Library Centers

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I started regularly using centers in my library a few months ago after reading Cari Young’s website (now blog).  I had used centers a few times during Thursday afternoons when the specialist teachers cover common planning time for classroom teachers.  It hadn’t occurred to me to use them all the time but Cari showed it can be done!

Why Centers? 
My library classes are on a fixed schedule where I see 2nd-4th grade classes once per week for 30 minutes and 5th grade every other week for 45 minutes.  Classes are structured so I teach a lesson for about 15 minutes and students select and checkout books for the remaining 15 minutes.  I was running into issues getting students to use check out time productively if they weren’t getting books.  Students who were not checking out books were often wandering around and I felt like I was losing valuable library instruction time.  

With centers, I teach my lesson and then kids who are checking out books go search for their books and kids who are not go straight to a library center.  Now, everyone is engaged in a library activity for the entire library class.  I am able to work with students to find just right books without worrying about any funny-business going on in the background.  It’s also wonderful to be able to interact with kids at centers – I especially love working on the puzzle with them!  


The best thing about using centers is how much the kids love them.  They are working on library skills for the whole library period and having fun doing so.  It makes my day to hear a collective groan when I turn off the lights to signal library is over.  The kids don’t want to stop working at the centers and line up to leave!

6 Responses to “Library Centers”

  1. Andrea

    Mrs. Lodges, How often to your centers change? Are centers grade level specific? I had this idea at the beginning of the school year, but quickly became overwhelmed. I think I’d like to give it a try for real this time : )

    • Mrs. Lodge

      Hi Andrea,
      The centers I use work for all my 2nd-5th graders. I’ll have Ks and 1s next year and will definitely post about how it goes with them! Certain things would likely be too difficult but others, like a puzzle, ABC Books, etc. I think would work for all grades.

      I keep some centers all the time – puzzle, library blurbs, question of the week – and rotate in three or four others. You could certainly do only 4 or 5 at a time. One of my colleagues was thinking of having maybe 5 or 6 centers and having the kids rotate through them one per week. They would do one center per week so you would only have to change them out every 5 or 6 weeks.

      If you get overwhelmed, start small! Put out a puzzle, a specific selection of books to read with buddies, and bookmarks to decorate to start since none of those centers need any prep and see how the kids respond. Then add something new a few weeks later. Take your time, it’s worth making it work!

      Definitely check out Cary’s Library Centers blog for a ton of low prep ideas!

  2. Anonymous

    I am interested in implementing centers with a group of students checking out, a group keyboarding on computers and a group with me doing my library lesson. Have you tried anything like this?

    • Mrs. Lodge

      I have not tried this. A colleague of mine was thinking of trying it but hasn’t yet. I don’t feel like I have enough time in 30 minutes because I would want to keep check out separate so I would be available to help with book selection, which would leave me with a 5-7 minute lesson time instead of 15. If you try it, please let me know how it works!

  3. Jennifer

    Mrs. Lodge,

    Thank you for this wealth of resources! I have a few management questions…
    Do you assign the kids to specific centers or allow them to choose each week? Do you keep a list of the various center choices in a central location so the kids can see what their options are?

    Thanks,
    Jennifer

  4. Mrs. Crook

    Love, love, love your philosophy on centers! Mrs. Crook

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