If you are a coach like me, you have several hundred picture books and other mentor texts you use as coaching tools throughout the school year. Over the years, I've tried to organize them so that they are easily accessible, in a system that works for me. I group many mentor texts alphabetically by writing traits on my bookshelves. This enables me to group books with similar craft moves together. When I buy new books, I still determine which of the six traits is most evident in each particular one, and that is how they get shelved. I also color-code each book with a colored star sticker on the spine—a different color for word choice, voice, fluency, organization, ideas, and conventions. In addition I have an inventory that I keep by trait in an Excel spreadsheet. When teachers ask to borrow books, I have tried to be diligent in signing them out. Seems efficient, right? Here is where the problems begin.
Over the past few years I have lost several books because I haven't remembered to check out every single book I've lent. I know they are still out there in good hands, but some gems just haven't been returned. At the end of every school year I take an inventory of my books and have to send an email (or three) begging teachers to check their bookshelves, children's book bags, desks, and the book rooms in our three elementary buildings and middle school for these missing books. Sometimes there have been more than 30 books on the list. That may not seem like a lot compared with the hundreds I have, but if those aren't returned, and another year goes by and another 30 or so go missing, well, you see the progression!
Heather, my coaching partner, had had enough of those emails (and the missing books). She recommended a site that will put an end to missing books forever: Booksource Classroom Organizer. This free organizational tool will save me from ever having to send random emails to the entire staff. There is a free app for your iPad or phone that allows you to scan the barcode of every book, and it adds it to your own book library list. If a book doesn't have an ISBN, you can type the title in manually. Also, if it is current enough, it adds a picture of your book. While adding books to your library, you can also categorize them. I was able to categorize them by trait, but you can add different categories. The site calls them "locations." On your computer, you are able to manage your library by adding or deleting titles, search for books on your list, manage locations, and manage genres.
But that isn't the best part. You can add student or teacher names to your classroom list, and check out books in a couple of different ways. You choose a name and scan the barcode on the book they want to borrow, and it is "checked out" automatically. Or if the book doesn't have a barcode (some of my best books are that old), you can search by title and click the check-out button, and it still gets added to their list. Automatically, the website creates a list of books and who they are checked out to. I can print these book lists by teacher, and won't have to send annoying emails to everyone. When books are returned, you can scan them back in by teacher, and they are off the list.
Teachers can also use this site to manage their own classroom libraries. With a different password the site even has a function that allows students to check out books independently. They sign in as a student, and are able to search the title and add it to their list. No more books will be lost in the caverns of desks.
I have well over 1,000 titles, and it didn't take that long to scan all of my books into the system. I even scanned in all my professional titles. All of the teachers in our elementary buildings and middle school are in the system, and we are ready for next year! Because it is so easy to scan a book to check it out, I will be able to check my books out to people without fear of them being "borrowed" forever. And best of all for the teachers I work with, no more "missing book" emails!