Suggestions on setting up a library

It’s helpful to make out a plan with staged dates for completing the work, be realistic, don’t underestimate the amount of time it takes to get your library up and running, allow 2 to 3 months. An empty, clean, freshly painted room with new shelves is an ideal starting point but work around what you’ve got, old shelves can look new with a coat of paint. You can contact your local library or school librarian for advice on layout. Decide what books you, the teachers and children would like to have. Books need to be stamped, covered and catalogued, so enlist as much help as you can.

  1. Layout of library

A suggested layout is

Section 1.  Picture Books  Age 4 to  6  Fiction – Picture books  – taller so need more height space.

Section 2.   Early readers Fiction Age 6 to 8   Fiction – Easy and early Readers, usually in series sets.

Section 3.   Fiction Age 8 to 13  Fiction –can be colour coded or graded

Section 4.   Non- fiction is separate to fiction. Can be categorised ie; sport, nature. Ask your local librarian about the Dewey system of categorising.

You can also have a section for Teacher Resources, Special needs, audio etc.

Fiction books are filed under author/alphabetical,  non-fiction by subject ie: science, nature, animals

We feel Irish language books should be in with English books so that children will come across them, if they are in a separate section children are less likely to choose them

  1. Shelving

You may have existing shelving, a coat of paint or varnish will give it a fresh look. You may have a local handyman or carpenter willing to put up timber shelves.

If buying new shelves check about delivery times, you may be surprised at how long this takes.

  1. Stamping, Barcoding and Colour Coding

Stamping. Books need to be stamped with the school stamp. County Libraries stamp the title page (this is the page with the publisher information, stamp front or back), page 21 (picture books often don’t have numbered pages so anywhere will do, try not to stamp the illustrations), and a random page.

Barcoding. If you are using a computer system that requires a barcode decide where on the book it should go. It’s a good idea to put the barcode on the back cover,  top right hand corner, as opposed to inside the cover, saves time not having to open book.  Be consistent on all books.

Colour coding.  Colour coding books by age, as a guide for teachers,  you can buy coloured labels, 4 colours are adequate. You can use the label to put the initial of the author in marker ie;  Holes by Louis Sacher, label colour Red, letter S. Again be consistent, put the label at the bottom of the spine so that visually they all look the same.

Green  – Junior/Senior infants

Yellow – First & Second

Blue – Third & Fourth

Red – Fifth & Sixth

You could put an additional small label on the top of the spine to further code a book ie: non-fiction, high interest/low vocubalary, Irish language.

  1. Book Covering

Pvc covers fit most books but some picture books will need to be laminated. Using contact is slow and it’s not hard wearing enough. Ryco do a laminate called Polywrap, if you make a mistake you can peel it off and start again.  Ensure that the person doing the laminating work is doing it correctly. Books are expensive and laminate put on incorrectly or shoddily can ruin a book. Contact Tara Book Co for covers

  1. Cataloguing / Computer systems

Check all systems to see if they have ongoing or annual charges.

Check to see how books are loaded on system, having to key in data is very time consuming.

  1. Involving children involve the children in small ways, covering some books, stamping, etc. It’s their library too and it helps them to take ownership and be part of it.
  2. Name the Library. Run a competition for a name for the library, design a logo
  3. Opening of Library Invite an author through Poetry Ireland scheme, have a cutting the ribbon ceremony.
  4. Memberships Join CBI and the School Librarian
  5. Marketing your library Promote the library by having an author visit, reading tree, author display

Useful information

Bean bags with story time help make the library an inviting and fun place to be.

Books like Wimpy Kid, Tom Gates, Captain Underpants and Barry Loser are very popular. Try to have a look at the less popular books and maybe read a chapter for the kids, encouraging them to be adventurous and try something new. A circular table in the room with random books is a good idea, children automatically think these books are special and make a bee line for them, a good way to showcase books that are not being taken out.

Do an author display ie: Marita Conlon McKenna, O’Brien Press would be happy to provide a poster or photo, display her books, put up on Twitter/Facebook, parents newsletter. Maybe get 6th class to do this once a month and let them choose the author, maybe every second one should be an Irish author.