One of the best parts of going back to school as a school librarian is the newness of everything — new students, new teachers, new books, new classes, and — of course — shiny new school supplies!
Here are some of the essential supplies for my back-to-school toolkit. I’m sure I’d be able to do my job without these tools, but I can tell you it would be a lot less efficient and maybe less fun! I work in a school library, so your mileage may vary on the uses for some of these tools, but most should be useful in all types of libraries. I hope you can find some ideas and inspiration to put to use whether you are headed back-to-school or not!
Smore — Faculty members compliment my design skills when they see my newsletters, but it truly takes minimal work to make something beautiful with communication tool Smore. This link is an example of one of my newsletters from last school year.
Recite.com — Intended as a site to make it easy to prepare decorative quotes, Recite.com is also perfect for when I need a quick, professional-looking sign for a display but don’t have more than five minutes to make it. There aren’t a ton of background choices so it’s not perfect in every situation, but it’s definitely the fastest design tool I use for making signage.
LiveBinders — One of the best parts of my job is working on research projects with teachers and students. To gather resources for those projects and share them with students in an easy-to-use format, I turn to LiveBinders. Though it lacks some of the features and design simplicity of a tool like LibGuides, LiveBinders is free to use — a must on my library budget. This resource guide on the Constitution and famous Supreme Court cases is a good example of the kinds of research guides you can make with LiveBinders. This could also be a great way to organize booklists or homework help sites to share with patrons or fellow librarians.
Label maker — I use this for labeling everything — binders, folders, storage bins, supplies, and more! Most importantly, though, the label maker is my go-to solution for creating spine labels for book processing. Though it costs a few cents more per label, to me, it’s much faster, easier to customize, and easier to train volunteers on than printing onto label sheets from our catalog.
Mini laminator — My workplace stocks a large format laminator, which has its place for poster and large sign laminating, but it’s usually busy and takes a really long time to heat up. That’s where my mini laminator comes in! For anything that’s a standard 8.5” by 11” page size or smaller this does the trick. It’s my standard tool for laminating small signs, and it also laminates index cards, so it’s great for making flashcards or matching games when I need them to last.
Chalkboard labels/ Chalkboard markers — For labels that I may change a lot or that I want to look more attractive, I use chalkboard labels. Not only for writing on the chalkboard labels, chalkboard markers also come in handy for displays. Since my library doesn’t have a bulletin board or a lot of formal display space, I use a chalkboard marker to create displays on our interior windows occasionally throughout the year.
Washi tape — This decorative tape makes me and my teens happy! I use it to cover my stapler, tape, scissors, hole punch, and other supplies in hopes that they are returned to the library when they are borrowed. It also makes great borders for signs and posters or decoration for library displays. 3M makes some festive designs perfect for the library, including mustache, speech bubble, and glasses. Decorative duct tape can also work for all these purposes!
Small paper cutter — Invaluable for trimming signs and making custom teen-designed bookmarks quickly, a small paper cutter isn’t great for the largest of jobs, but it is more precise than our industrial paper cutter.
What tools (high-tech or low-tech) can’t you live without in your library?