Beginner’s Guide to School Library Supplies

This post will be the first in a long-running series I’ll call the “Beginner’s Guides.”  I plan on posting a new Beginner’s Guide post about once a month.  Please let me know if you have any requests for Beginner’s Guides topics.

Many school libraries are run by staff who have little to no library training.  Even those of us who attended library school or have our library credentials may lack certain knowledge about basic details like supplies.  On my first day at my first library job, I realized I had a ton of theoretical knowledge about collection development, information literacy, and reading instruction, but I had NO CLUE where to buy shelf signs or spine labels.  I also had little knowledge about the types of book suppliers and book processing options available to libraries. 

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Here are some basic things every school library beginner needs to know about ordering.

Where Do I Buy Books?

  • Amazon*– Probably the easiest and quickest way to order book, IF you’re using a credit card.  Purchase orders are a little trickier on Amazon, and the processing options leave much to be desired.
  • School Library Book Suppliers– I’m partial to Follett, but I’ve also had positive experiences with Mackin, PermaBound, and Junior Library Guild. Each of these suppliers carries a huge selection of books, e-books, and AV materials, and they all offer a variety of processing options.  They also offer collection development services, opening day collections, and subscription/standing order services.  It’s very easy to use a purchase order with any of these companies.
  • ChristianBook (CBD)- I can usually find any Christian I need from Amazon or any of the school library book suppliers I mentioned above.  However, there are instances where CBD is the only place I can find a certain book.  They are also good if you’re a Christian school looking for Christian-themed gifts or awards.

Where Do I Buy Library Supplies?

I’ve had positive experiences with Demco, Brodart, Gaylord, and Highsmith. Each of them has a large selection of bookmarks, processing materials, promotional materials (bookmarks, posters, etc.), furniture, and displays.  They all accept credit cards, purchase order, and account billing.

I purchase most of my barcodes from Follett Software because I like the quality of their barcodes.  However, their ordering process is cumbersome and inefficient.  (They require you to fax in your order every time, and then they call you back if you want to use a credit card number).

What questions or advice do you have regarding ordering books and supplies?  Please share your thoughts.




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11 thoughts on “Beginner’s Guide to School Library Supplies

  1. I was just about to place a first order with The Library Store.  Would you recommend Demco instead?  I’m on a very limited budget ( of course!) and want to get the best prices.  I need to purchase some sort of laminate because most of the books we are starting out with are donations of paperbacks and I would like to protect them in some way to help them last longer in circulation.  Any recommendations?

    • Kristen,
      I’m so glad you found the post useful. Honestly, I haven’t had much experience with the Library Store, so I can’t really give you an informed opinion. I do order the majority of my supplies from Demco because they have an incredible range of prices and selection. We order their Demco brand covers and have always been happy with them. I will say that I rarely covered paperback donations simply because the price and time of covering them was not worth it unless I knew the book was going to be in high demand. That may not be the situation at your library, but I would suggest you consider the time factor before covering donations. My rule of thumb: I cover the book if I would’ve purchased it. If it’s a donation I wouldn’t have selected on my own, I don’t cover.

  2. I’m a Baker&Taylor, Bound To Stay Bound fan. For school libraries where books receive hard use, BSTB is worth the extra money. B&T offers a similar product to Follet’s Titlewave. Follet seems limited in its offerings. I’ve found The Library Store to be higher priced than BroDart or Demco. Always check to see if your state has the following: a state-wide school librarians handbook (see Maine Association of School Libraries website), a state-wide library buying consortium and list of vendors with discounts clearly described. 

  3. Please consider The Library Store for supplies. I also endorse purchasing locally, giving back to the businesses that support our school and whose children we teach.

    • Excellent point about purchasing locally, Bookreader777.  Thanks for the idea.  As for The Library Store… like I told Kristen below, I haven’t had experience with them, so I can’t give an informed opinion.  I know a lot of other libraries use them, though.  I make it a point to only recommend services and products I’ve actually used.

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  5. Where do I find good courses and trainings during summer? I’m a new Librarian and I’m overwhelmed with information and I think a beginner course will help!

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