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Thursday, August 20, 2015

How I Organize My Books

As a new teacher, I had a lovely collection of children's books - a couple of hundred, which I had collected during my college years.  They filled almost 2 whole shelves!  When I needed one, I could usually spot it pretty quickly, because I knew what they all looked like - and because there were only 2 shelves to look through.

Later, as my collection of teacher stuff (it's a technical term!) grew, I needed to find better ways to organize it.  I tried a filing cabinet, but had too many papers for each file.  Binders were an improvement - but what to do with all the other 'bits' like manipulatives and toys and... stuff?  I moved on to plastic totes, which were marvelous as they could hold the binders of papers, the books AND stuff.  I became a regular at Target, collecting an impressive collection of plastic totes to store my ever expanding teacher stuff.

I had a tote for each season, and for all the themes I taught: apples, circus, fall, farms... not to mention major (and minor) holidays.  I was really fortunate to have a lot of storage in my house... a lot of which was filled with shelves of totes.  If   When I found new things I needed for teaching, I could slip them immediately into the correct tote, knowing that when it came time to teach that theme, it would be there waiting for me.  (Notice I said 'could', not 'always did'.)


It began with The Hat, a popular book by Jan Brett.  I needed it for a lesson.  So I looked in my winter tote.  Not there.  Okay, maybe the farm tote, there are a lot of farm animals in the story.  Nope.  Clothing?  No.  I looked and looked, knowing full well that I had the book... somewhere.

After many totes and several muttered naughty words, I went to my husband.  I told him something that was really hard for me to say, or even to think.  I said, "I have too many books.  I can't find them."

It's a testament to the kind of husband he is, that he did not jump and cheer and tell me he was glad I had finally figured it out and could he please have a little of the closet space those books and stuff were taking up?  I am so very grateful that he told me that I didn't have too many books, I just needed a better organization system, library software.  Then he researched what was available, how much it cost, and downloaded it for me!  (No teachers, you can't have him, I'm keeping him!)

The solution was ReaderWare.  I'm still using it and loving it ten years down the road!  For a whopping $39.95, it does everything I can think of except put the books on the shelf.

I type in the ISBN# from the back of the book, and Readerware searches the internet for all the information I could possibly want, and organizes it.  Within a few seconds of entering a book, Readerware pulls a picture of the cover, title, author, publishing date, book reviews...
Everything is editable, so you can add, delete, or change information to suit your needs.  Sometimes I find incomplete data, a second author not listed for example - but I can add it in if I want.  I love the keywords section.  This is where I put in every possible theme that I might use a book with.  The Hat has keywords: winter, farm, clothing, animals.  I add these because everything is searchable.

I can search by 27 features: author, title, category, and KEYWORDS.  So now, when I want a book on lets say, apples, I search by keyword and get...
... a list of every book I own that is tagged apples! 

The most difficult part of organizing my books was not adding them into Readerware, it was putting them up on  my shelves.  I decided to alphabetize by author, which makes finding them super easy - especially with my list from Readerware.  I can print it out if I need, or more often pull it up on the computer then walk over to my shelves and grab what I need.  No more searching for a book, no more trying to remember who the author is, or even which books I have for each theme.  Many times since I got this, teacher friends have come to me and asked if I have anything they could use for a lesson on xyz - and I can find it in less than a minute!  Did I mention that Readerware also lets you track books you've loaned out?  Yes, no more forgetting to get your books back, or who borrowed which one.

There are so many great things about Readerware, I can't begin to tell you everything I love about it.  If you have ever had to search for a book, and think this might be a solution for you, they offer a 30 day free trial, but purchase, as of the time I'm writing, is still only $39.95.  Need to know more?  http://www.readerware.com/index.php/products/details/books_details

Happy reading to you!



  1. Does it also provide information on leveling books.

    1. No, I don't think it does that. If you're looking to be able to search for that in your collection, you could include the information in your entries and be able to find books by level, but you would have to find the levels another way I believe.


  2. wonderful! I've been searching for this my whole teaching years. Thank you.