Library Life, Organization

How I Use The Happy Planner as a School Librarian

Disclaimer: Please note that this post is in no way endorsed, sponsored or administered by The Happy Planner®. I simply love the product and decided to share a post about how great it has been working out for me. 

This may come across as peculiar to some, but I LOVE planning, so much so, I get very excited when it comes time to pick out my new planner for the year. However, since becoming a school librarian two years ago, I have struggled with finding a planner on the market that meets my planning needs for this job. As a school librarian, you wear MANY hats, so with having many facets to this job, I really needed a planner that would help me stay on track and keep all of my essential planning papers collectively together. It was important to me for my planner to meet these key needs first and foremost:

  • A layout for the school day so I can schedule by period (but also be able to see the whole week spread out on one page)
  • Ability to add and remove pages
  • Ability to customize my pages
  • Room for growth
  • Something pretty (yes, this is important!)

I have tried many different types of planners out there, including teacher planners, yet I always found there to be many inserts included that served the needs of a teacher and not a school librarian. Sometimes I would find a teacher planner that could maybe work, but because it was bound together and I was unable to remove unnecessary sections, it seemed like a waste of money to me to buy something and not be able to customize it. I have even tried creating my own planner, developing my own inserts and having it coil-bound, which worked with some success, but I was never completely satisfied with any of my creations. Deep down, I knew what I was looking for in a planner, I just hadn’t found the right one yet, that is, until recently.

Introducing, The Happy Planner® 

Taken directly from their website, The Happy Planner® is “a disc-bound planner system that combines your love for creativity and your need for organization”. They have all different planner types, layouts, styles, and they even have a notebook line! Here’s a further breakdown of what they have to offer:

Planner Types

via The Happy Planner®

Layouts & Styles

via The Happy Planner®
via The Happy Planner®

More Happy Planner

  • Happy Notes – These are the notebooks, which come in big, classic, and mini sizes
  • Accessories – There are a variety of accessories you can add to your Happy Planner, such as accessory books, punches, discs, filler paper, extension packs, and washi tape
  • Stickers – There are also different themed sticker packs, such as seasonal, colourful, school-themed, and decorative
  • Box Kits – Box kits come with a Happy Planner, but they also include stickers, inserts, and more. Instead of planners, some kits may come with a memory book, budgeting book, or even a recipe book inside.

Discs vs. Sizes

Depending on the size of your planner, the number of discs you will need may vary:

  • Big – 11 discs (normally the size of their teacher planners)
  • Classic – 9 discs
  • Mini – 7 discs

To really understand where to start with all of this, because let’s face it, there are many parts to this type of planner, I suggest reading more here.

My Happy Planner

Here is what I ended up purchasing to meet my librarian planning needs:

  • Books Are Magic Notebook – I choose the notebook, because I LOVED the cover! It just screamed librarian/book lover and it was the big size, which is what I wanted. Only problem was it was a notebook, not a planner. I decided to get it anyways, because I was able to develop all of my own inserts for it, plus I wanted the notebook paper anyway. It ended up being WAY cheaper purchasing a notebook rather than the planner, mind you, it ended up being more work though because I had to create the inserts myself (just something to keep in mind). Find it here.
  • Big Hole Punch – You need their hole punch; you cannot use a regular one. Their puncher makes differently shaped holes that fit and latch onto their discs perfectly. Find it here.
  • Gold Discs – My notebook already came with rings, but because I knew my planner was going to become thicker, I purchased bigger discs. I ended up getting the classic size in gold. It came with 11 rings, which is how many I needed for the big size notebook. Find it here.
  • Bookmarks – I purchased these because I knew I was going to have many different sections going into my planner and I needed something to help divide it all up. My notebook already came with three dividers, but the bookmarks will allow me to also mark my place if I need to refer back to different sections. Three bookmarks came in the pack. Find it here.

Note: I was able to purchase all of the above products at Michaels Canada. Not all items are available to purchase via their website, but is available in-store.

