The Bibliopolis Book Drop

Today’s post is inspired by a suggestion from a Bibliopolis Dad at Gracepoint Berkeley church:

Dear Gracepoint Church Library:

It would be great if there were a way for the kids to drop off their books when the library is closed.

It had been a while since this dad had been to Bibliopolis, so he didn’t know about our awesome DIY book drop. I realized many of you don’t know about it either — hence, the post. These awesome kinds of book drops, as well as the ones that go through a wall, can run up to $4,000. But who needs one of those when you’ve got MacGyver a pastor with awesome tools, a laundry hamper, and some bungee cords? Behold…

pastor ed kang gracepoint berkeley book drop

Pastor Ed Kang, cutting a slot in the door, whilst wearing sreppas (slippers said in a Korean accent) no less. I’d say “like a boss” if I said things like that.

bibliopolis book drop sign

It’s important to teach vocabulary in context, so I carpe every opportunity to teach some SAT words. (“Gargantuan” and “tome” are good words.)

(Cute) laundry hamper from Target® and two bungee cords. It’s working so far.

This is where patrons return books when the library is open. Again, IKEA is not an official sponsor of Bibliopolis. But the DRÖNA box is no longer available in that (cute) color. Just sayin’. (Shout out to Gracepoint Irvine church and Peter the Anteater on the left. Zot!)

I don’t know who loves the book drop more: the kids or me! Now they can return their books whenever they’re at HB, and they don’t feel stressed about having to carry their books with them all the time just in case they happen to cross paths with me. I have the piece that was cut out of the door, and we like to tell the story of how the book drop came to be (the boys especially find it awesome). It’s already part of Bibliopolis lore. From all of us at Bibliopolis – thanks, Uncle Pastor Ed!


Bibliopolis Adult Extension

A frequently asked question these days as I walk around Gracepoint Berkeley church is, “Can adults check out books at Bibliopolis?” Another permutation is, “Can adults hang out in there and chill?” My answer to both is usually a version of, “Whatchutalkinboutwillis?” And while I can’t have open hours for adults to come in for story hour or silent reading with the kids, I have heard your cries and introduce Bibliopolis Adult Extension [insert crowd’s applause].

It resides in the “real” church library in Building A. For now, it’s super low-key, but my Biliophiluses and I will be working to make it an inviting space to encourage all of you adults to read! While I won’t be there to book talk a title, or help you find a book, the good news is that it is open all the time. Or any time the church building is open. There are some good fiction and non-fiction books on the bookcases along the wall on the right side when you first enter the library from the hallway. There are books for adults, as well as some of the young adult and children’s literature that have been mentioned on this blog. For example, there are a couple copies of Between Shades of Grayone of DriveWonderCharlotte’s Web, and even Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (the same version that Mrs. McNulty read to my class!).

bibliopolis adult extension

Those empty shelves will be filled eventually. You are free to donate *GOOD* books. Drop off donations at Bibliopolis proper.

This is an informal lending library. But the expectation is that you bring the books back. There is no time limit, but if it’s been a long time, and someone else wants that book, I reserve the right to contact you and request you bring it back. I think that’s only fair.

You do not need a library card to check out any of these books. You only need a first and last name. And an email address so that you can receive a friendly email notice from Gracepoint Church Library if you are uber* delinquent. All you have to do is fill out the form on a blue clipboard on one of the shelves. (In the picture above, it is on the second shelf from the top.)

bibliopolis book check out

This is an honor system library. Some say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. Imagine all the people. Bringing back their books. Whoa oh-oh-ohhhh. (You have to re-read that singing it to the correct tune!)

That’s right. This is an honor system type of deal. In theory, you *could* take a book without filling out the form. But that’s on you and your conscience! Actually, the only books that are “new” are on the left bookcase. The rest have been there all this time, but maybe this post will encourage people to peruse the shelves, and pick up some of the classics.

