Introduction: Classroom Library Organization

Over the last 9 years I've amassed a huge library in my classroom. To make it easier for me to find specific books, as well as for my students to find books that are appropriate for them, I started color coding everything. I made little color code charts that I posted around my books and I give one to the students to keep in their binders.


Multiple rolls of thin tape in various colors (Washi tape, etc.)

White sticker labels that can be colored in.

Step 1: Getting Organized

Initially I had bought a bunch of cheap black shelves from Walmart for all of my books, but those took up a lot of space and didn't hold up well. Eventually I asked our maintenance department to install real shelves along the walls and open space in my classroom. They've done an amazing job.

Before I could label all of the books, I sorted them by genre. Which is what you see happening in the first photo along with the black shelves I tossed.

The second photo shows my new shelves and the third shows the books on the shelves (and a lot on the floor, which is why I had to have more shelves put in.) If you look closely at the third picture, you can see color labels on all of the books.

Step 2: By Genre

When I first started color coding my books, I did it by genre. I made a little chart with the different genres I had and put a piece of the matching tape next to it's corresponding genre. Then I placed the same tape at the bottom of each book.

All of the books on my shelves are organized by genre. This makes it easier for me to find what I'm looking for and for my students to find books matching their interest on their own. It also shows students where to put the books back when they're done, rather than sticking the books in random places.

Step 3: By Lexile

Later, I started labeling all of my books according to lexile levels. This makes it easier for the students to pick out books that are at appropriate levels for them, without it being a big deal or students being worried about being made fun of.

Lexile levels do not correspond to grade levels. A student reading a book that has a 400L lexile, does not mean that student is reading at a 4th grade level. Lexile numbers tell you how complex a text is and helps teachers match students with appropriate reading materials.

There are various options for matching students with lexile numbers, my school uses the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI).

For labeling books with a lexile number, I used blank labels and colored them in for each level. I actually had my students help me with a lot of this part because it was a little tedious.

For books that didn't already have a lexile number printed on the back, I used to find lexile numbers.

Step 4: Closing for Summer

My school is 11 months, so we have classes in July. Usually around mid-July I close up my classroom library to borrowing so that I can inventory and make sure all the books borrowed have been returned.

I like being a little dramatic about the books being unavailable and will use masking tape and signs or caution tape to "rope" everything off.

Classroom Organization Challenge

First Prize in the
Classroom Organization Challenge