Discover more from Young at Heart
Library organization at home & school
🤓 how I've reorganized the school library and thoughts for the home library
Happy new year! (We can say that for the whole month of January, right?)
I thought I would share a few of the ways I’ve updated my school library and see how it translates to home libraries, just in case someone is motivated to do a home library refresh in the new year. This might be a niche post but I feel like some of you might be curious about these nerdy details.
First of all, let’s talk about the elephant in the room and say that yes, I am a school librarian, and yes I do have some color-coded bookshelves at home. 🤷🏼♀️ I just love the aesthetic of a rainbow shelf. I will say that I am gradually color-coding less of my books though (or at least, color-coding within categories). I will keep my picture books at home color-coded though forever, because they are mainly on the shelf for nostalgia’s sake at this point and I know their spines well enough to find what I’m looking for if I ever want one. The home library is functional, but it also serves as a centerpiece of the home so aesthetic is important here for me. 😍
First: the school library. Here are some changes I’ve made to the organization of the school collection:
Keep series together. In my opinion, it was a big mistake to have multi-author series shelved by author rather than all together. This is how my public library does it, too. So I’ve found all these scattered titles and put them together. For example, the Dear America series is now all shelved under FIC DEA instead of my author, same for 39 Clues (now FIC 39), Disney Fairies, etc. Kids rarely know the authors of these series so I think they’ll be more likely to consume a series if the books are all together.
Easy Reader (1-4 leveled books) separate from picture books. Again, this is how the public library does it but our library had them mixed in with the picture books where they got lost in the shuffle. I remember my daughter reading these by the basketful when she was little and when they are shelved by number they are more easily accessed and kids can move through the levels as they see fit. I put numbers on the spines in corresponding shades of green for these so they are easy to shelve.
Biographies by category. All our biographies were shelved together, but I split them up by category. This way if a kid wants to read about a famous woman in history they don’t have to scan all the shelves. I also placed some categories near their corresponding nonfiction books. So the sports biographies are right after the sports nonfiction books. Sports lovers know exactly where to find them now. Musician and artist biographies are placed after the art and music nonfictions books. Our biography books are getting a lot more circulation this way. Eventually I plan to add an extra spine label to each category so shelving is easier, too.
Graphic novels have their own shelf. Some kids love these and check them out exclusively. In my opinion, its their prerogative and I love that they are reading anything (I owe you a whole newsletter on graphic novels at some point). I do have one teacher who has prohibited her students from checking them out. I dislike this strongly but I defer to the teachers for their class rules, so I just tell the kids they can come in and read them in the library at recess anytime if they want.
Popular series have their own shelf. This helps the kids find them easily, and helps me monitor them. I do usually have a 1-book per series limit, mostly because I want to share the love. I make exceptions sometimes, especially for the series where we now have lots of copies. This area also has a new cute mini-shelf (which I built myself today!) for my current recommended books.
Thanks for reading Young at Heart! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Now for the home library. This is a very subjective topic but I do have some thoughts on my own collection. Maybe you do things similarly or differently? Let’s discuss.
Keep series together. As in the school library, I keep my series together at home. On each shelf I have all my series together on one side of the shelf, along with books by an author that all match (like Emily Henry’s romance books).
Currently, I have standalones color-coded within categories. I have shelves for early chapter books, middle grade, YA, adult fiction/narrative nonfiction /memoir (nonfiction that reads like a novel), other adult nonfiction. So next to all the series, the standalones are color-coded on their respective category shelf, though I may alphabetize some of the categories in the future.
Separate TBR books. I don’t own a ton of books I haven’t read, but I do keep those that I have separate, either stacked on the ends, sort of like bookends (and therefore necessary to my shelf organization, insert evil laugh here), or on their own part of the shelf (also color-coded). I haven’t read every kids’ book we own (looking at you, Matt Christopher books), and some I have no intention of reading so I leave them mixed in with the rest.
Use books as bookends. Speaking of stacking books on the end like my TBR books, I also use other big books, and some old books and classics on the other side of the shelves as bookends. Many of my dictionaries work well for this, as well the collected works of Shakespeare, a book of quotations, and various Bibles.
Mix things up. On my top shelf (nonfiction), I have some books stacked horizontally and some the normal way, just for fun. I like how it looks. I am easily able to take my librarian hat off at home, as you can see. 😄 You will also, almost always, find some scattered books laying on their sides randomly on the shelves, whether they were removed for a photo op or are new and haven’t been fit in yet, or just recently read or whatever. It’s not a museum; it doesn’t have to be perfect.
So, some organization translates well from library to home and in some ways the home library gives us the freedom to do whatever the heck we want with our books. I’d love to hear how you organize your books— do you do anything that was inspired by a library or bookstore you visited?