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Thank you for your responses regarding my messy messy 5th and 6th graders.
Following are the ideas I received:

I don't know if this will work for 5th graders but it sure did for 1st and
second grade.
At the beginning of the school year I went over the rules and we "toured"
the non fiction section, the most abused area. After asking if they had any
questions, I said now everyone will help keep our books in the correct order
and neat right? they all agreed. Well the first grade made a first class
mess. I didnt say anything, but took pictures of the "destroyed" areas. Next
time they came to the library, they viewed the pictures and I reminded them
that they agreed to keep our library neat and orderly yet they didn't. So I
then told them they could only get books from a selected area so I could
watch and see who was caring for the library. The next week they were
allowed to revisit the non fiction area and if the problem occurrs again
I'll repeat the process. They didnt like being restricted. ANd I realize
that some were who were totally innocent were penalized. but anyway it has
helped GREATLY!
I make the upper elementary students use shelf markers - it is a dual
purpose shelf marker as it hs their library barcode at one end.  They need
to have it to check out.
Maybe you can set up stations with different shelf organization tactics.
One station could be organizing fiction books in general alpha order, one
could be organizing fiction books when they all have the same author last
name.  You could do similar stations for biography.  Have as many stations
as you need.  The students could work in cooperative groups, and be given a
short period of time at each station.
 I don't have older kids, just first thru third. But I like to remind
them that if they took everything in their bedroom, and threw it all on
the floor, it would be hard to find anything. It's the same way with the
library - how can they find what they want when the previous class has
messed everything up?
Why not have the first graders teach the lesson?
 I did the opposite with my 4-6th graders, and rewarded them for good
behavior.  I had 5 different areas that the class was rated on. . .*behavior
(keeping it quiet), *respect (for the teacher as well as each other),
*keeping the shelves neat, *staying on task (reading quietly), and for the
life of me, I cannot remember the other 1.  I had a poster with them listed,
went over my expectations for them, and each day there were awarded up to 5
points per item.  Once a class reached 150 points, they earned a 'fun
library day' where they could play games, listen to music, read, and as long
as they kept it some what sane, pretty much enjoy their time in library
anyway they wanted.  Most classes did not earn 25 points each week, so it
took at least 7 weeks to earn a fun library, and sometimes 8 or 9.  It takes
some extra book keeping, but the classes realized it was well worth the
behavior.  If someone misbehaved, their classmate would quietly remind
them.  Peer pressure can be a positive thing!  It worked very well for me
for at least 5 years before I left that job.
 Each student has to use a book bone in my library..go
first three weeks of school with rules for it..and
thank goodness it does help...basically a shelf marker
that I have re named...I catch kids..without and I
tell them that they have to sit it out and I'll choose
their books...never really did that but the book bones
help a great deal..since Im' by myself most of the
day..Susan T.
It's bee a while since I did Elem (trust me - HS kids are much much worse
and I have leverage to ge them to behave) but here's what I used to do.

Assign each kid their own shelf to care for -- once it's theirs, the get
really annoyed with the others if they mess it up!!  Award prizes for the
best cared for shelf each week and build in a 5-10 minutes time for shelf
care.  Have dusters available too.  SOmetimes I'd hide treats behind books
to make it a game to get them to tidy up -- or just tell them there's
something hidden behind someone's shelf and then say -- oh -- it miust have
been in some other's class' section.

I've very devious!
The trick will be to get them to think "we are *sixth* graders and
should be proud of it," instead if "she thinks we're a bunch of first

You made me grin, though, because that "we are *not* elementary school
students, are we??" approach was *extremely* effective on me!

Have them teach the skills to the younger kids.
 Do you use shelf markers? I use the wooden stir sticks from the paint store
as shelf markers, and my students do fairly well with them. Once I make it
clear that they are NOT swords or weapons of any kind, they usually do well
with them.

However, I have seen another solution at my public library. There are empty
shelves (usually too narrow for books to be placed upright) that are marked
for use by patrons after they pull a book and do not know where to replace
it. Although we need to train students in correct book placement, having an
alternate solution to shelving might cut down on the misplacement of books.

I have also considered appointing a few assistants per class to check the
shelves before the class leaves the library. Since I limit their book
checkouts to 2 per student, I would probably allow the assistants to have
more books checked out. I thin I would have a few students who would be
motivated by this offer. Do you have something you can offer them that would
motivate your students? Perhaps a favorite book or series that is always
checked out----you could allow them the first choice of new
I am in a brand new library and technology just got around to installing my
OPAC last week, so nonf-fiction has been off limits because I couldn't
introduce the catalog.  The kids have been chomping at the bit to get to the
non-fiction section (especially the boys) but I told them NO ONE goes into
non-fiction until I can see proper use of shelf markers to reshelve books in
fiction.  After all, dealing with 3 letters is a whole lot easier than
dealing with 3 letters plus a string of Dewey numbers!  Wednesday when I
read the shelves, less than a dozen books were out of place and only a
handful of books were in the shelves backwards.  They get to go onto
non-fiction after the break, but I will warn them if they don't take care of
the library, they will go back to only fiction.  That would kill them.  I
have also been stressing since day 1 that the books in our brand new library
cost over $100,000 and they have to last until at least their youngest
grandchild uses them.  They get to check out their own books.  I have made
sure they know this is OUR library and they need to take ownership.  They
are proud and excited to be trusted and it shows in their use of the

I know just how you feel, I am really strict with this.  I tell my students
if they have pulled a book off the shelf and they do not want it, they
should put it on the cart.  I also tell them that if they cannot follow this
rule, then they do not use the library. I do it in a positive way and tell
them I NEED their help in keeping the library neat. (I do not have a clerk,
all shelving and everything else is done by ME).  They heed the message I
think.  Every once in a while I have to tell someone to sit down.  I am the
library dragon sometimes.  But I always point out to them how great it is
when they ask for a special book that we always know where it is.  Hope this

Danna DeMars, LMS
Garrett Elem
Hazelwood, MO

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