Have some school library funds to spend, and you either don’t want to buy books or you CAN’T buy books? School libraries are the go-to place for students to enhance their knowledge and acquire new skills. However, the funds allocated to school libraries are often limited or have a lot of strings attached to them. As a school library media specialist, it can be challenging to manage your school library budget and funds effectively. While books are an essential part of any library, there are other things that school librarians can invest in to make the library a more engaging and informative place for students. In this article, I will discuss some innovative ways in which school librarians can spend library funds on things that aren’t books.
Library Tech Tools
There are some awesome technology tools that can make your library space more fun, interactive and inviting.
A Bluetooth speaker like the one above that I have in my library can be a great tool! I use mine for playing music around the library. I’m one of those weird librarians that can’t really stand to have a silent library. I’m a little bit of a traditionalist. I like my own reading to be a performance, however, I know a lot of people who like Novel Effect. If you don’t know what Novel Effect is, it’s a really cool app that responds to you reading a book by adding sound effects and music! Obviously, a Bluetooth speaker would be an invaluable tool for using the Novel Effect app during an interactive read aloud. I ended up choosing the JBL Flip 5 because it’s really tough for the inevitable falls and times it’ll be thrown. It’s also water-proof for when someone spills something all over it.
Bluetooth Barcode Scanner
Being able to use my scanner without needing to be plugged in has been way more convenient than I ever thought when I first bought this one. I originally got this bluetooth barcode scanner to replace an old one that wasn’t scanning correctly. This new one scans books A LOT faster. The bluetooth feature, though, has made weeding books a lot faster. I also travel between schools, so I can travel with this scanner rather than rely on the scanners at each school. I can also do checkout wherever I bring my laptop. I’m not tied down to the circulation desk. Now, I can go to classrooms to do book talks or take a cart of books for a research project, and I can check books out to kids right there.
This is one that I started using during the pandemic when students needed to practice social distancing when my students were struggling to hear me. A voice amplifier was a GAME. CHANGER. for me. The model above is what I have. It’s comfortable, effective, and doesn’t break the bank. All things that I love. I still use it today. I no longer need to raise my voice!
Library Supplies and Tools
There are also a ton of really cool library supplies and tools that can make your school library easier to use and more beautiful!
DYMO Label Maker
Hello, easy to print spine labels! It can’t be just me that somehow STILL struggles sometimes to print on label sheets. This handy dandy DYMO label maker quickly and easily prints out book spine labels and just about any other kind of label you might want to print out: shelf labels, student ID labels for the lower grade, etc.
Now we’re getting into real librarian supplies! Have bindings break on some books? The Thermobind Machine uses heat and glue to repair the spines and bindings of damaged books. They don’t make a lot of books like they used to, so this machine is awesome for quickly fixing books! This is the binding machine we have, and it’s about half the price of the Cover One Binding Machines that are also popular.
A Cricut Machine like this Cricut Maker 3 is a really cool material cutting machine that allows you to create designs and cut them out. The machine can cut A LOT of materials, so you can make thing for the library like signs, stickers, and more! This could also be a cool addition to a Makerspace!
Button Maker Machine
A button maker machine is another really cool library tool that you can use to create buttons as incentives, to advertise certain activities or create badges for library helpers. These are just a few of the uses for a button maker, and this Happizza one is the one that several other elementary librarians have uses and loved!
Display Frame With Hinge
These. Are. AMAZING! I love displaying student work in the library, but doing so can be really difficult. You need to take down the old work, attach the new work. It used to end up that work would never get put up because I’d never have time! I now have a bunch of these hinged art frames attached to the walls around the library. Now, it’s easy to display student work because I can take out one piece of student work and just slip in a new piece. The frames can mount directly to the wall, and the hinge lets you open and close the frame easily! I also have a number of acrylic sign holders for on tops of bookshelves that I use as signage and to display student work.
Anti-Slip Tape for Bookshelves
I got this tip from another school librarian when I asked about ways to stop books from getting pushed back on the shevles. This non-slip tape was what I tried from the suggestions, and IT WORKS! I put this tape a couple of inches back from the front of the shelves and it provides enough friction to prevent books from getting pushed back and lost on deeper booksehlves.
Library Furniture and Library Environment Supplies
If you’re able to use your library budget to buy furniture, A) I’m jealous and B) There are a few fun ways to make your library more comfortable and fun.
These foldable pedal exercisers are big draws in the library. I’ve had to come up with a schedule for each class to use the pedal exercisers. They do a pretty good job of staying in place and kids love pedaling and reading. Once the novelty wears off, I can see some of my more hyperactive students using these to be able to focus on reading as they are also focusing on pedaling.
Bean Bag Chairs and Other Seating
Bean bag chairs are always a student favorite. These are ones that I especially like because, as gross as this sounds, I’ve yet to have an outbreak of lice with this bean bag chair like I have with others. There are other small plastic chairs and the like that are also favorites (and equally anti-lice). I also like Sit Spots for students to sit on during lessons.
Magnetic Poetry Tiles
Magnetic poetry tiles are a fun activity to put out. Book carts, cookie sheets, and magnetic paint on a wall all are ways to make this activity happen in your library. Another option might be to put out magnetic letter tiles for younger students to use. You may want to keep the activity close to the circulation desk so you can monitor what students are creating.
Games – Spot It
Games and puzzles are a fun way to engage students in the library. Spot It is an easy game that even the little ones can learn to play, and gets kids talking. ELLs can also really get into this game as well. Since there are no words actually on the card, it can be played in any language, so it’s really ideal for almost any kind of school you teach at. In addition to Spot It, chess and checkers are also fun, timeless games to have at the library for students to play.
STEM / STEAM and Makerspace Activities for the Library
Magna-tiles are a really cool way to let kids create and build. As they explore the tiles, they learn shapes and what can make a strong structure and what makes a weak structure. These engage the youngest learners all the way up to upper elementary students.
Snap Circuits are a kid-friendly way to let students explore how circuits work. The kits include project ideas to get students started exploring just what circuits can do. They can also explore and discover ways to make things work using the many different circuit pieces.
Really fun and engaging KEVA planks are a great way to get kids learning about building structures, balance, geometry, and physics. Younger students can practice stacking and small motor skills. Older students can create really complex strucutres of their own or try to recreate some of the structures in the included build book.
In conclusion, while books are an essential part of any school library, investing in other resources can help create a more engaging and informative space for students. By investing in tech tools, makerspaces, furniture, and equipment, school librarians can create a space that encourages creativity, innovation, and learning. When it comes to spending school library funds, it is essential to think outside the box and invest in resources that can help students develop the skills they need to succeed in their academic and professional lives.
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