Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Have an iPhone? Teach Reading?

I, Comma Queen, love books. The Lit Lady loves books. Our classrooms are print rich environments. We have read lots of books about helping our students get down to the business of reading! (More on this to come later.)

I have been working for a few months to continue to add books to my class library. I have used some special PTA funds from a fundraiser to buy tons of books from our local book exchange. I have spent countless dollars of my own on new books for the classroom. In my mind, it is money very well spent!

Now that I have all these wonderful books to feed my students' minds, I have to be extra careful to keep track of them. I want to be sure they come back to me for future students to enjoy as well. I have a little notebook keeping track of books checked in and out. It's working...okay.

However, I love technology and have recently decided I wanted to keep up with my classroom library electronically. I wanted originally to order a scanner and software. Um, that's expensive, folks! I'd rather spend that moolah on books.

So I went to the App Store in iTunes. I played around with a few apps (thanks to the aiding patience and knowledge of my Dear Husband) for keeping an electronic book catalog on my iPhone. I found more than one, but I have a favorite and thought I'd share it with you.

I love iBookshelf! I recommend that if you want to try this, you download the Lite version - it's free. It lets you catalog up to 20 books. Let me walk you through the reasons I love this app.

First of all, I wanted to be able to scan barcodes to enter book data quickly. Why? I just think the scanning is cool.  :)

On the left, you'll see where I was able to choose my method of entry. Every now and then, a book I scan won't show up in the database. Then I have to add it manually. Don't worry - that's easy, too.

Here, you can see that you can scan more than one book at a time. This helps for large numbers of books to scan.

I also want to be able to search for books I've added easily. I can sort them and view them by title, author, and genre. There is also a great search box that allows me to look for a key word either in the title or author.

The picture on the left shows both the search box and the alphabetical listing.

But the main thing I wanted to do was allow for an electronic check out system. An important feature I was looking for was the ability to loan out books and keep track of who has borrowed them. This next feature is one of my favorites!

Let's say little Ashton has chosen a book, At the Edge: Daring Acts in Desperate Times by Larry Verstraete, and he wants to check it out. He brings the book up to me (or a student I have selected to operate iBookshelf for me). I look up the title using the quick search box or other method.

I just click on the title. I switch the status from "Owned" to "Lent Out" (see photo). I then type his name in the box that pops up. Ashton takes his book and is ready to go learn about these wonderful acts of bravery! So easy!

Later, let's say on a Friday, I want to check and see who has a book checked out from me. I can sort by status (look at the bottom bar on the picture at left). I can scroll down to the bottom and see all books that have been "Lent Out."

Here, you can see that At the Edge: Daring Acts in Desperate Times has been checked out. I can click it and see quickly who has the book.


Now, when they want to check books back in, just search for the title again, and change the status back to "Owned." DONE!

I love this app. I'm not saying this method is for everyone. However, I think it is super cool! I can't wait to start scanning (read: let the kids help me start scanning) books when we get back to school after spring break! If you have been tossing around an idea similar to this or if you have been wanting to break away from your spiral bound notebook checkout system, then I encourage you to try this out. Bonus? It's only $1.99!

Do you love your spiral bound notebook system? Do you have another system that works? Have you tried an electronic check out system in your room? Let me know!

Comma Queen


  1. Are you able to add fields other than title, author, etc. I'd like to have them cataloged by guided reading level as well.


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