Here are a few ideas that I thought of and a few I found as I was searching online. I have not used any of the digital checkout systems, so please make sure you take a look at them thoroughly before deciding on what to use:
- The first one I ran across is called Booksource and it says it is 100% free at the moment (they do mention that if they decide to add additional features, there may be a charge for that upgrade down the road). You can add new titles, a class roster, run assessment reports on student and/or title activity, and allow the students to check in/check out books. Looks pretty cool, but of course, you will need to import all the titles and get it set up.
- Next up was LibraryThing, which I have heard of before (though again, I have not used it myself). This looks like it is geared more towards adults with home collections, but perhaps could still be used in the classroom as well. It is free for listing up to 200 books, and then there is a pretty nominal fee after that amount.
- The last one is from Beth Newingham (who does NOT love her?) and she has an awesome website page devoted to the library organization system with tons of tips and pictures! If you scroll almost to the bottom, she has a free excel spreadsheet (under the section header called “Classroom Library Catalog”) where you can enter your books, titles, genres, etc and even be able to sort them easily. Of course, you will have to enter the information in manually, but it could be done by older students (study hall or intervention periods) or even parent volunteers!
- If you are not super keen on setting up an electronic classroom library checkout system, then maybe something simpler would do? If you have a digital camera or smartphone handy, simply snap a picture of the child with the book he or she is taking home and then delete the image when it is returned. If you have a function where it allows you to add a date so you know how long it has been out, even better!
- Last idea is even simpler – how about a paper and pencil checkout sheet? Have the students fill out the form with the title and date the book left. You can glance it is periodically to see who still has a book out and make sure that when it is returned, you initial. Better yet – put a student in charge as a classroom job! For the week, they are in charge of sitting and checking books as the “classroom librarian.” If you need a form, feel free to grab this freebie from my Hollywood Theme Classroom Essentials Set below.