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Why I Decided to Genre-fy My Fiction Collection

Over three years ago I was introduced to the idea of genre-fying a library collection through the listserv and again from conversing with a colleague at a midwinter conference. The idea wasn’t completely far-fetched. I had already placed genre labels on some books based on teacher assignments. And for a while, this seemed to be enough. Students browse the shelves and still quickly identify books. The idea of genre-fying reached a tipping point when students (and teachers) began to ask for books based on genre and looking it up in the catalog weren’t enough. The switch was not taken lightly. Many thoughts came to mind…

  • Would students like it?
  • Would I be doing my job of teaching students how to access a library collection? 
  • How do I reflect the changes in my catalog?
  • What genres should I use?
  • What do I do for books that cross genre lines?
  • What if I (or someone else) would need to reverse this?

How much work would this be?

After discussing this with a colleague, I began to devise my plan in the spring of 2014 and informally surveyed my students and teachers for their opinions. The best advice serendipitously came from the listserv.

The 2014-15 was the school year that I took the plunge by labeling books, changing the book records and having student helpers design new genre labels for the shelves. None of this would have been possible without the extensive help from my student library helpers. Finally at the end of the 2014-15 school year, I arranged the books on the shelves by genre so that it would be ready for the new year. 

Was genre-fying my fiction collection worth the trouble? 
The short answer…YES! The students love it. The most frequent comment is that it is much easier to browse the shelves and find what they want. Not only did my circulation statistics improve by 26% as compared to the same period last year, but I also had 38% increase in holds placed. Shelving is a little more challenging, but in my opinion, the results were worth it.

Interested in genre-fying your library? You may want to consider attending the OELMA-sponsored “Genre-fy Your Library” workshop on March 8th. Registration information: