Reflections on Instructional Technology and Media

Going on a Shelfari April 2, 2008

I have been marginally aware of the existence of Shelfari for several months now, but have only started exploring the site and its potential use this week. So I thought I would share what I have seen and what I would like to see in terms of the use of this product in the K-12 environment.

What is Shelfari?

Shelfari is a web 2.0 tool that allows you to identify what books you have read, what you are currently reading, what you hope to someday read, what you own, and designate favorites among them.  You can rate the books, write reviews of them, and TAG them. Like many web 2.0 tools, you can add friends and compare your shelves. You can find others in shelfari who are reading the same book or ask for feedback on a book you might be interested in reading.  You can create groups and focus on specific books in the group.

Books can be added to your shelf manually through a search by title, author, or ISBN. Book lists can also be imported. The books are displayed on the shelf with their book covers shown which makes it really attractive.

How can this be used in the K-12 environment?

School Library 

My immediate thought goes to the library media center. How cool would it be for the media center to have a shelfari account in which they could create a shelf for:

  • new books that have just arrived in the library
  • book of the month themes
  • books for specific projects
  • potential new books – let students and teachers review and recommend
  • summer reading lists
  • teacher reading lists

I’ll bet you can think of may more!  All of this can be done using tags. For example, compare my entire shelf list to my Harry Potter list.  All I did, was to tag each of my Harry Potter books with “hp” and then the shelf is easily generated. You can see how creating a march2008 tag for each book you want to feature in March will let you create special lists for any need you have!


Another thought – many teachers have their own classroom library. They could create a tag for all the items in their classroom and then create another to make a wishlist. Parents could then see what teachers need – you never know, one parent might just expand your classroom library for you! Teachers could also share what they are reading and which books are their favorites. We all know that when children see adults share their love for reading, it increases the liklihood they will read more!


Let’s take this a step further, what if students created their own shelf! They could add the books they read throughout the year and watch their shelf grow. This is so potentially powerful, it gives me goosebumps (not the book sereis, the actual bumps on my skin). One word of warning – Shelfari says that it legally only allows children 13 yrs old and up to create their own account. I can understand this – there is no way to block their access to some of the more adult lit that other shelfarians are sharing. Maybe a good idea for younger users, is to create a classroom account and add books as a class through the year. You could then tag the book with each students name or pseudonym to create a shelf for each student. Might be a cool way to see which books are the most popular.

I am still learning this app and I am sure I will have lots more ideas about this.  How many of you are using Shelfari? Find me and friend me!


6 Responses to “Going on a Shelfari”

  1. Fran Says:

    I currently use Library Thing but like the shelving display that Shelfari offers. I can definitely see the possibilities for school libraries. Need to check and see if I can open an account for my media center separate from the personal account I just opened on Shelfari.

  2. Jason Moore Says:

    I am really enjoying reading your blog, Tracy.

    I’ve sparingly used a facebook application like this called Goodreads Books. I like the idea of Shelfari being that it is independent of a social platform that may (will be) gone tomorrow.

    Good stuff.

  3. Karyn Gloden Says:

    I am excited to learn more about how we might use Shelfari in our district. One immediate thought is that our Standard Course of Study does requrie middle school students to keep an annotated book list (Goal one)–perhaps there would be more motivation for this to happen if done using Shalfari. Not only would the individual student benefit from keeping a record of her reading life, but the opportunities for sharing and having literacy discussions with peers might generate some powerful results. More thinking. K

  4. Barbara Simmons Says:

    I opened an account today and started listing books on my shelves. I can definitely incorporate this into our reading program at Ephesus.

    Thanks fo sharing!

  5. Leesa Cole Says:

    Did you ever find a way to safely have students create their own accounts under a teacher account?

    • Lauren Shultz Says:

      I would also like to know if you have found a way to safely have students create their own accounts under a teacher account. My concern is that I would like to use this with 5th graders. Maybe the best way to do this is to have a teacher shelf and then tag students by first name last initial. What do people think? The visual of the book shelf is so engaging for kids–it is a shame not to find a safe way to use Shelfari in school.

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