My Classroom Library, BB (Before Booksource)
If you know me in real life (or even in any online space), you probably know that organization is not my forte. I’m more of an organized chaos type of gal, and I own it. For the first 7 years of my teaching career, my classroom library was no exception to this general rule. In fact, when I moved down to 7th grade after teaching high school for 6 years, I started my teeny tiny classroom library from scratch with absolutely NO system. No alphabetical order, no labels, no real checkout system, nothing. My beginning collection was so small that organization felt pointless. Thankfully, I grew my library surely but slowly. Students found the books they needed one way or the other, and I did my best to keep up with my checkout system of scattered sticky notes and a Google doc I forgot to update.
By the end of the year, I had lost a few books, which was a little disheartening, but fine, really. But more importantly, I knew deep down that my classroom library was not user-friendly, for me or my students. I needed a system. After hearing about Booksource Classroom for years, I decided to give it a try.
My Classroom Library, AB (After Booksource)
Almost a year later and I’m here to report that Booksource has been a GAME-CHANGER for our classroom library. In fact, I realized at the end of the year that all books made their way back to me. Not a single missing book–that’s practically unheard of in a classroom library with hundreds of books. But even better than that was just how easy it was to keep up with student checkouts and returns. With Booksource, my students were in charge of handling their own library activity; all I had to do was oversee checkout history and check in with readers as needed. It was such an easy, seamless system that this type-b teacher was able to stick with it. And this is coming from the queen of Not Committing to Systems.
It’s safe to say that Booksource is here to stay. So consider this a PSA: If you’re feeling disorganized and overwhelmed with the state of your classroom library like I was last year, CHECK OUT BOOKSOURCE. You’re going to want it ready to go for this upcoming school year, so it’s worth a little bit of setup now.
Want to learn more about Booksource?
If you’re ready to thank your future self for setting up Booksource, then here’s everything you need to know to get started, in FAQ form. All of these questions were submitted to me via Instagram. I received so many questions that part 2 and 3 posts are coming soon, too. So if you have a question that is not listed here, please leave a comment or reach out to me on Instagram so I can address it in my next post! 🙂
What is Booksource Classroom?
Booksource Classroom is a free classroom library management tool that helps you create and maintain an inventory of your library while allowing your students to easily check out and return titles online. In addition to helping you efficiently maintain your classroom library, Booksource also helps you analyze and improve it, though audits and reports that focus on diversity and inclusion, reading level, and more. (More on those in the future posts!) It also helps you keep track of students’ checkout history and get a feel for what your classes are reading at a glance. It does even more, but I won’t overwhelm you with all of its capabilities right now. Just know that it’s a powerhouse of a tool that will help you work smarter, not harder.
Is there an app?
Yes, there is an app. If you search “Booksource” on the app store, the app should pop right up. The app is actually named “Classroom Organizer” (with the green icon). Don’t be deterred by the negative reviews, because you only need the app to scan books in (and you actually don’t even need the app to do that if you have a scanner). You can do the rest on Booksource’s website, which is very user-friendly. Don’t try to do much else on the app, because it’s limited. I usually only use the app to scan new books in and check my library to see if I own a copy of a book (when I’m out book shopping and forget what I have).
Is it completely free? No paid version?
Yes, it’s COMPLETELY FREE. There is no paid version for them to upsell, either…it’s all totally free, and that’s why I love it. I actually appreciate the tool so much that I would pay for it; it’s that good. (JK if you see this, Booksource! Keep it free forever!)
Do you need a scanner?
Nope! If you have a scanner, you can use it to add books to your library. But you can easily scan books in through your phone with the app. I’ve successfully added 700+ books to my classroom library through the in-app photo scanner. If you have a large collection of books, don’t let this deter you. It’s manageable, and once you upload all of your titles, your hard work is DONE.
Is it easy to scan in your books?
