What does it mean at Kilmer?
Our fiction section was in alphabetical order, sorted by author's last name. This made finding specific books fairly easy if and only if students knew an author's last name. They could search our library catalog or just remember an author they read and loved, but this organizational schema is not ideal for basic browsing or for finding new and different reading selections.
Our fiction section ran in a line, basically wrapping around the perimeter wall of the library -- a great layout for a linear structure like alpha order, but less than ideal for a categorical system like genreficiation. So, we switched our fiction and non-fiction collections to provide better homes for both. In spring of last year, my (now retired) co-librarian completed EXTENSIVE (and badly needed) weeding of non-fiction so that we could move those books into a smaller shelf space. Our fiction collection needed more room to spread out, more space to breathe -- we wanted to face some books with covers out, put more titles on display and really show off what we have to students
As I have already mentioned, reader accessibility is our primary "why." Our spring library practicum student (who then easily stepped into my retiring colleague's shoes to become my co-librarian) crafted a student survey before we started to shift our collection: over 70% of students indicated they would prefer a genreficed bookstore-style fiction section.
I also like to move things around in our space every couple of years; I think that change is crucial to keeping our library program moving foward. In the 10 years I have been at Kilmer, we have moved biography twice, interfiled reference with non-fiction, and shifted fiction several times and expanded it greatly, made room for Manga, grown our magazine collection, and added a Makerspace. I think it is important to continually evaluate library spaces and evolve our layout to ensure it continues to meet community needs. It keeps our collection fresh and it keeps me personally more focused on what our students and staff need and want from our library
We selected eleven categories that matched the current reading habits of our students; we were a bit bound by the existing location codes in our school system's union catalog. Our genres are: science fiction, fantasy, supernatural, horror, mystery, historical fiction, adventure, humor, sports, romance, and realistic fiction.
I have also noticed more students using our library catalog to find books; I actually think this reorganization has turned our students into more independent users of our library. Along the way, we have encouraged student ownership of this process by asking them to bring genre changes to us--if they have a convincing argument as to why a book should live in a different genre than we initially chose, we are happy to make the change.
On of my favorite parts of this whole transformation is that I hear many more conversations about books among students in our stacks--along with genrefication, our new physical space for fiction is a much better fit for discussing, recommending and finding great books to read.
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I know passions run hot in this issue in the land of libraries; I would love to know where you stand on genrefication. We have left non-fiction in Dewey order for now but I am curious to hear from those of you who have reorganized that section as well; I would love for ALL of our books to be more accessible for our students. Please share your thoughts and your own genrefication adventures with me!
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