Booksource Classroom: How to Set it Up & Organize Your Classroom Library (Part 2)

If you missed it, my last blog post was all about how one classroom library management tool took me from disorganized, chaotic shelves to a streamlined, organized, and reader-friendly library system. Booksource Classroom was the free tool that changed the game for me and my students, and I want to share it with all of you, too! If you missed the last post, please head back there to learn how I got started, what the tool changed for me, and the most essential information for getting started on Booksource. This post will focus on how to set up Booksource and begin using it in your classroom!

Let’s get started! Here’s how to set up Booksource and get it ready for your readers:

How do you set up Booksource?

Glad you asked! The Booksource Classroom platform is very user-friendly, and they actually have a lot of information/tutorials for you, like this post and their entire help center. But here’s a quick overview of the steps to set up Booksource.

First, sign up for a free account.

You will need to create a classroom ID, classroom password, and a separate teacher-only password. I suggest making your classroom ID/password easy to remember for students. For example: “MissGBooks” as your ID. 

Scan in your classroom library books.

The first task to set up Booksource is scanning all of your books. While you can do this on the website or with a handheld scanner, I highly recommend using the app to scan in your books. It’s super quick. Like I mentioned in the first post, search “Booksource” on the app store and it 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 to app to scan books in (and you actually don’t even need the app to do that if you have a scanner and prefer to do it that way).

Scanning books in on the app

Adjust settings.

Determine if you want student passwords. (I don’t use them). If you’d like to turn this feature on, go to “Settings” on the left-hand menu and scroll down. You can also edit any other settings at this time. If you want to track overdue books and specify a time range, turn that on. To control what stats you and your students see in your library, scroll down to “Show/Hide Data.” For example, I hide AR/lexile data because I don’t believe in labeling books that way.

Create groups and add students.

When you are ready, create “groups” for your class periods. You can do this by selecting “Students” on the left-hand menu, going to “Edit groups,” and then pressing the “Add” button to the right. Then, when you have class rosters, add your students. You can do this manually by clicking “Add” and entering each student’s first name, last initial, and group, OR you can click “Import” and follow the instructions for importing class rosters from an Excel spreadsheet.

You’re good to go!

Once your books and students are loaded, you’re good to go! Before you show students how to use the platform, I recommend logging in as a student to see what it looks like from their perspective. I also recommend exploring your teacher dashboard and all of the other features Booksource offers. I’ll be explaining many of those features in the final blog post on this series, so stay tuned for that.

Do students need to create an account?

Nope! This is honestly the best part: no student accounts are needed to set up Booksource! Managing a million account usernames and passwords is stressful, especially in middle school. While you do have the option to turn on student passwords, the system works perfectly without them. Like I mentioned in part 1, all students need is access to the website. No app, no extension, no account, no password…just a student-friendly website. 🙂

Booksource Classroom login page

How do students search for books on the website?

Students can search for books by title through the search bar at the top right of the student screen. If you have books categorized by genre, they should be able to search through that, but I don’t have that set up, so I can’t attest to what it looks like.

Checking out books on Booksource Classroom

What does the book checkout process look like? Is it quick?

Super quick! As I described in the first post, students will log in to Booksource Classroom HERE and enter your classroom ID & password. Then, they will be prompted to choose their “group” (class period) and select their name. (If you have student passwords set up, they’ll have to enter those, too.)

Then, students will need to find their book through the search bar. From there, they will click on the text and select “Check out.” It takes less than a minute, but make sure students have easy access to the website. I recommend having it linked on your LMS and asking students to bookmark it.

Checking out a book on Booksource

What do students do to return a book?

To return, students follow the same process logging in. Instead of clicking “Checkout and Read,” they will click “Return Books.” Students select the book, click “return,” rate the book out of 5 stars (if you have that feature set up), and then click “return” again. When students return a book online, they also return in to our turn-in bin in our classroom library.

Returning books on Booksource Classroom

How does it work from the student’s perspective?

To do anything on Booksource Classroom, students will need access to the website. Again, they do NOT need the app. When students log in to Booksource, they will get a split screen: “Teacher” on the left and “Student” on the right. (Have no fear: The teacher side is password protected so only you can access that). From there, students will click on their group/class, and then their name. If you have student passwords set up, students will need to input their password. After that, it’s all pretty self explanatory, as I described in the above questions about the checkout/return processes.

Booksource: Teacher & Student Portal

Can you organize by genre?

You can, but you have to manually enter the genre. I haven’t gotten around to doing this, and I’m not sure that I ever will. My physical library is organized by genre, so students find books there and then pull them up on Booksource, rather than the other way around.

For students, Booksource isn’t really a searching tool; it’s simply a way to check out and return books. On your end, it’s much more: It’s an organizational tool with great reporting features, library audits, suggestions, and more.

If your classroom library is organized by genre or your students are often gravitating toward favorite genres, then check out these genre-based book recommendation brochures for middle and high school. 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 won’t run out of books to read!

How are books organized in the system? Is it alphabetical?

Yes, the books show up in alphabetical order when you open up the library (whether you are in the teacher or student view). However, you can search and filter your library view depending on your preferences. More on that in the following post in this series!

Does it match with systems like AR or provide Lexile level?

When you upload books into your Booksource library, you can see each text’s interest level, lexile, AR level/point value, and guided reading level (if applicable). I’ve never used AR (and never will), so I don’t know much beyond that!

Do you let every student use the program, or do you have a class librarian do it for students?

I let every student check out and return books on Booksource. It works well because each student is responsible for their checkout activity, so I can easily pinpoint where any books went missing and check in with the appropriate students.

How much time does it take to set up Booksource?

This is such a great question that I put it to the test and timed myself scanning books in and setting things up on Booksource. Here’s what I learned and the time commitment you can expect:

  • Scanning inventory: It took me 2 minutes & 15 seconds to scan in 15 books, so about 10 seconds per book (using the app scanner). With a classroom library of over 700 books, this means in, total, I’ve spent a little over 2 hours scanning books in. Not bad when you considered it’s frontloaded and then done in couple-minute chunks here and there.
  • Setting up groups: It takes seconds to form groups!
  • Uploading students: If you enter students manually, it takes a little less than 5 minutes per class (assuming a class size of 30). If you upload rosters, it’s much quicker!
  • Tweaking settings: It takes just a few minutes to check/uncheck different features.

Let’s say you have a classroom library of 300 books + 6 classes of 30 students. You’re only looking at 1.5 hours to set everything up. When you keep in mind that scanning books (the most time-consuming task) is mindless and easy, that’s not bad at all for setting up an entire system that will last you forever.

I hope this post helps you get started organizing your classroom library with Booksource.

Don’t forget that I will be elaborating on Booksource’s features and answering a few final questions in a following blog post, so stay tuned for that! While you’re waiting, set up Booksource so you’re ready to fully explore the tool by the final post. 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 3 of this blog series on Booksource!

While you’re waiting for part 3, want to steal my system for getting students hooked on books?

No offense to your beautiful, newly organized classroom library, but your books are no good without a system to get your readers HOOKED and reading them! One of my favorite, easiest ways to do just that is Book Trailer Tuesday! Book trailers will expose students to books in a way that your bookshelves just can’t, so bring them to life on the big screen with book trailers!

If you show a Book Trailer every Tuesday, you will expose your readers to 36 new books by the end of the year. That’s 36 chances for readers to find their next favorite read. And all you have to do is press play!

To make Book Trailer Tuesday even easier for you, I’ve organized FREE master lists of links for the entire year, for both middle and high school. You can click HERE to grab those goodies…your readers will thank you later!

Looking for more resources to help your students fall in love with reading? You’ll love the following book recommendation systems that get good books into the hands of your readers:

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