When I first started in the library, I didn’t give much thought to the shelf labels. I did put some signage up, but I really didn’t understand how important shelf labels really were! Think about it… how many times each day do you hear, “Where are the scary chapter books? Where are the volcano books? Where are the Fly Guy books?” If your library is anything like mine, I bet you answer “where are…” questions over 100 times every day! (or at least it feels like that!) 😂
Over the years, I’ve added more signage as needed. (You can read more about my genre library signage here.) But this summer, I really set out to find a way to help create more independent library users, from Kinder through 5th grade (and yes, even for my teachers!)
One of the first things I did was redo the shelf labels I had in my Non-Fiction section. I had previously put numbers where each “hundred” section started but it quickly became clear that there needed to be “more”. So I created new signs (4.5 inches long by 2.25 inches high) with not only the 100’s but also the numbers that started each new bookcase. (I tried to include numbers that I thought would be asked for most often, but if there is a specific number you need, just let me know and I can add that in as an update.)
I decided to go one step further and add additional pictures to help my younger students find books on topics they were interested in. I previously had a few in the animal area, but now each bookshelf has at least 1-2 pictures representing the books on each shelf. Once again, I tried to include as many different pictures that I thought you might need (thank goodness I have a large clipart stash! 😂) I put the Dewey Decimal number underneath the picture to give you an idea of where these pictures would go. You can either leave the number on or cut it off.
Here’s what they look like together on the shelves.
Since I was redoing the Non-Fiction section, I went ahead and redid all my other sections as well. I created Biography shelf labels in purple. There’s the entire alphabet in single letters, but I also combined several letters in case you had a smaller collection that could be combined. I also included a blank editable format so that you could make your own.
Since some people use the term “Easy” and others use the term “Everybody“, I decided to create shelf labels for both in blue. Each set includes the individual letters as well as some combinations. I also included a blank editable version for each.
For the Fiction chapter book section, I created several different versions, depending upon how you have your section organized. There’s individual alphabet letters in case you have your section organized by author’s last name. I also included genre names with and without images in case you have “genrified” your fiction section.
What’s neat is if you use all of these labels, you can easily “see” each section and direct kids faster. For instance, if they are looking for Fly Guy books, then you could say, “Go look on the BLUE “A” shelf.” If they are looking for volcano books, you could say “Go look on the GREEN 536 shelf or the shelf with the picture of a volcano on it.” If you are interested in redoing and/or updating your library signage as well, you can find everything you see here at my TpT store.
I hope these signs help you organize your library, and help your students (and faculty) become more independent users! As always, I’d love to hear how you organize your library! Don’t forget to share your ideas!