Library Entry, Exit, and Checkout Procedures (PK-Grade 1)

Think about your school’s morning drop-off procedures. Chances are good that by this point in the school year, morning drop-off is a well-oiled machine. Even parents who do not often drop-off their children can be folded into drop-off traffic without too much disruption. Whether you are elementary, middle, or high school, the morning drop-off procedures have been consistently taught, practiced, and reinforced every single day.

Now think about your library entry and exit procedures. Are they also well-oiled? Entry and exit were one thing that I excelled at as an elementary librarian, but not so much as a middle and high school librarian.


Entry Procedures for Grades PK-1

By the end of my fifth year in elementary, I had my PK-Grade 1 procedures down-pat. Here’s what I did for my Grade PK-1 students, whether I was on the specials rotation or not:

  • Meet students in the hall outside the library.
  • Remind the students to enter the library quietly. As they came into the library, students walked quietly to the story carpet. I had ordered baskets (like these) for teachers to collect library books in before they came to the library. The teacher put the basket near the circulation desk. If this was a specials rotation, the teacher left. If this was not a specials rotation, the teacher needed to check in the books and put them TOGETHER on the shelving cart. This helped if a book accidentally didn’t scan–all the books were together, so it was easier to find it.
  • My story carpet was a series of 30 dots in five colors. The students chose a dot to sit on.
  • I always started PK-1 storytime with the ABC Song in sign language.
  • I then showed students 1-2 sign language signs that would go with our story that day. These were often animal signs, but we also did stars, trees, the sun, and other items in nature. I am not trained in sign language; I looked up the signs on YouTube when I planned the storytimes. As much as possible, I paired fiction stories with nonfiction, but I did not usually read all of one of the stories. For example, for the book I’m A Manatee by John Lithgow, I showed photos of manatees and read a few facts from a nonfiction book about manatees.

Checkout procedures for PK-Grade 1

  • For both the elementary schools I worked in, Grades PK and K checked out one book at a time. Grade 1 started the year at one book, then graduated to two books when the class was ready.
  • PreK teachers did not allow books to go home with students. I checked all the PK books to the teachers and printed a list at the end. We had Destiny, and the “overdue” books not returned this week were listed in red.
  • After the story, I called students to check out by colored dot. I did this randomly so students never knew which dot would be called first or last.
  • Students who were not checking out went to the tables when their color was called. I had an activity on the tables for students to complete after checkout. The tables had colored signs on them that matched the carpet dot. Yes, students sometimes forgot their dot color, so I would just make up one for them.
  • Students checking out found their “library card” on the table. I had spread these out before the class came in. The “library card” was simply a colored index card (each class in the grade was a different color) with the students’ Destiny barcode label + the students’ first name and initial written in black sharpie.
  • Students brought their book and their library card to my desk to check out. I scanned the card, then the book.
  • The student then went to the tables to complete the activity.

After Checkout Procedure

  • Checked out books were to go underneath the students’ chair. I’ve had too many times that the student finished reading their book in 5 minutes and wanted to get another one.
  • After everyone was checked out, I picked up the remaining library cards from the table. I went through the names and made sure everyone whose card was left behind on the table did NOT have a library book to take with them. You’d be amazed how many students got a book and forgot to check it out!
  • For students who didn’t bring their book or did not get a book, I scanned their cards to double-check their library record. About half the time, they didn’t get a new book because they “forgot” or didn’t realize they could get one today. For those who forgot their book, I showed them what it looked like (possible with Destiny TitlePeek) and asked if they knew where it was.


Did you notice I never said I had checked the books in? Nope! I couldn’t leave the class to do that. Depending on the class and time of day, I often had my library aide or a student helper from recess who could check in the books. Some teachers liked to do it when their class came in. Let’s just say that the books got checked in before I let the students check out new ones. Sometimes, I would ask the student in front of me to find their book in the basket. Ultimately, we made it work.

Exit procedures for PK-Grade 1

  • Allow about 5 minutes for line-up. You don’t want this rushed.
  • When it was time to line up, I called students by table color to get their book, push in their chair, and sit in line (I had marked the line with colored masking tape on the carpet).
  • I waited for the entire color group to complete the steps before calling the next group.
  • Once everyone was sitting in line, I started singing the Hug Your Books song. This was their cue to sing with me and stand up.
  • When I was in specials rotation, I had the teacher bringing in the next class take the previous class back to their teacher. YES, this absolutely ruffled a few feathers, but for the most part, the teachers were agreeable. The principal backed me on it, so the teachers who didn’t like it just had to suck it up.

Teachers constantly running early or late? Here’s a perfect fix (for you anyway).

I HIGHLY recommend having the teacher bringing the new class take the previous class back to their teacher. This solves so many problems:

  • My specials rotation transition time was 5 minutes, but I rarely had five actual minutes to set up anything in between the classes. Teachers were constantly too early for drop-off and too late for pick up.
  • You are not stuck monitoring two classes at transition time. This is a safety and supervision issue, and you should treat it as such when talking to your principal about it. Get your principal on your side–some teachers will not like this new procedure.
  • If the new class coming into the library is older students, you can have them check out books first. This will give you time to set up the library for them if needed.
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