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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