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I'm Kellie, an avid reader and school librarian who loves sharing and talking about books.As a middle school librarian I get to spend my days doing just that, while also enjoy discovering the perfect books to share with my friends. Ms. Burke's Books is a continuation of that, a place where I can offer my honest opinions on the books I read and hopefully help match you to your new favorite book!
Kellie

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Genrefying Our Fiction Section: Part 1

 
The current great debate for school librarians: organize the fiction section by traditional author's last name or by the current trend of genre? Obviously based on this post's title you know where I and our library stand, but I wanted to write a post explaining why we made the decision to genrefy, how we organized it, and then physically set it up for the 22-23 school year.

Students haven't experienced it yet, so I'm also planning on making this a series once we get some insight on how genrefying is actually working in our library.


Why We Genrefied

I'm at a middle school, with a large ELL (English language learner) population. Our students tend to ask us where fiction books on certain topics or genres are, rather than author. They were big on horror books, as well as wanting to read any book on soccer. For us it was very clear that generefying would be useful for our students and allow them to access the books they wanted much more easily.

Really, my head librarian was all for it and as a newbie librarian it sounded great. Once I was in the library and getting to know our students though, it was very clear how they looked for books. I think you know your students best and that's going to be your #1 determining factor over whether or not genrefying makes sense. 


How We Determined & Labeled Genres

We took our time on this - I definitely was ready to jump all in but such is the na├»ve new librarian! Instead my head librarian ran a report of the fiction section to determine which books should be weeded, then I went and pulled the books from the shelves. This took awhile! 

Once the books were pulled and dealt with, we created a color coded system for our genres. This was more for us to easily be able to shelve books; bigger signs would direct students to which shelves held which genre. At this stage books still remained organized by author last name, until all the fiction books had a genre label.

How we determined the genre was really based on how it was listed with our vendor and in our catalog. Yes, there are many books that could be in multiple genres. Some of them we disagreed with how it was listed in the catalog and we changed it; our rule was what type of reader would most likely pick up this book? 


How We Re-Organized Our Fiction Section

The above two steps took the better part of the school year, as we did it in between teaching classes and other library work. It was slow going but we made gradual progress throughout the year. We took the last few days of school when students couldn't check books out to physically rearrange the books on the shelves.

Our genres are in alphabetical order and moving the books took a lot of shifting books around, using carts, and putting piles on top of low shelves. The series books were originally in a different section, so we were also integrating that with the regular fiction books. There's no clear way to do this beyond using carts, any surfaces, and focusing on getting one genre organized at a time! 

Once the books were moved we put up genre signs (I am not sure where my co-librarian purchased the signs from; we did create some other genres in the same style that weren't included in the original purchase). I also made labels for the shelves as you can never have enough signage to direct middle schoolers! We'll see how well this works and whether we need more signs when school starts this year.


Why We Didn't Genrefy Our Graphic Novels

Our graphic novels are in their own section, which we also moved at the end of the year as they were overflowing in their original shelves! We added a lot and they are the most circulated books, so they now have more space for students to browse. They are organized by author's last name, rather than genre. 

We left this as is because students seem much more willing to browse this section or have a specific series in mind. There does not seem to be a need to organize by genre as students aren't asking for specific types of graphic novels as much. This may change but for now, this seems to be working for students as these shelves are often emptied quickly! We also figure that once students start checking out books we can use the empty space for more dynamic shelving and show off some of the graphic novels that may get overlooked.


What's Next

Actually seeing it in action! Stay tuned for later in the fall, as we see how genrefying works with the students.


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