Genre Shelving In Progress

RF_genre_shelving_2I explained my plan for genre shelving in the fiction section that I crafted with a few friends in November, refined and geared-up for in December, and started the first days of January.

Sorting the books went about as I anticipated. I pulled one shelf off at a time and replaced them with the next books for the genre I was adding. As I went along, the amount of books I had off the shelf at any one time was manageable. It was really helpful to have most of the books color coded before I started shifting them. I could quickly go through and pull all the orange historical fiction, then the humor, then the sports, etc. Everything was kept in alphabetical order within each section and I didn’t have to spend extra time.

One thing I did not expect with this reorganization is that I would actually gain space. Because the sections are self-contained, I didn’t have to break to a new shelf to change alphabet letters as frequently the way I do with my entire collection. The shelves are fuller in many places, but all the books are right there for the students, easy to find. I’m not anticipating that the full shelves in a few places will make them less accessible considering their similar content.

I requested that teachers ask their students to complete a survey about how the books are currently organized and how quickly it takes them to locate the books they need.

Preliminary data indicates that there is definitely room for improvement in the students efficiency at accessing library materials and their perception of its difficulty level.

Preliminary data of difficulty finding books. |

What is the level of difficulty you experience when looking for books in the library? (5: It’s Easy! 1: It’s Hard.)

Do you know where to find your favorite fiction books? |

Do you know where to find your favorite fiction books without asking for help?

Preliminary data of speed for finding fiction books |

When you are looking for a fiction book, how quickly can you find it in our library without asking an adult?

I wanted to label the shelves in a bold way to make it obvious that we have changed something. I don’t see all of my students each week and  didn’t see a way to formally introduce the change. Even if I planned announcements the students  would still need visual reminders. At this point even *I* need visual reminders! I decided to start with these signs:

We’ll see how long they last. They’re easily replaceable and you can tell I didn’t do them in any kind of neat fashion. A few minutes of folding and Mr. Sketch markers and they were finished.

I did run across this picture at Pinterest of Jennifer Fountain’s genre-fying signs and I love the way her signs are made. I’m going to shamelessly steal the craftiness of them and add them to our shelves. The are perfect for what I have in mind for some long-term labeling.

My kids seem super excited about the change so far. I’ve noticed more students reading historical fiction lately. I’m not sure if that’s because of coincidence with a few students in a particular class or if it was more noticeable with our genre signs. I’m going to be sure to ask them the next time I see the few I’ve noticed reading Little House (which never gets noticed!).


  1. Hi Carolyn. Love your blog. I have read a lot about genre shelving but have a question. How is this reflected in your OPAC?

    • Robin,

      I changed all of the call numbers to reflect the change. I scanned each section into a text file and then ran a batch update in Destiny. I made the call numbers: Fiction_Sports, Fiction_Fantasy, Science_Fiction, etc. I kept it as one word because it’s easier to update call number prefixes than to change a call number with more than one segment of text. It took me about 2 hours to scan the books and 5 minutes to update the call numbers.

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