Behind the Shelves: Easy Library Changes

Hi Sarah, Can you tell me more about the nonfiction floor signs you posted the other day?

I received this question on Instagram last week, and I’m happy to share a closer look at some of our recent library updates! There has been a definite theme for our recent library changes: EASY. As in, what can I do to make this space easier for my readers, interns, and parent volunteers to navigate confidently? Our library is home to about 500 readers in kindergarten through 8th grade. All students are in and out each week, as well as a lovely army of parent volunteers who check books in and out and keep our shelving carts clear (thank you!). After I weeded a ton of books this summer, some of our collection shifted, and it got me thinking about how the space can work better for readers of all ages.

Here are some of the simple changes we’ve implemented, and details on how they’re working for us so far:



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New signage on floors and shelves

IMG_9576This signage features both words and pictures, so readers of all levels can find titles that they love. Each Dewey Decimal category is marked by colorful sign, bordered by duct tape of the same color. The tape then stretches along the shelf the entire length of the section, making from the beginning to the end. Color coding makes it easy to see the full breadth of each section (and students with color vision deficiency can see where the tape breaks vs connects).

Within each color-coded section, major topics are marked with printed clipart pictures  taped to the floor. The idea is that if a kiddo puts their feet on the picture of the dinosaur, they’ll find themselves looking right at the books about dinosaurs. Some topics also have Braille signage attached to the shelves, which was designed and 3D printed by fourth graders last year as part of their Design Thinking project. Shelves have new signage too, to help library users of all ages navigate our color-coded sections. Signage is a constant work in progress in our busy K-8 library! Check this video to see our nonfiction floor signage in action.

Drop  Spots

IMG_9575Spot a purple question mark? Those mean you’ve found a Drop Spot – a perfect place to leave a book you’ve changed your mind about so it can get put back in just the right library location. This might be my favorite update, as no matter how well you train middle schoolers, they will always have an urge to shove a book back onto a random shelf when class is over and they have the chance to go outside. Now that dropping it as just as easy as shoving it somewhere random – maybe even easier! – I’m finding less books propped and left behind in weird places. We have one of these in the back of the library near the biggest open reading spots, and another in the front by the door.

New High-Interest Baskets

RIMG_9578eaders can now find their favorite topics in easy-to-find and organize baskets, located on the black table by the Look Who’s Reading wall. These baskets include favorites like Minecraft, Star Wars, World Records, jokes and riddles, ghost stories, and more. If the drop spots are my favorite, then these baskets are definitely the favorites of my readers! I don’t know what took me so long to jump onto this train. We use stainless steel pantry baskets, which aren’t cheap, but they’re perfect for the job. These have made such a difference in kid frustration levels that I’m looking forward to adding a few more – including unicorns, dragons, illustrated novels, and seasonal topics like football, holidays, and celebrations.

Series Signs

IMG_9572My series readers are constantly having to ask Google (or, even worse, wait in line to ask me) to find out which book comes next. I have a life dream of numbering the spines of each series, but I don’t know when I’ll have the time and patience to make that happen. In the meantime, I found these series signs by awesome librarian @thebookwrangler, which give the correct order of popular series from start to finish with both titles and covers. We taped them directly to the shelf where the series is found, easy to spot and even easier to read. My hope is that readers will never have to wait in line just to ask “But which book comes next?!” ever again!


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