Listy Lister-stein, Part Deux

I think I may have actually topped myself in organizational nerdiness. I know, I KNOW. You thought it couldn’t be done. You thought to yourself, “Self, this Mrs. Mimi truly is an organizational goddess.” And then you read about this. And you thought again. And maybe you closed your eyes and tried to imagine the glory.

It is that good.

Before you begin to wonder if I am, yet again, pushing you to buy yet another fancy pen, notebook or pad, let me stop you. My office supplies pimping days are not over, however, this is a bit of what I like to think of Recession Genius. With less cash in my pocket, I am finding that I am (slightly) less likely to impulsively purchase a fabulously stylish binder, and am instead encouraged to find more frugal ways to further organize my…well, my everything. (Seriously, everything. You should peek underneath my bathroom sinks right now – it’s awe inspiring AND color coded. Sha-zam!) (However, I will have you note that the Recession has not crimped my desire for bi-monthly pedicures and Starbucks Iced Chai Tea Lattes.) (Or anything Sharpie.) (A girl has needs.)

Where to start, where to start? Well, I have a lot of books. One might even call me a children’s book whore (although the idea of putting the word “children’s” and “whore” in the same sentence makes me cringe a little, I think you can take it.) As I have said before, I have a bit of an obsession with Barnsey (that’s Barnes and Noble to the rest of you) and purchasing shiny, meaty, amazing books for my classroom. The problem is (if you can call it a real problem) that I have SO MANY books that I am unable to use them to the best of their abilities. For example, I will be teaching a unit on non-fiction. We will be discussing the wonder that is the caption, and I will have examples, BUT two weeks later I come across the PERFECT book for that. OR…we’re trying to reduce the number of complaints (read: bitching) after recess – seriously, the first fifteen minutes after recess can be FILLED with some serious 8 year old bitching and moaning – and although we have a productive class meeting, I find the MOST AMAZING BOOK about that in my closet at the end of the year.

Sigh. While I have figured out how to organize, access and integrate my many, many, MANY high heels, I have not found the best way to deal with all my books.


At the end of the year, on a whim, I packed ’em all up, and brought them home. You’re probably thinking I’m insane, but I thought that somehow over the summer, I would plow my way through each and every one of them and come up with something.

And, after a mere 96 hours in my garage, I’ve done it.

I have organized my ass off. And it feels so right.

You see, I created the most amazing, glorious and useful spreadsheet you have ever seen. In this masterpiece, I painstakingly typed in each book’s title and author. Then I read each book. THEN (because there’s more), I listed the approximate reading level when appropriate AS WELL AS the potential purposes each book may serve in my classroom. These purposes can include key words such as “tattling” or “small moment”. I also tagged books as “great use of dialogue”, “example of captions”, and “beautiful collage.”

So…all I need to do is open up the old spreadsheet, search for the correct key word, title or subject area and BINGO! a list of books are at my disposal. As they are all arranged alphabetically, they are quite easy to find as well.

I die.

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  • omg. this officially makes you my hero. =)

    July 30, 2009 at 1:03 am
  • *stands up and applauds with tear in eye* This is awesome. I have a similar issue. I think "oh I could use this section of this book I'm reading to talk about…" (usually some grammar issue).

    Of course I don't write down the page number or book or author…There's a lot of untapped potential floating around somewhere.

    July 30, 2009 at 1:19 am
  • you are amazing! Can you come and do mine too????
    adore reading your blog – always gives me a laugh

    July 30, 2009 at 1:43 am
  • I did that a few years ago! It is fabulous! It also keeps me from buying a second copy because I have something like 3000 books in my classroom library and I forget what I have when book fairs and Scholastic orders come out. It is quite a time saver! Good for you!!!

    July 30, 2009 at 2:05 am
  • I'm in line after summerlandprimaryr4 to have you come organize mine too! Great idea. I'll add it to my "to do" list!

    July 30, 2009 at 2:56 am
  • I typed mine as a databank and can search for certain words like "values" or sort alphabetically by author, title, or subject. Even took it one step further! When I do a unit and borrow books from the library that I truly like, I input them with the library info and presto – I can go online and check the card catalog to see if it's in before I drive to the library. The library entries also serve as my wishlist. The things teachers do with their free time!

    July 30, 2009 at 3:51 am
  • Holy Crap woman.

    Can I just say that I love the term "children's book whore?"

    I tried taking on the same project this summer, but stopped (read: failed miserably) when I ran out of book cases. I didn't even get to the spreadsheet (but it was in the works). Great minds think alike though, right?

    Hmm, perhaps I shal use this entry as motivation to buy more shelves…


    July 30, 2009 at 5:57 am
  • That's amazing! I have also done this in the past but I somehow lost the document… I still have an annotated bibliography document that I am working on but PHEW those are a lot of words! 🙂 Good job!

    July 30, 2009 at 12:36 pm
  • First: *bows to the Organizational Goddess that is Mrs. Mimi*

    Second: I think we might need to see a picture of the bathroom cabinets. Mine is a disaster. I don't even know where to begin. Seriously, why do hair styling tools have SO MANY CORDS??

    July 30, 2009 at 12:47 pm
  • Have you considered using Library Thing? I love it and it allows you to network with others who have an interest in the same books. You can see what they're adding to your library so you can search for the same titles and add them to your collection. You can also tag and organize your titles in many ways. LT also gives you choices of how you want to view your virtual library, I particularly like the book cover view. You can read more about it on my blog:

    July 30, 2009 at 1:23 pm
  • Love this post! It won't change my chaotic library, but loved it anyway.

