Back to School Checklist for School Librarians

Can you believe it’s time to start thinking about heading back to school? If you’re like me you are feeling a mixed bag of emotions. Excitement and anticipation as well as trepidation and anxiety. You begin to think about everything you need to complete before the first day of school and just how little time you actually have. (Paid time at least). It is easy to become overwhelmed. And if you are new to the library your worries and fears can easily blot out everything else. Keep reading below for my back to school checklist for school librarians…

Sometimes it is difficult to know where to start when preparing for a new school year. So I created a checklist to help you organize your thoughts and begin to plan. There is a list for in-person learning and another list I created for hybrid/distance learning. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it does include what I think are the most important tasks that need to be completed before the first day of school. You can download the checklist at the end of this post. Since everyone’s library is different I made it an editable PowerPoint document.


The first thing you should do is put the library back in order after summer cleaning. Before you move the tables and chairs, think about any layout changes you want to make. Do you want the tables and chairs in a different spot? Once the furniture is moved, unpack any items you put away for the summer like stuffed animals, bean bag chairs or seating cushions. Then tidy up your bookshelves. I always end up storing all sorts of things on my shelves over summer. I have my shelf markers, extra bookends, stacks of books for book displays and all kinds of other miscellaneous items. Next, I usually start on my office. I go through all the mail that has accumulated over the summer and organize my desk. You also want to unpack any orders that came in over the summer.

One way to help you keep organized is with my school library planners. I have several options to choose from including a digital option. You can read more about the planners here.


Decide on how you want to decorate the library for the year. Are you going with a theme or sticking to generic or seasonal décor? If you are brand new to the library I would keep it simple to start with. You do not want to spend all of your time printing and laminating and using the hot glue gun (works so much better than tape!) Put up all your bulletin boards. Think about what book displays you want to put up.

Need some library decorating inspiration? Check out this blog post. You can read some helpful tips on printing your posters and see the 9 different library poster sets I have created.


Fill out all the forms you have to turn in at the beginning of the year. Usually you receive a packet or have to print them off. Take some time and fill them all out at once. Then hand them in right away. I don’t know how many times I waited to turn them in and simply forgot all about them.

Lesson Planning

  • Plan at least two weeks of lessons for all grade levels. Have your copies made, books pulled and ready to read and activities prepped.
  • Outline what you want to accomplish this school year. Broad is fine. Any specific projects or units of study? Anything different than what you normally do?
  • Get your planbook ready. Do you use a paper planner, planbook or Google docs? Do you need to include specific objectives or standards?
  • If you give a grade, make sure your gradebook is set up.
  • Substitute plans. Even if your school does not get a substitute for you, you should still have some kind of substitute folder ready. Make sure to include lists of your policies and procedures and how you want a substitute to handle the day to day tasks. The lesson plans should be generic enough to work any time of the school year. My library no-prep printables are great to leave for a substitute. Include a book list of suggested books to read and activities to go along with them. I suggest having two weeks worth of lessons in your substitute folder just in case. You never know when an emergency will come up and you will have to be out unexpectedly for an extended period of time.
  • Make planning for a substitute easier with my Library Substitute Binder & Lesson Plans.

Destiny Tasks

Whatever circulation system you use, you want to make sure everything is ready to go by the first day of school. These are the tasks that I always complete. Wait to do any work in Destiny until the information has been updated for the current school year (if this applies to you). In my district the information is imported from PowerSchool.

  • Make sure classes and students are updated. Were students moved to the next grade level? Were fifth grade students removed?
  • Check to see if new staff were added to Destiny.
  • Run overdue report by class. I would not run overdue notices yet since many students will return their books at the beginning of the school year.
  • How do you check out books? I run a barcode list by class. I put all the lists in sheet protectors in a notebook. Then when a class comes into the library I just flip to that sheet for checkout.
  • Do you need to run any other reports? Look over your inventory from last year or run teacher reports?
  • Think about how you will run circulation reports during the school year. Set up these reports ahead of time in Destiny and save them as favorites. I can’t always run a circulation report by teacher because of the way PowerSchool imports into Destiny. There are workarounds to problems like this, but it’s best to know about these things ahead of time.
  • Double check your policies (how long a book is checked out for, how many books each grade can check out etc.)


You might read these tasks and think why are they included, these are no-brainers. But these are tasks that are easily overlooked or forgot about until the last second. I know because I have done all of these at one time or another.

  • Uncover your SmartBoard
  • Hook up your document camera
  • Make sure your projector is working
  • What computer do you use for your lessons? Make sure it is connected you are able to login to your school’s network.
  • If you have external speakers, hook those up
  • Log in to websites. Update passwords if needed, make sure you remember your passwords too.
  • If you have devices in your library (Chromebooks, laptops or tablets) check to make sure they are updated and charged.

This is a big list, I know. And it does not cover everything that we do to get ready for a new year. But hopefully it will help you to organize your thoughts and began to plan for what will be a wonderful and successful new school year! You can click the image below to download your checklist.

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2 Responses

    1. I’m sorry about that. I have fixed the link. You can download the checklist now. Thank you!

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