“What Worked” Wednesday: Keeping Books Visible on Library Shelves

What Worked Wednesdays | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in TechI’m starting a new series based on several of the “ideas that worked” that I’ve previously blogged about, such as Cheap and Easy Library Decorations, our Library Treasure Store program for K-2 students, and the Whole Number Dewey modified library classification for elementary students.  Each post will include an idea that worked in my school library and how it makes my life less stressful, more organized, and/or more manageable.

Today’s idea that worked is:

Use shallow cardboard boxes to keep books
forward on library shelves.

How this idea lowers my stress level:

Books pushed back into the shadows of a shelf are one of my librarian pet peeves.  Elementary students probably think they’re being helpful when they do this, and I have no desire to spend valuable instruction time teaching them to leave the books where they are. 

"What Worked" Wednesday: How to Keep Books Visible on Library Shelves | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in TechTo keep my sanity, I collect small, shallow boxes and put them behind chapter books so they can’t be pushed back.  So far, I have about 25 shelves completed, and to my eyes it does make the books more visible.  It’s especially helpful for “first chapter books” aka easy readers, fiction novels, and our easy nonfiction books.

I plan to add more boxes as I find or get them until I complete the rest of the first chapter books section and the fiction section.  I haven’t compared circulation stats yet, but I’m wondering if they will increase or not with more light shining on the book spines.

Try it out, and see if you like the brighter look of your library shelves!

 If you want more library management tips like this one, as well as elementary and secondary library curriculum and makerspace resources, follow me on Pinterest!


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Mrs. J in the Library

Collette J., or Mrs. J in the Library, is a full-time elementary teacher-librarian, blogger, and mama from Pennsylvania. She loves technology, books in any format, makerspaces, and all things Harry Potter. The information and opinions represented here are her own and are not the views and opinions of any business or organization.

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22 Responses

  1. Erin in PA says:

    Awesome idea!! This is my first year in this current library and I have these lovely deep shelves that have been hiding books all year. I never thought about using all those mini-book boxes from the book order or from Amazon. Thank you for sharing!

    • Mrs. J in the Library says:

      Thanks! I’m always on the hunt for the shallow ones, too. I hate that Amazon adds tape with their branding on it to every box, but I black it out with permanent marker to keep it from showing.

  2. Empty Kleenex boxes. Living in an allergy-ridden area … we have plenty of those. 🙂
    PS Thank you for your comment. I appreciated it!

    • Mrs. J in the Library says:

      Oh, I never thought of Kleenex boxes being about the right height. Good tip! Thanks, Ms. O!

  3. CCL says:

    Awesome, I did this last year in the school library with cardboard too, created a pyramid shape. At the public library where I work they use old DVD cases covered in floral paper.

  4. POOL NOODLES!! Just cut to fit the length of the shelf and slide behind the books. But, before I discovered pool noodles, I purchased a large quantity of boxes to use both behind the books as you suggested, and to turn on end and cover with signage for our Nonfiction shelves. They came flat and we just fold them up as we need them. I just googled boxes and found a company. I believe I spent 60.00 for 100 boxes and it was well worth it!

  5. Aysha says:

    Great ideas! Loving the pool noodles, will give it a try!

  6. Patty Davis says:

    I use Capri Sun boxes and wrap them in brown butcher paper to keep my books forward on the shelves.

  7. Becky says:

    Love all these ideas…it’s just with so many shelves, that’s a lot of boxes…I may try the noodles if I can still find any!

  8. Kim Guyette says:

    I use spring loaded curtain rods. They are adjustable for shelf width. I buy them cheaply at yard sales, thrift stores.

  9. Cinda says:

    I’ve found the empty Kleenex boxes work well. I just have teachers bring me their empty boxes.

  10. Sue says:

    The books pushed to the back is also my #1 pet peeve! I have tried explaining it to students during orientation that smaller books get hidden. Like you to no avail. I saw your post in the summer and my mom started saving greeting card boxes for me. She sends birthday cards for church members, so she goes through them quickly. Hoping it helps. Thanks for post. I enjoy your blog.

    • Angie says:

      These are fantastic ideas! I’ve never thought to do this before… I end up just leaving them all pushed back 😉

  11. Mary says:

    I cut 2″x4″s to the shelf width. It looks nice when many of the books on the shelf are checked out, too.

  12. Nancy says:

    When there was a construction project in the area, I collected the foam strips that were being thrown away. They were about the size of a 2 x 4 and I could easily cut them to length.

  13. Pam H says:

    I used the boxes from laminate rolls. also, freezer paper boxes and cardboard tubes. I had most of my shelves finished, but now I am starting over in a new library!

  14. Kerri P says:

    Love this idea! I have a new space and new shelving this year and I also have this problem. The kids LOVE to push all of the books back! I will definitely try to do this.

  15. Cathy Oxley says:

    I am using pool noodles in the same way in our library. Great idea to use boxes!