Saturday, November 26, 2011

Genre: Fantasy into Action

I have been thinking, ruminating, contemplating about the whole fiction sorted into genres for a long while now, and the more I though about it the more I felt we needed to at least trial it. I kept putting it off because it is one of those labour intensive monster jobs, but last week we set the wheels in motion with the smallest fiction collection of Junior Fiction which caters for the emerging readers.

We first had to decide on the genres we would begin with and came up with Animal stories, Mystery, Action, Fantasy & Magic, Sci-Fi, Sport, Family, School, Friends, Princess, Movies and Scary. We then had to make 'rules' about what would be in each genre - would the Astrosours go into animals or action? Fairy's would go into Fantasy, but what about Fairy Princesses? We made the decision based on what the main thrust of the story was - if it happened to be pigs on an adventure (like the Pigs in Space series) - the story would be an action story rather than a story about animals. We had a few hard choices to make.

We first pulled off 2 genres to start with - Animal stories and Mystery, collected them all, made a space on the shelves, put a sign up to tell the students what this group of books were, and the students were super keen to borrow just from these two collections. This continued for a few days, so we figured it was a better way for the children to choose what they wanted to read. Some even said that it was much easier to find the type of book they wanted to read.

So onto the back end systems to help us keep everything organised. We recruited some parents who were willing to sit at a computer terminal for long periods of time to input the changes into the collection section adding one more line. Instead of just the collection (JF) and the Author suffix, we now have JF (Genre) Author Suffix.

The new spine labels were then printed, along with some small genre stickers. Student Library Assistants helped to replace the spine labels and afix the genre sticker. We then covered the two stickers with adhesive clear plastic to keep it all looking good.

We have managed to complete about half of the collection so far, the whole collection is a giant mess as we work through it.

One of the highlights was when students asked if we have bought a whole lot of new books! Hopefully we will have it all finished by the end of the term in three weeks, then we will monitor how the loaning goes to see if we need to go through the process in other collections.

Above is what our labels looked like before we changed them this week
(we now standardise the levels from the bottom - but are not changing them retrospectively)

Above are the new spine labels with the genre stickers - they seem to lift the books and make them look fresh.


Anonymous said...

What a great idea, Dianne! I always thought that I wouldn't feel comfortable with such an arrangement but I guess that was just me, thinking in terms of authors. My students rarely ask for a particular author but they always ask for genres. They would definitely love and prefer your idea. So, I guess the seed for changing our fiction arrangement is also planted in my head... Looking forward to read more about your experiences and the feedback you are getting. Tanja

Dianne said...

Thanks Tanja, it took me a long while to actual get around to do it just because the system needed to be sorted first so we didn't do something then have to do it over again. Will keep you posted, I know the older kids will like it set up like this too - baby steps, I also think it will make better use of shelf space.

Sharon said...

At our high school we have separated Crime Fiction, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Romance, Graphic Novels and Short Stories. This has worked quite well, particularly for those students who are looking for short stories or graphic novels. One Extension English teacher was really pleased that Crime Fiction was separate. I'm contemplating whether to take our Historical Fiction. My other dilemma is whether to have a separate Senior Fiction section.

Eileen Hurley said...

This is great, Dianne. Once the dust settles on our new contract, I think I'm going to make this change also. The library assistants are going to want to kill me though! I'll role out my "student needs come first speech". Eileen

Dianne said...

Hi Eileen, Yes,our assistants were not too keen to make the changes, but having parent helpers and students helping has certainly made the job easier and quicker than we expected.

Brigette said...

Ugghh Next we will be sorting books by size. I'm all for having the genre labels, but they should still be sorted by author. Give the students an opportunity to browse and pick up a book, they might not consider. It only allows for one genre, where many novel could be classed into different Genre. Finally if catalogued correctly the student should be able locate genre via a subject search.

Dianne said...

Thanks for your comment Brigette, I used to think that way as well, but the more I looked at how the students were choosing their reading, they would always ask for a spy book, or a funny book. For me, the library experience is all about the user - what is best for them. For our Junior readers, the authors are not important. I don't read according to author. I think through genres they are exposed to MORE authors, not less. If the records are correct they will be able to find a book through the OPAC through genre, author or titles - same thing - just allows for a better browsing experience.

Dee said...

Hi Dianne, We did this with our whole fiction collection about 4 years ago. It was a huge job but led to lots of weeding and discussions about books and where to put them. Generally we are very happy with the arrangement although I occasionally have English teachers say they can't find something! The books are arranged by author within the genre and we use the catalogue to differentiate the subject headings with the first given under the genre where the book will be found. We have recently added historical fiction to our list. It's fantastic when a teacher comes in & says I want the class to read a classic, or try a genre which they don't usually read. I think a lot more browsing goes on now.

Karen C said...

Fantastic idea and informative post. I'm thinking about doing this for our primary school (Year 4 - 6 boys). Anybody had any experience on whether this is particularly useful for this group?

Dianne, have you considered or do you know of anyone who has done a similar this with teacher reference? Sort it into key learning areas, rather than Dewey, for quick and easy access for teachers.

Ms. Yingling said...

I've read about a lot of people doing this, and your system seems to be an especially good one. I've been contemplating this as well, but the STUDENTS have not been very keen on the idea, so I haven't moved forward on it.

librarylady said...

Super idea. Sectioning the fiction books into genres would really make it easy for younger students to search for topics of interest. I understand how unorganized it makes everything when a major move like this is done. I had to take a high school library and make a middle school section within it, when two schools combined. It is a lot of computer work and relabeling, but it is worth it in the end. It was so fun to see how much the students enjoyed finding the books as if we had gotten tons of new titles in.

Anonymous said...

I’m at a K-5 school with 750 students. Last year we checked out over 50,000 books, so I would say we are a pretty busy school library. After reading your post several months ago I started paying special attention to how my students browse for books and realized it’s almost always by genre. I kept hearing questions like: “Where are the funny stories?”… “Where are your scary stories?”… “Where are the fairy books?”, and knew it would be helpful if our fiction collection was shelved like our students look for books! I shared my ideas with our district’s Elementary Education Director who loved the idea; she encouraged me to talk with my principal about it. He could immediately see how beneficial this would be for our students and gave me some extra hours once the school year ended, to work on the project. The first thing I started doing was weeding the collection, as I was weeding I’d think about the genres I wanted to include and came up with 13 genres to order labels for. I called a retired librarian friend and she was excited to come in and help, so on a student-free day in March we started at the beginning of our fiction section labeling each title. We didn’t get back to the project until school got out in June. We had one week to label each book and them move them into their new neighborhoods before the library opened for our Summer Reading Program. I’m happy to say we got it done! A former student is volunteering during the summer and scanned each title into its new sub location. Now I’m adding the genre after the call number to make it easy to find the books! I’ve had a great response from students and parents who have visited the library during the summer. I can already tell this was a good decision for our school’s library. Even though each class visits the library each week, kids are always running in for “just a minute” to return a book and get a new one. I think the fiction books being arranged by genre will really meet the needs of these students in addition to class visits that are all too short.

One question Dianne, will you consider genre shelving the fiction collection at your new school? Maybe your role will be so different that won't be an option, but I just wondered!


Dianne said...

Hi Linda,

The subject has come up in a planning meeting with the new team as an idea to explore. I am not 'in charge' there, so the final decision will be up to somewhere else, but i would definitely arrange the library by genres again, it does make a difference - even a teacher commented that he didn't like it at the beginning, but now loved it!

I am glad your decision and changes have led to positive outcomes - it is alot of work otherwise. Good luck!