Remember, all the “good stuff” we know about reading doesn’t only apply to kids but to “big kids” too! Reading…

  • exercises our brains
  • improves our concentration
  • teaches us about human nature, and about the world around us
  • helps us develop empathy
  • improves our vocabulary and comprehension skills
  • makes us better students (of the Bible!)

It’s only as we read widely and often that we get better at it. My aim is to provide you with books that lead to positive reading experiences, which will hopefully lead to a genuine love of reading, no matter what kind of negative experiences your personal reading history is sprinkled with!

To borrow the words of Rainer Maria Rilke, a little out of context: “You are not too old, and it is not too late!

Becoming stronger readers overall will help us in the endeavor of prioritizing sitting before God’s word in order to hear from him, of learning to think as we dig into the Bible, and striving to become people of the Word!

Will you be using the Bibliopolis Adult Extension? What books would you like to see there? Do you think this is going to work? Do you know what song I was referencing in the caption above? Share your responses to the not-so-grand opening of Bibliopolis Adult Extension below!




*über is a prefix derived from German (meaning “over”) that is also used as an adjective to mean “over or beyond.”  It’s not one of those made up words created by companies. Your mini-etymology lesson for today!

Book Check-Out System: Low-tech meets High-tech

In my years in the classroom, I tried all sorts of different systems for keeping track of books that students were checking out from me. In the beginning, it was easy for me to just remember. And for the most part, I did know what each of my students was reading, because I had conversations and impromptu reading conferences with them all the time! But the problem came when students from previous years, or students’ friends who heard I had “good books”, or students sent to me by their teachers (!!) would come to check out books. I needed a system. I tried a binder. I tried a clipboard. I tried old school library cards (remember these?). I tried Classroom Organizer by Booksource.  The fact is, no system was perfect. And it was just a given that I would lose a percentage of my books every year. I tried to be optimistic about it, and hoped the book was being passed from friend to friend, rather than suffocating under a bed or in the corner of a closet.

At Bibliopolis, however, I am determined to keep losing books to a minimum. Not so much because of the monetary loss, which I’m more than accustomed to, but because I want to prioritize teaching my patrons about citizenship and community membership through being responsible and accountable for their library books. (This was something I tried to instill in my previous students too, but going from 180+ students to about 30 makes it much more doable!)

After dreaming about one of those official computerized systems with scanners and online catalogs, which would be cool but would also put me out thousands of dollars, I have developed a system that is a combination of low and high technology.

First for the low: I present the official Bibliopolis binder. Patrons must put pen or pencil to paper (gasp!) to check-out their books. This is a challenge for some of our early readers, so thankfully, some of the middle school reading buddies help with this process!

check-out binder

This is a binder. Yep, they still sell these.

Each library patron has a check-out page under a tab for their first name. The example I present to you belongs to Pauline K, who is very proud of the fact that she has checked out the most number of books in Bibliopolis’ (very short) history.

henry the hedgehog

That’s Henry the Hedgehog. He has become our unofficial mascot. He’s a bibliophilus. (get it?) He approves of Pauline’s dedication to filling out forms properly so she doesn’t get fined!

Now for the “high tech” part. It’s not going so far as having a barcode scanner and computerized catalog and all, which would be awesome for when we have hundreds of patrons. For now, this will do.

I simply take a quick photo of each patron and his or her books. I email the photo to the patron, if they have an email address, as well as a parent, with a friendly note with their due date. Patrons have up to 3 weeks with up to 3 books at a time. As you’ll see, some take the opportunity to…strike a pose. While others choose to really highlight the book!

one and only ivan

A good book. X is renewing it, in fact!

five kingdoms

Also a good book. As you can tell by the ✌

There you have it. The photo helps the parents know what the books look like, so they can help hunt for them at home when the due date approaches!

For teachers with classroom libraries, what systems do you use, or have you used in the past? Do any of you use any systems for lending out books to your friends?! (Coming soon: how to borrow books from the new lending library shelves in the “grown ups library”)