Yes! The in-app photo scanner makes it super easy to quickly scan in your books. It’s pretty mindless work; all you have to do is click “scan,” hover your phone over the ISBN barcode, and then click “add” when the title automatically populates. If you’re transitioning your library over to Booksource, you can add a shelf or two of books at the beginning or end of each school day and have your whole library entered by the end of the week. If you have a little extra time to spare and want to crank it out in one session, pop on a podcast or audiobook, and you’ll have it done in less time than you’d think! And if you’re super overwhelmed, ask someone to help you or recruit your students’ help at the beginning of the year.
Who is in charge of checking out/returning books?
Students can check out and return books all on their own, but I suppose you could manage it all for them if you wanted to for some reason. Personally, I think having the students in charge of the process is what makes a library management system like this so appealing. With students checking out and returning books online, all I have to do is monitor and reshelve (and I can always get help with these tasks, too).
Do students have to download something for it to work?
No, students do not need to download anything. They can access the entire Booksource platform via the website, which makes it ideal for any device (iPad, Chromebook, even a phone).
What grades would this work for? Would this work for elementary?
Booksource would probably work for upper elementary, but I’m not sure how it would work for 3rd grade and lower, unless you had students bring all books to you and you checked out/returned them all on your end. Maybe that feels like it’s defeating the purpose, but if you want the organizational support (the reports/audits), it might be worth it.
How do students check out books?
To check out books, students will log in to Booksource HERE, enter your classroom ID & password (the same for everyone). Then, they will be prompted to choose their “group” (their class period) and select their name. If you have student passwords set up, they’ll have to enter those, too. (I don’t have that feature turned on, and I’ve had no issues.) From there, they click “Check Out and Read” and then search for the book they want and follow the directions that pop up. (More on this process in the next post in this series).
Is Booksource more efficient than a physical notebook checkout system?
Yes, I absolutely think so. Prior to using Booksource, I was using a Google doc with students’ names and book titles. It worked okay (when I remembered to update it) but Booksource does so much more and does it all better. It simply does not compare to a traditional checkout system! These are the features I love the most:
- The online inventory
- The checkout reports, student reading reports, and other report features
- The LibraryLens features, especially the Diversity audit
- The specific recommendations to improve my classroom library
I’ll be sharing more about these specific features in my following blog posts, so stay tuned for those.
I hope this information was helpful! Stay tuned for a part 2 post!
I’ll be elaborating on many of these features in part 2 of this blog post, so stay tuned for that. While you’re waiting, I hope this post has inspired you to check out Booksource Classroom and even get a head start scanning in your books. Please let me know if you have any questions once you start the setup or if there’s anything you’d love to see answered in part 2!
In the meantime, are you ready to level up your classroom library and independent reading program?
An organized, accessible library is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to fostering a love for reading in your classroom. In addition to providing students with access to books, it’s important to think about how you will get those good books into the hands of your readers. How will students know what to read next? How will you recommend books to students who never know what to read? How will you help students learn to self-select books they will end up loving?
If you’re looking for a system to help you do all of that, you’ll love my collection of genre-based book recommendation brochures. These unique resources feature fun reader personality quizzes that automatically give readers book recommendations tailored to their interests. Inside each brochure, readers will find 6 featured high-interest books, complete with no-spoilers summaries. On the back, students can check out 25+ additional recommendations, so they’ll never run out of books to read.
Looking for more resources to help your students fall in love with reading? Check out the following:
- FREE Book Trailer Tuesday Links for the Entire Year – Middle & High School
- Visual Book Recommendation Posters – Middle School
- Visual Book Recommendation Posters – High School
If you liked this post, check out the following:
- 5 Ways to Help Students Fall in Love With Reading
- 5 Ways to Use Overdrive (& Help Your Students Read More)
- 10 Reasons to Try First Chapter Friday
- Book Trailer Tuesday: How to hook students on books in 3 minutes!
- Book Recommendation Brochures: FAQ
- 15 Ways to Use Book Recommendation Brochures
- 10 Ways to Use Book Recommendation Posters in the ELA Classroom