Lesson in Library Organization

Library Survey (2014-15):  "What was your least favorite part of library this year?" 

Overwhelming answer:  Reviewing at the beginning of the year. 

Ouch! Well, it has to be done because I get asked way too often how to find a book in the library by students who should know already.  Wait a minute. That can only mean that my lessons are boring and not getting through to them. That is definitely a problem! 

Our school library has some amazing resources and more are added every year. Still, it can be hard to find what you want when you don't know how the library is organized. It's even harder when students misshelve items while browsing because they don't understand the library has an organizational scheme. In fact, understanding how information is (or can be) organized is a powerful research and learning tool. So, it's critical that I find a way to make this lesson interesting enough to stick with them.

Everyone in kindergarten through 6th grade gets an overview of the zones of the library. I made this video a few years ago:

This gives students an understanding of our five basic zones: Easy, Fiction, Nonfiction, Biography, and Reference. You can be a better browser for books with just this basic level of understanding. I hear students singing this song to themselves throughout the year, so I know it's basic message is getting through.

All students check their own books into the library and are responsible for putting them on the Check-In Cart based on the zone of the library where they belong. They need to match the call number on the spine to the bucket labels.


This has been a problem. Some get it, but way too many do not. To make it clearer and hopefully more fun this year, we are using these new "books" I created for each table. Each set has sample books from each of our zones, so that students can practice sorting them into categories. Later, we'll use all 4 sets to talk about shelf order. 

Library "books" made from individual sized cereal boxes.

Students of all ages like an element of play to their learning. This activity should meet the criteria. Plus, I can pull it out for anyone who is struggling with it throughout the year. The four sets fit inside a large book box that I can keep in my back office for easy access.

The Catalog
Everyone likes to search the catalog, but not everyone is skilled at finding the call number and using it to get to the book on the shelf. This one takes some practice. I have college kids at my part-time job that still struggle with it. 

This week, third through sixth graders will also learn how to use the library catalog to find information about books in the library. I'm using this Library Catalog Scavenger Hunt. Working in teams of two there will be some friendly competition to keep everyone on track!

We'll finish it all off with a couple of rounds of Kahoot. I have a couple of good games stored to review the Zones of the Library and catalog searches. 

We have to cover the basics, but it doesn't have to be boring!


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