Easy Peasy Classroom Library Checkout System

How about a super easy library checkout system for your classroom bookshelves? So simple, it will blow your mind you didn’t think of it before!

It’s probably easier than trying to label tons of books, have barcodes, have a checkout system, have a form to fill out to check. Really, I prefer the KISS method. Keep It Simple Silly, right?

How about a super easy library checkout system for your classroom bookshelves? So simple, it will blow your mind you didn't think of it before!

Have you tried just about every elementary classroom library check out system out there already?  

Only to find that students are not filling in the traditional sign up form correctly (or at all), you have old school library cards and book pockets that are messy or ripped, students not even knowing what book they have – or where it is, children losing your books, and then you having to spend more of your own money to build back up the classroom bookcase to create a suitable DIY library.

Space-Saving Creative Idea

If it’s simple, it’s going to be easy for your students to understand, it’s going to be easy for you to remember, and it’s just going to work, and it’s going to be easy for your parents to follow up with as well.

For my books, I have as you can see, a ton of books in my personal library as well. If you are looking for more books, Scholastic book order points are wonderful for building your library on the cheap. Or ask parents for donations for holidays or for any type of gift.

Garage sales, yard sales, flea markets, libraries that are getting rid of old books are also a perfect place to grab really inexpensive books, many of which are still in great condition.

You might want to check out:

A few classroom library checkout system ideas for your classroom library organization setup.

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  • How to Best Display Your Student Books
  • Super Easy Checkout System
  • Teaching Students to Reshelve Their Selections
  • Book Gift Idea
  • Learning How to Create Book Labels
  • A Quick Book Log to Encourage Reading at Home
  • Classroom DIY Project for a No-Sew Book Bag

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You can label your books however that you want in your plastic crates. I have done both the Accelerated Reader leveling system and I’ve also done the Fountas and Pinnell leveling.

I like to have all of my books in baskets that are facing forward rather than on a bookshelf where they can’t really see anything about the cover at all and decide whether they want to and in the book baskets by their level.

That way student’s aren’t reading things that are too hard, yet they’re not reading things that are too easy and there are lots of choices.

It’s not, “You have to read this book.” Right?

Instead, “You can pick from all of these books in a level that’s appropriate for you.” However even if you don’t have them leveled just have them on display it’s fine. It’s not going to have anything to do with the checkout system we’re about to share.

Finding just the right organization system that works best for you and your students is trial and error sometimes for sure.

Mobile-Ready Classroom Library Technology

Materials needed:

  • a student
  • their book that they would like to check out
  • a basic phone or a cheap digital camera

It could be a super, super cheap digital camera that’s $9.99 at your local big box store even.  No need for high quality images here friends.

This is so simple.


The student stands with the book facing forward and you snap a picture of it.

They could even do a selfie if they wanted.  It doesn’t matter, that could even be more fun.

You could also have a parent snap checkout picts or if you have older students they could take pictures of one another other with their check out book.  Even Kindergarten students can easily check out books without your help with this method!

Basically, if they take a picture with a book, you know they have checked that book out of your classroom library.  The child then takes his or her book to the cubbies and takes it home.

I even have a photo below to show you exactly what it would look like.

How about a super easy library checkout system for your classroom bookshelves? So simple, it will blow your mind you didn't think of it before!

He checked out that book, I know that he has it and when he returns it I simply delete the photo off the camera roll?

Easy!  Shortest time ever spent waiting in line to check out.

Then he takes a picture of the next one.

Maybe once a week I go through my photos and say, “Hey Alex, do you still have, “Slowly, Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth?” “Yes? Okay I’m going to leave that photo in there, make sure that it comes back next week, we need to switch it out for a new book, so you need to finish that one up.”

When he returns it, delete the photo, take the picture of the next one that there is.

That’s all there is to it!  Makes it super simple.

One other really fun thing that you can do if you use this type of system is maybe once a week or every so often go through your phone and download all the library checkout photos to your computer, and save them to organized digital files for each student.

Then at the end of the year, create a quick composite of all the photos of that one particular student and all the books they have read throughout the year.  {Or you could assign an older student or parent volunteers to do this quick task instead.}

Then, students can actually see the real images of, “Oh my goodness did I really check out and read 50 books this school year? I did, because I can see all of the titles.” You’ll be able to see their progression as they aged throughout the school year as well, which is a lot of fun.

You could even, possibly, if you use this type of leveling, or even the color leveling, you would be able to see how their reading levels progressed throughout the year.

Definitely a neat keepsake for students and parents for an end of the year gift!

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Do you have another classroom library checkout system you prefer in your classroom? There is definitely no one-size-fits-all approach. Having many options is a wonderful thing! Feel free to leave a comment below and share your best tips!

Happy reading!


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