My Inserts

  • Notebook Pages – These pages already came with my notebook. If you want to purchase a pack, you can purchase filler paper here.
  • Calendar and Planning Sheets – these sheets I got from The Sparkling Librarian. I didn’t end up using all the pages in this pack, but I used many and because it was made to be editable, I was able to adjust the pages according to my job’s needs. What I ended up including were the following pages from the pack:
      • Library Calendar – Here I can list the different things going on per term, and also, along the side, I can keep track of some of the yearly things I need to accomplish, such as weeding the collection and planning the book fair, just to name some examples.
      • Book Display Dates – I love this spread, because there are so many themed things that happen each month and as a library, you really want to be able to highlight everything possible, so this allows me to look and plan ahead what books I need to pull to make displays and curate that month. I edited this page, because there were a lot of American holidays listed, so I just changed some of this around and added in Canadian holidays and some other things that my school board specifically observes.
      • Units at a Glance – In my specific position, I do not do any teaching of the curriculum, but I still included this spread in my planner, because I do focus on different themes with different grades. For instance, with primary classes, in September we may look at how to care for library books when we borrow them or come January, for intermediate grades, we may be diving into looking at plagiarism and citing. I collaborate with teachers to help support them and integrate different library skills into the curriculum they teach. There is research that says there is a huge disconnect between first year students entering post-secondary studies and their ability to conduct research. The argument is there needs to be foundational skills built at the high school-level in order to prepare students, but I  argue this and question what can we do at the elementary-level to lay the foundation? I’ve been in talks with our high school librarian about this and so this spread will again help me layout what skills I want to make sure I show students and help them work on so they can not only successfully navigate the library, but also be successful with info lit skills and conducting research.
      • Notes for Next Time – Something I carried with me from my teaching days is reflecting after I’ve delivered content. In this case, any sort of library programming or instruction I do, I like to reflect on it afterwards, specifically questioning what worked, what didn’t work, what do I need to change next time or what should I keep the same. I really like this page, because it’s an easy way to quickly jot down a few thoughts, but it allows me to refer back at a later date when planning in the future.
      • Essential Skills – Like I mentioned earlier, in my role, I am not required to teach anything from the curriculum, but I am a big believer that library skills and information literacy topics should be covered and led by the library. Again, it’s not a part of my job description, but more of an extra I like to do. These essential skills I did not come up with on my own. I used to work for another school board who compiled a list of skills students should know from kindergarten to grade 8. My board doesn’t have anything like this, so I adapted what my previous board had provided. The list is long though and to be honest, there are some things on this list that we just wouldn’t do in my library system, for example, showing students keyboarding skills – this just isn’t something we would do. I kept everything on these sheets though, because this year is more of a trail. I want to see what I’m able to incorporate and what we can touch on, but also work with our high school librarian to discuss what they need by the time students hit grade 9. This is going to be my project for next school year, but again, we’ll see how it goes, especially with COVID-19, we have no idea what next year is going to look like.
  • Weekly Schedule Planning Sheets – these are from a very old planner I once had that Staples made for teachers. They are the best planning sheets that I’ve ever used and I have just re-used them over the years. I have created something similar though that you can download for free from my TPT store.
  • Checklists
    • Weeding Checklist – I have included a weeding sheet that was shared with me by The Joyful Library. This is honestly one of my favourite sheets. The Joyful Library had posted a picture of it posted on her Instagram and I DM’d her asking if she wouldn’t mind sharing a copy with me. She was so lovely and sent it to me for free. I was able to edit this page too, so I was able to change the section titles if I had more or less sections with different names. Weeding sometimes gets pushed to the back burner even though sometimes it does. It’s a cyclical process and I find that if you chip away at it throughout the school year, you can cover every section in the library, no problem. For me though, I need a sheet to keep me on track. This one works perfect and I can schedule different months to work through different sections of the library collection to weed. Again, this sheet just helps you stay organized and determine visually what has been done and what is still left to be tackled.
    • Beginning/End of Year Procedures – There is a lot that goes on at the beginning of the school year in terms of reopening the library, probably even more so when you are trying to close the library at the end of the year. Because there is so much that needs to happen, I always worry that I’ll forget to do something. This procedure checklist, again, curtesy of The Sparkling Librarian, is something I’ve used before and it helps me figure out what I need to get done, when I need to do it, allowing me to visually glance and see what is still left to do. It’s great and I highly recommend using something like this. Again, The Sparkling Librarian makes these available for free and you can edit them to fit your needs.
  • Other – I will be using my note paper to document staff/admin meetings, collection development wish list, etc.

