Back in early 2019, I reorganized the fiction section of my library, categorizing books into genres and labeling them with colored stickers to help students find them. You can read more about the exact process I used back here, and I’ll include more genrefication resources at the end of the post. Since that time, I have reflected and reworked some things. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Note: This post focuses specifically on fiction. I’m currently in the process of de-emphasizing Dewey in my non-fiction section, so keep an eye out for posts on that later in the year.
Genrefication Reflections: 3 Years Later
Choose the genres your students want
In my original genrefication, I had a section for sports fiction. Despite working on developing it with new titles, I found that they weren’t really circulating well. So I moved them into other sections (mostly Realistic and Action/Adventure).
Meanwhile, I had noticed two groups of realistic fiction readers. One group really didn’t want to read any books where romances were the main driving force of the plot. The other group wanted stories focused on relationships. So I created a Relationships/Romance section and worked on further developing it. It’s quickly become one of our more popular genres and it’s making both groups happy.
Another big surprise for me was how popular the Classics and Literary fiction section became. I weeded the ones that were in bad shape (faded, yellowed, etc) and I added in a lot of contemporary literary fiction. My students love it.
Teach students how to search the catalog
Despite my hopes that genrefication would make our fiction section completely intuitive, some students still struggle to find specific books. So I’ve worked on teaching students how to search the catalog and note the sublocation of books. It’s a work in progress, but they’re getting better at finding things on their own.
Add lots of signage
Every genre section has a sign. The color corresponds with the label colors. I also have copies of the key throughout our fiction section. I’ve realized that students don’t always notice our 8.5 x 11 signs, so one of my next steps is going to be creating larger signage like what Kelsey Bogan uses in her library.
Face out those books
In every genre section, I display lots of face out books. So even if students don’t notice my signage or the color stickers, they notice interesting looking books and get drawn into those sections. With the books being organized by genre, when students find interesting books on display that are within that genre, they’ll often keep browsing and find more. I’ve also been working on incorporating more dynamic shelving, especially in our fantasy section. Be sure to check out Kelsey’s post if you’re unfamiliar with it – it really makes your collection stand out.
Circulation is up (but this might not be the only reason)
I’ve definitely noticed an uptick in circulation since genrefying, but I don’t think it gets sole credit. I did a TON of weeding when I first genrefied and I’ve continued to weed since. I’ve been focusing the last few years on developing our fiction collection, and we also got several new bookstore style shelves for the area. Combine all this with a post-pandemic print reading boom and my circulation has more than doubled. I think genrefication definitely played a part, but I wouldn’t say it’s the only factor.
A huge chunk of beefing up our fiction collection is thanks to Junior Library Guild backlist sales and subscriptions – send me a message if you’ve never used them and want to get a $100 coupon for free books.
Be open to change
One thing about genrefying is that your collection will constantly evolve. Sections might move around due to shelf space and popularity. New genres might be added while old ones are absorbed. But ultimately, my students have been happy with the results and they love finding books to read. And I think that’s really the end goal – to create happy students who can easily find great books to read.
Have you genrefied your library? What have you learned from the process?
- Genrefication: How to Organize Your Fiction Section by Genre
- The Care and Feeding of a Vibrant Library Collection (presentation resources)