Thursday, September 10, 2015

Making the leap to Genres

Our middle school, in Norwalk, Iowa, has made the leap to shelving our fiction section by genres. For the time being, we have left our nonfiction with Dewey, but we are leaving the door open to possibly genrefy our nonfiction later.

So first, why did we decided to genrefy?
The HS librarian in my district and myself finally decided to make the jump because we both believe that our purpose is to connect our students with books and to foster a love of reading. If this means a little rearranging, so what? If it helps a student find a book they love, isn’t that our goal?

Frequently Asked Questions & Concerns
  • Why Genrificaiton?
Prior to making the switch, students would ask, “Where are the mystery books?” My best answer was “All over. I could recommend a couple of authors or titles for you.” I feel that having our fiction books shelved by genre will empower students to find books independently that they can connect to or even have a whole section that they know will interest them.

  • Not all books fit in one genre.  
This was a concern that I had too. However, what I soon came to realize is that most (the majority) books have a “best” genre they fit into (even if there are other additional genres). The books that have truly have multiple genres where you really have to decide which genre to put it into are fewer than I imagined. The question that my associate and I asked was, “If a student is looking for this, what genre would they most likely be reading? If students are shelf browsing, where will this have the highest appeal?” I also have the mindset that nothing is permanent. If we determine that a book would fit better in another genre, all we have to do is change the genre sticker and rescan the book for the new location.

  • It takes so much time and effort.
Does it take time, yes. Was it worth it? YES! Both my HS counterpart & myself are very lucky to have full time associates. We could not have done it without them. We also did not try to make this change overnight. Much of the planning, determining genres for books, getting labels, labeling books and moving books took much of a school year. (I also know people who have spent a couple of days during the summer doing all of the work too). When other projects were not going on, this is a project that my associate spent a great deal of time working on.  

  • So, has it really made a difference? Do students like it?
So far, the response seems to be very positive. Students seem to enjoy browsing different genres and being independent in looking for the books. As the year goes on,I hope to see our circulation numbers increase. More importantly, I hope to see our students finding more books that they are interested in and falling in love with reading.