Monday, February 25, 2013

Genre-fying Your Collection?

Opinions abound on genre-fying a collection. According to Affiliate Assembly at AASL meeting in Seattle, AASL has received many questions on this issue. So, the genre-fying session at ALA was born: "Dewey vs. Genre Shelving in School Libraries Discussion Group".

Here is one of the questions that AASL has received: "Is this a viable way for shelving? If so, please set some standards."

Hilda Weisberg moderated the session. Attendees can listen to the audio version sent in an e-mail blast from ALA, but if you weren't there here are some of the panelists' opinions.

Panelist 1 went on to discuss her community not having a lot of "high professionals" so she likes to "keep things simple". She said kids move and go to a different school. Example: 796 is sports no matter where you go she said.

Panelist 2 used Ebsco to re-categorize her fiction books. Students did all of the work and they made new signage. She's keeping them in alphabetical order within the genres.

Panelist 3, "Chris" yelled the whole time and got the audience riled up! He is against genre-fying and said "Why not locate the army books out of vehicles and locate them elsewhere?!" He said why not develop a system to fit with subjects?

Panelist 4 from Arkansas said her area caters to retirees and why would we ever want to change a system that has worked for years? She argued that perhaps it is "not the system, but the teaching that needs to be changed" in regards to Dewey. She also argued that Dewey is universal.

Panelist 5 is a cataloging instructor and she is "not totally opposed to the bookstore model". However, she believes Dewey is "effective and useful", but she agrees that it is okay to genre-fy fiction area, not non-fiction. She advised using subject headings: "they allow you to have a little more detail".

Panelist 6 argued that the area of focus should be what students read. She highlighted the rise of e-books and the fact that students are sophisticated consumers. Tagging, sharing, and yelp are on the rise she said, and everyone has adapted. She used hash tags on Twitter as an example. Our systems are too antiquated for this though.

So, the work is cut out for anyone who decides to take on this task, but I also think it can be a lot of fun. It can allow you to really get to know your genres and get into great discussions with students about which fiction goes where.

Irondale Middle School shelves in the midst of genre-fying the fiction collection
As for me, I am a combination of Panelist 2 and Panelist 6. Which panelist do you agree with?


  1. Great post, Elizabeth! Although I appreciate the profession's effort at modeling book marketing after those of bookstores, I also believe that standards minimize confusion for patrons as they move throughout the feeder patterns and/or schools. We can genre-fy, so to speak, with shelf-topping displays. Thanks for presenting us with this trend!