Trying to keep track of 1000 books, checked out by about 80 students is a challenge! Some years are better than others, but every year, about half a dozen books go missing and bunch get "retired" because they're so roughed up. But the challenge is keeping track of them all. Especially the ones that are in high demand.
I've always had a pretty simple check-out system. Students had to write their name, the date, and the title of their book in a binder on the counter near the bookshelves. When they returned the book, they just needed to draw a line through their name. Easy, right? It should have been! But it wasn't.
It's for that reason that some teachers don't have a check-out system in place at all, but I can't quite be that loose about things. I spend a lot of my own money for books and I hate seeing books disappear.
Halfway through last year (yeah, I know, good timing!) I started to use Booksource rather than my usual paper and pencil check-out. It took a lot of student helpers to get it up and running, but it was worth it. While Booksource isn't perfect, I love that it emails me when a student has had a book for more than two weeks. In sixth grade, some kids need more than two weeks to finish a book, and that's fine. I just like that this keeps track of which student has which book.
Best of all, it's free!
You scan the barcode on the back of your books and it assigns them a code. You can add location (I put genres in, since that's how my books are organized, but if you have them by bins, you could just put in the bin number.)
Last year, rather than introduce Booksource to all of my students, I decided to pilot test it with one class. They loved it and so did I. In fact, they told some of my other students about it, so those students just put their names in and checked out books that way, too.
All it takes is an iPad or an iPhone. We have ten iPads in my classroom and Booksource downloaded on all of them. That way, it's pretty easy to grab any one of them to check out or return a book.
If this sounds like a commercial for Booksource, it's not! I don't get anything from writing about it. I'm just on the lookout for a system that doesn't make me work harder, and I think this might be it. For now.
What do you use for your classroom library? Please share stories, because I'd love to learn if there's something even better out there!