO much easier! :)

Note:  I keep all of the plastic bags folded in half in a small plastic tub along with the name cards for easy storage.  When I check in books, I will take one student's books out of the plastic bag, fold the bag, delete the rows (see Part 4 of this series on how to delete rows), put the books in the Ready to Reshelve basket and the card back in it's pile.  Then I move on to the next student's books.  It might take 30 minutes or so to do 85 student's books- keep in mind not all students check out books or return books each week.

Here are some FREE labels for your baskets!  Print these labels on colored cardstock and laminate... they work great with any color scheme in any classroom!  Enjoy! :)

Update (8-8-12)  I also found this cute Book Hospital Sign & Book Return sign for free! :) 

I really think that this system will work well for me and for the students.  I am totally excited to use it!  How do you check out books in your classroom?

Thanks for sharing!