End of the Year Checklist for School Librarians

The end of the school year can be a hectic and chaotic time. There is so much to do and not a lot of energy to do it! Between reminding students to return their library books, checking in and shelving the books, working on inventory and end of the year reports, planning fun but educational activities to keep the students' attention and a thousand other things I don't have time to mention, it can be exhausting.

My school always sends out an end of the year checklist to all staff. It's usually three or four pages long but the section that applies to me could be written on a post-it note. Most years I never even turn mine in. So over the years, I have come up with my own checklist that I use at the end of the school year. I thought I would share it with all of you. Of course every library is different, but hopefully, this list will help you to plan and get organized now so you can have a smooth start to the new school year.

You can download the checklist at the end of this post. Since everyone's library is so different I made it an editable PowerPoint document.


This one probably takes me the longest to do. By the end of the year, my office usually looks like a tornado went through it. I am so busy throughout the school year that I tend to leave things piled up and say "I'll get to that later". Well later is usually the end of May and then I'm in a mad rush to get it all done. 

I begin by going through all of the paper, recycling what I do not need and filing away the rest. I shred all of the student information forms teachers have given me throughout the year. I organize my cabinets and all my supplies. I'll go through my school supplies like crayons and glue sticks. I make note of what I want to buy at the back to school sales. Remove bulletin boards and make sure my back to school materials are easy to find for next school year. Review any orders that may be outstanding or will come due over the summer. I also have a tub that I put in books and materials that I will need for back to school lessons. I don't worry about having everything in there that I will use, but I like having some things ready because there is never enough time in the fall to get ready.

Library Specific Tasks

These tasks will definitely vary from library to library. I'm sure you can add and delete from this list. 
  • Run overdue notices for students and teachers. 
  • Run end-of-the-year reports (circulation statistics for each month and the school year, lost book reports, cataloging reports and whatever else you need for your records.)
  • Finish up your inventory if you did one. I usually do my inventory throughout the school year but that's just my preference.
  • Complete end-of-the-year reports if they're required. If they're not required you may want to create your own to help advocate for your library. 
  • Take down book displays, signage, book bins, and tubs - anything that is out on display.
  • Teacher equipment - make sure it's all accounted for and working. 
  • If you have a book fair in September you might want to make sure everything is in order (although you know the book fair people will be calling you incessantly!)


Make sure you clean up your school computer and save your files somewhere else. And clean out your email! You do not need an email announcing that there are donuts in the workroom from October. (Yes, I just deleted an email like this.) Store your document camera and put your SmartBaord markers and eraser someplace safe. I always cover my SmartBoard as well. 


I always have a pile of things to take home so I have a specific tub that I use for this. Whether it's personal items or materials I need to work on over the summer, they all go in this tub. And don't forget to clean out the refrigerator. And if you don't already have a password list somewhere, make a list of any passwords you might need over the summer. 

Whew! I'm exhausted just reading this list! What would you add to this list? 

Happy end of the school year! 

 End of the year checklist for school librarians

How to Get Library Books Returned at the End of the Year

Advice for school librarians and media specialists
As we prepare to wrap up another school year we are faced with one of our biggest challenges: getting all those library books returned! I have tried many strategies over the years with varying results. In this post, I am going to share with you some different tricks and ideas that will (hopefully) help get those books turned in before the last day of school.

Award prizes  

Advice for school librarians and media specialists

Award some kind of class prize or award for the first class in each grade level that returns all their books. Bribery works! Suggestions:
  • Eat lunch in the library
  • Eat lunch outside in a special spot
  • Make ice cream sundaes for the classes. If you do all the classes at the same time you can set up an assembly line and it goes pretty quickly. 
  • Instead of sundaes, you can give out freeze pops, ice cream sandwiches etc.
  • Popcorn and a movie
  • Have an outdoor reading day. Take the students outside, find some shade or put up some umbrellas. Play some music, provide refreshments and plenty of books to read. 
  • Offer extra time for the classes to come in and play board games or to do a special STEM or makerspace activity.

Get teachers involved

Advice for school librarians and media specialists

Give a prize not only to the classes that have returned all of their books but to the teacher as well. Offer to cover their recess or lunch duty, provide an extra planning time or a gift certificate to Starbucks or Target. You might be surprised how competitive they can be knowing they get an extra thirty minutes of planning to work on their end of year paperwork.

Advice for school librarians and media specialists

When a student returns all of their library books you can put their name into a raffle. Suggestions of things to raffle off:
  • Keep your display posters from the Scholastic Book Fair and raffle them off. 
  • Restaurant or movie passes if you can get them donated
  • Have students choose from a treasure box of small toys, candy, gifts. 
  • Ask the PTO to purchase prizes
  • Free books. Purchase the bargain packs or bruised books from Scholastic Book Clubs or purchase books from the book fair. Buy some extra copies of a really popular title and keep them to use as raffle prizes.


Advice for school librarians and media specialists
Make sure everyone in the school knows how many books still need to be returned. Break it down by grade level and teacher. If possible create some type of display in the front of the school by the main office. This is the place that sees the most traffic in the school, from both parents and students. Make it colorful and eye-catching. 

Other ideas
Advice for school librarians and media specialists

These are for the more adventurous librarians. Which I will be the first to admit, I am not one! 

Make an offer to the students. If all books are returned by a certain date (or a certain percentage of books) offer to:
  • dye your hair a certain color
  • throw a pie in your face
  • kiss a pig
  • duct tape yourself to the wall
What do you do to encourage students to return their books? Comment and let us know. 

Advice for school librarians and media specialists