Library Card Shelf Markers

Hi friends!

Meet my super-elastic, fantastic library card/shelf markers/punch cards!

As you know, I used to make shelf markers out of paint stirrers.  Several librarians commented that they put student barcodes on their shelf markers, and I really liked that idea. But the vision of painting 900 paint stirrers did NOT appeal to me!

So, I made combination library card/shelf markers on card stock. Then I had the idea to make them into punch cards. We’ll punch a circle around the outside edge each time a student checks out or rechecks his books (because his account is current–no bills or overdues). After five circles, there’s a star for the sixth punch, and the student will get to choose a-fun-but-not-too-distracting-school supply from the treasure box.

For our first graders, I have a different design: 3 circles before a number 2 on the edge, because I do 3 lessons with our fabulous firsties before I let them check out 2 books. I teach them book care, shelf markers, and choosing a just right book before they start taking 2 books home.

On one side of the library card/shelf marker/punch card,  the students will write their first name (or the name they want to be called), and I’ll stick the barcode on there. On the other side, I have one of our Leader in Me sayings (“think win-win”) with the circles and stars, waiting to be punched.

I bought ocean stickers for students to add to their shelf marker/library card/punch card to personalize it even more. After we have names and bar codes and stickers on, we’ll laminate them so they’ll last all year.

And because I know my little angels and their wily ways, I bought heart-shaped punches for us to use at the circulation desk, instead of standard hole punches. Just in case they have an idea to try to punch their own card.

You can find my pre-K through 5th grade library card printables in a bundle on TPT!

Library Card Printable Bundle

I think this will help me to:
-reward the students who return or renew their books responsibly, and
-see at a glance which students haven’t checked out for a while due to late or lost books!

I’ll keep you posted on how this system works.

And, THANK YOU for helping this blog to reach half a million page views! That’s a whole lot of collaboration going on!

****2017 UPDATE: These library cards work like magic, and now I can’t imagine running my library without them. I print them on cardstock, no need to laminate them!*******

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    1. Interesting idea! I love it. I’m interested to know how they hold up over the course of the year. I can see my kids folding, rolling, and bending them to oblivion before we hit fall break. Keep us posted!

      1. Amanda, I have that vision in my mind, too. I’m hoping that they will understand that I can’t give them a prize if the punch card is destroyed. We’ll see!
        Thanks for the comment!

    2. Please keep us posted on how this works. I’m all for any ideas to get the kiddos to return their books each week! Thanks for all your awesome ideas!

      1. Kebbie,
        I will definitely keep you posted. This week I’ll be getting the kids to write their names and add stickers. Step by step!
        Thanks for your encouraging words!

    3. Cari, this is a great idea. I have the plastic shelf markers from Demco, but am now considering this. Did you use card stock? I’m trying to think of what would be sturdy enough to last. Thanks for sharing this!

      1. Shawna, I did print them on cardstock. After the students write their name, add a sticker, and I’ll add a barcode, then we’ll laminate them to try and make them last all year.
        We’ll see how it goes!
        Thanks for the comment!

    4. I printed these out yesterday and started letting the kids decorate them this morning. Thanks for the great idea. It was a perfect day to introduce it because I had a class with a lot of missing books this week. Hopefully this incentive will get them back next week.

    5. I wanted to share my methord for returning library books, I have a drawing each month for students who return their library books. Each week, if the student has returned or renewed their library books, I give them a ticket to fill out. At the end of the month I draw winners from each grade level. I check their record to make sure they still do not have any overdue books and hand out a prize. My prize each month is a poster and a full sized Hershey bar. The students love it! I have been doing it for 2 years now. It’s not expensive. The posters come from scholastic book fairs.

      1. I was just going to do this to get the rest of the books in for the end of the year. I love the idea to do it monthly. I have 7-8 graders and they love drawings.

    6. I do something very close to this. We put names on students shelf markers, they decorate them – so they are easy to spot in a pile, and then we add their barcode. I use cardstock and after lamination, they do last all year. I will have one or two students who bend them to bits, I tell them I’m not sure how they will get books out if they completely destroy them and it works well. This year I am adding the punch system to kindergarteners shelf marks, we have always done this on a separate library card for them, but they lose them very often. Not sure if the shelf markers will hold up as well after being punched, but we’ll see. How did your year go w/the punch system?

      1. Deb,
        The punch system GREATLY reduced the amount of overdue books we had last year. Students were excited to get their punches and choose something from the treasure box. It seems so simple, but it helped make the library a happier place for us!

    7. I’m curious how your cards held up. I really appreciate your site, as I am beginning a new position in the library in two weeks and have absolutely nothing to begin with. I do have one question regarding the cards – you keep these in the library at all times, correct? Do you lay them out before class begins, or do you have students distribute them?

      Thanks so much!!

      1. Lizzie,
        Here’s our system.
        We have all classes who have checkout on that day return their books on an overhead cart right after morning announcements.
        They put the re-checks on a separate shelf of the cart.
        While the students are standing there with the cart, we quickly renew the “re-checks” and send those back to class.
        Then we check in all the books for class visits that day.
        Before a class arrives, we scan all of the cards for that class, print overdue notices for books not returned, and set out library cards on the counter for the students who can check out.
        When a class arrives, each student knows right away whether he or she is able to check out.
        This system works really well for us. Thanks for your question!

        1. Is this when you hole punch the shelf marker too? I’m using the shelf marker library card for the first time this year. The kids are/were excited about it, but I’m struggling to keep up. We just finished our 1st 9 weeks grading period, and I haven’t given out prizes yet. I don’t want to reward students if they don’t check out books. (In other words, if they go 2 months without ever choosing books, I don’t want to give them a prize even though their account is clear.) Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

    8. Cute idea. I do something similar. We ask Kindergarten teachers to send up a class list of labels, then we add the user barcode. Then each year we add the child’s picture to the shelf marker, so that by the end of elementary school they will have all their pictures and take it with them when they leave us.
      We also mark students who have permission to check out equipment with a tiny sticker by their name (Needs signed permission slip) and I use them in class and mark on the back which students have participated in class plays (i.e. we do The Hat and Mitten in 1st), I also mark stars on the back of each for rotational privileges – like lap pads or pillows. We use heavy construction paper and change the color for each new class. I have a small bin on my desk with the shelf markers for the days classes. It is also nice since it helps me learn new student’s names, every student has to turn it in each day, so if they have overdue books, we get a chance to ask about it. We love this tool!

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