    I clicked on the link for your book at Amazon and it says it isn't released yet. But you know how they pair books with other books so you might buy both? Yours is paired with dry-erase markers. Just so you know… =)

    July 30, 2009 at 1:55 pm
  • Geez, and I thought that organizing my papers into binders was impressive… Well I know what I'll be doing next summer.
    Please don't forget us when you get "famous"

    July 30, 2009 at 2:04 pm
  • First of all – you guys are AMAZING!!! I feel that all of us organizational nerds (or those who at least appreciate a good fit of organization) should go get a drink together and compare color coding systems. Phenomenal.

    You make me think that perhaps my bestie and I should follow through on our idea to start a classroom organization consulting business…hmmmmm. Or at least write another (insanely hilarious) book just about organizing. Something to think about.

    Kimberly – you are my idol. I heart your idea and am totally bogarting it. Including library titles? Genius.

    Erin – bathroom cab pics? That would open a whole new can of worms..Mrs. Mimi blogs about her personal life. I have a feeling I might lose some readers…ha! But may totally post pics if people appreciate a good basket system.

    vannapk1 = I am so checking out Library Thing. Again, you guys have such amazing ideas! Maybe I should start a teacher website and together we can rule the world! Not a cheesy one, but you know, something very hip and….us.

    Joan – hilarious. Seriously, I can't think of a better pairing. Like fine wine and a good steak.

    I heart my readers.

    July 30, 2009 at 2:07 pm
  • Ooo, I second LibraryThing. I keep the 2,000 books I own and the 14000+ books I've read on it and it's a GREAT tool for reader's advisory and storytime planning.

    July 30, 2009 at 3:05 pm
  • Agreed: I did this a few years ago with my classroom library. It was worth the time spent. Now I've switched grade levels: I really ought to revise it to fit the new curriculum! Bring on the coffee…

    July 30, 2009 at 3:33 pm
  • You are "Teh Awesome!"

    Seriously, I'm actually having yearnings to return to the classroom so I can try some of this organizational awesomeness. Never mind that it would take me three times as long because I taught 7th grade and we read novels-whatevs. 🙂

    I wanted to share a great pic of some people with your book that I received in my email from Pub Weekly this morning. So check your SPAM folder just in case. 🙂

    July 30, 2009 at 3:51 pm
  • Library Thing is pretty wicked, but if you have a Mac, there is something even more glorious: Delicious Library. You can actually SCAN THE BARCODE ON THE BOOK and it will search Amazon, et al and bring you all that information! I'm sorry to be telling you about this after 96 hours of work!

    July 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm
  • Nerd alert! I love it.

    July 30, 2009 at 6:58 pm
  • That is quite the most amazing organisational feat I've heard of. Well done you – you must feel great!
    Glad I found you, too. I'm new to teacher-blogging and I was wondering where all the other teacher-bloggers were hanging out!

    July 30, 2009 at 8:57 pm
  • Fabulous! I have really enjoyed reading your blog.

    July 30, 2009 at 10:35 pm
  • I strive to be such an organizational goddess! Maybe now that I have one year under my belt I can try to regain my sanity and get it together. Congrats on your book… can't wait to read it!

    July 30, 2009 at 11:45 pm
  • you are ridiculous. stop making me look like such a slacker.

    July 31, 2009 at 9:29 pm
  • Fellow children's book whore here! I love picture books, but Barnes and Noble is way out of my price range- have you been on ? They rock my world!
    You might also want to check out Readerware ( I have my nearly 900 picture books catloged with it. It's especially awesome because I can upload a version of my book list onto an ipod or blackberry- so handy when shopping, since I frequently forget if I actually own a book, or have just heard it before. To get the info into your catalog, you can use their drag and drop feature- pulling an icon from a bookstore website into the readerware screen and it pulls all the info from the website, or you can type in info. I think you can buy a barcode scanner to upload info as well, but I did mine using the amazon website, and it didn't take too terribly long (easy to do while watching tv). Since the amazon info usually includes a description of the book, it's easy to search for certain topics, but I've also added my own tags to make it easy to find books to go with certain themes I do.

    August 1, 2009 at 2:29 am
  • Wow! That is an amazing idea. I, too, am a kids book addict…. I am so going to steal this idea from you!

    August 2, 2009 at 3:57 pm
  • I so **heart** reading your posts because it makes me happy to know someone else is an organizing (freak) person like I am. I work with high school instead, and its not books I need to spreadsheet, but worksheets or books I use in my counseling.
    An organized me is a happy me

    August 2, 2009 at 5:58 pm
  • Mrs. Mimi,
    I was totally impressed until I hear the word garage. sigh. I fantasize that Oprah will send her organizational geniuses to find a way to organize my review copies.

    August 3, 2009 at 3:10 am
  • Congrats on getting organized! You'll quickly say to yourself, "What did I do BEFORE this mess?" Just like several others, I finally said ENOUGH with the books and organized my library complete with spreadsheet. I also went as far as sorting my books by month with homemade tabs (September – Hispanic, school, fall) and put them in book boxes (open from the front with a plastic closure). No more taking boxes down from shelves. I went from 12 boxes to now 4. I realized I was using the same books over and over. Need to get rid of books? Go to,, or These are trading sites and you only pay for postage (media mail).

    August 4, 2009 at 4:27 pm
  • Wow. Just, wow!

    August 8, 2009 at 5:27 pm
  • YOU ROCK! I aspire to be more like you. Now if I could get off my butt it might happen.

    August 9, 2009 at 1:50 pm
  • you are amazing! Can you come and do this for me too?


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    August 19, 2009 at 8:02 am
  • This is awesome. I have a similar issue. How can i share that with you?


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