How to Organize Books in an Elementary School Library

Organize books for easy student access.

Access to high-quality, age-appropriate reading material is vital to ensure the development of students' reading skills. By establishing a well-stocked and logically organized library, an elementary school can increase the likelihood that students read regularly and build their literary skills. There are an assortment of ways that you can go about organizing a school library to ensure that students can easily access reading material that is appropriate and of interest to them. Choose a method to create a cohesive system of organization in your fledgling library.

1 Organize by Reading Level

2 Determine the reading level for each book

Determine the reading level for each book. The reading level for many children's books can be found near the bar code. Look for a number marked “RL” for reading level or “Ages” to indicate the ages for which the book is intended.

3 Sort your books

Sort your books from lowest reading level to highest to create a hierarchy of difficulty.

4 Place the lowest reading level books

Place the lowest reading level books on the bottom shelves, and move up from there. Your lower reading level students will likely be your shorter younger students. By placing the lower reading level books closer to the ground, you are ensuring that these early readers have ready access to reading materials at their levels. The taller students, who likely have a higher reading level, will be more capable of collecting books from higher shelves.

5 Organize by Genre

6 Determine the genre for each book

Determine the genre for each book. Read the back of each book to determine into which genre that book most appropriately fits.

7 Sort them by these genres

Sort them by these genres, grouping books of like types. Stack your books in piles with other books of the same genre.

8 Dedicate a shelf to each genre

Dedicate a shelf to each genre. Place the stacked books together on a shelf so that all of the books that fit into each designated genre sit close to each other in the library.

9 Label

Label the shelves so library users can easily find books in a genre that interests them. Use large font signs to label the shelves. This allows students to quickly go to the genre that interests them when they are looking for books in the library.

10 Organize by Dewey Decimal System

11 Determine the Dewey Decimal number

Determine the Dewey Decimal number of each book. In the Dewey Decimal System, each book has a unique number based upon both the genre of the book, as well as identifying information including the title and the author. To determine the Dewey decimal system for a book, you can either search that book in the catalog of your area library, or buy one of the Dewey Decimal classification systems, available from the OCLC.

12 Using sticky tags and tape

Label the books with the decimal number using sticky tags and tape. To ensure that the book is easily identified, label it both on the spine and on the front cover.

13 Sort the books by decimal number

Sort the books by decimal number, starting at the bottom left shelf, and moving across and up. Place your labeled books in numerical order so that they can be easily accessed by students who wish to use the library.

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.