To see these inserts and how they are exactly arranged in my planner, check out my stories on Instagram, saved under “Planning”.

Calendar and Planning sheets from The Sparkling Librarian
Calendar and Planning sheets from The Sparkling Librarian
Weeding sheet from The Joyful Library

Things to Consider

It’s Not Cheap

In total, I spent about $80.00 CAD for everything to get me started, and remember, I bought a notebook which was about $15.00 CAD – a planner is normally over $30.00! Some people would never spend this much on a planner probably, but I’m the kind of person that if I can reuse something, I will. I love the cover of this planner so much and it is something I want to reuse for the next couple of years, so long as it holds up. I know that it will last as long as I take good care of it, because a friend of mine, who initially introduced me to The Happy Planner, has had her same planner for three years now and she just buys new inserts each year. She still has the same rings and same cover. Even if I do have to purchase a new cover, if I purchase a notebook again, like what I did this time, that’s $15.00, which is cheaper than most planners. I’m not counting what it will cost me to print my own inserts, but considering if you just print your inserts from home, or even go to the library to print where it is typically under $1.00 a page, this still works out cheaper than most planners.

You Cannot Use a Regular Whole Punch

What makes The Happy Planner unique is that you can insert and remove pages from the discs easily, but this is because the style of holes that are on the paper. This can only be achieved by using the puncher created by Create 365: The Happy Planner. Something to note is that depending on the size of your planner will determine what size of puncher you need – it is not one size fits all! There are specific hole punchers for your particular size of planner. I have a BIG sized notebook/planner so I required the BIG hole puncher.

Note how the holes are shaped – exclusively for The Happy Planner

What I Like About The Happy Planner

Best of Both Worlds

I tried a binder when I first started working in the school system and I liked how I could insert and remove pages with ease, but disliked the bulkiness of the binder itself. I then later tried having my planner coil-bound. I loved the sleekness of it, making it very similar to the structure of a regular notebook, but unlike the binder, I was not able to add pages after the fact, something I did not realize I would miss so much. The Happy Planner is the best of both worlds for me. It allows me to insert and remove pages whenever I want like a binder, but it has the sleekness of a notebook.

The Ability to Grow

I’m not the kind of person who really gets into the true nature of The Happy Planner, with washi tape and stickers galore, but I did buy new rings for my planner. I love how you can purchase different sized discs depending on what size you want your planner to be. In my case, since I bought a notebook instead of a planner, mine came with smaller sized discs, which are suitable to bind a notebook, but it probably will not hold the entirety of my planner inserts. I decided to purchase new rings that are normally on the Classic Style planners, which gives me a little more wiggle room. There are even bigger rings out there, which I’ve seen some people use to keep all their resources together! The possibilities really are endless.

Make it Your Own

Like I already mentioned, some people dive head-first into the planning world and use it as a means to be creative. If you search the tag #TheHappyPlanner on Instagram, you will know exactly what I’m talking about. Some of the planners I’ve seen look like works of art rather than something that are supposed to be written in everyday! Though I would not say I am one of these people, I do like pretty things. Sometimes even the smallest of things, like a pretty planner, puts a smile on my face. It’s a pick-me-up that just overall makes me happy. I love creative outlets and I find being able to create and develop my own planner as being one of them. With The Happy Planner, I like how I have the ability to choose from different covers too. Even though I was not really into any of the teacher planner covers this year, The Happy Planner is so customizable, I was still able to take a notebook and turn it into a planner.

I hope you have all found this post helpful! I know it can be difficult sometimes trying to stay organized in the library, but I’m hoping this planner is going to keep me on track next school year. Who know’s what next school year will look like, but at least I feel ready, planner in hand.

Questions? Comments? Leave them below!

2 thoughts on “How I Use The Happy Planner as a School Librarian”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your planner process! I’ve always loved the idea of using a pretty planner, but I would get frustrated at how there were always sections I wouldn’t use. I love how you’ve customized yours specifically to what you do. I might start my year off in August with one of these. And it’s so pretty!

    Liked by 1 person

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