Genre Shelving Conclusion

I’m participating in the 20-day Blogging Challenge from Jennifer Brower over at Where Books and Technology Meet. She posted 20 days of blogging challenges for librarians back in January. I’m modifying and responding to one prompt each week. Well, except for the three-month blogging hiatus I took!

Challenge: There are a lot of new trends (and some recycled trends) in the library world. Share one you have tried or are considering trying.

I’ve shared the steps I took to add genre classification to the Fiction section of my elementary library. I began with a fairly decent plan and understanding of the work involved. I solicited student feedback about their current ability to access the fiction section of the library. I asked them if they could find what they wanted easily, how long it took them to find what they needed, and what their perceived level of difficulty is in finding what they need. Then I rearranged the books and changed all of the call numbers.

We color-coded the books in the simplest of ways: using post its and book marks. Once we got into the trial, shelving books wasn’t too difficult. Most of the books students were checking out were clearly from one genre. Rarely did the ambiguous books get checked out.

After 13 snow days, 6 2-hour delay days, Book Fair, and Spring Break had passed, five months had gone by! It was time to evaluate the trial and see what the data showed.


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 without asking for help?


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


Are you able to find the books easier in the fiction section with the new genre arrangement?


Fiction Circulation


Days the Library was Open for Students

I think it’s very clear that the data isn’t clear. None of the harder evidence weighs in favor either direction. However, students perception that genre shelving is better is quite strong. Is perception enough to move forward with permanent genre shelving?

I do think that if this winter/spring had been a bit more normal in terms of school days, that I would have seen an upswing in circulation. Even though I took snow days into consideration, I counted 2-hour delay days. The days in between that weren’t snow days or 2-hour delay days in the early months were certainly not ‘normal’ as teachers tried to get back into their routines. The one bit of intriguing data I found is that the circulation of Humor doubled from last year to this year. It was also always the smallest section of books on the shelf. Students circulate these books so much that they are often challenging to find mixed with the other fiction books. In the genre shelving trial, students knew just where to go for these books and didn’t need to search for the lone copy of Wimpy Kid that might be on the shelf.

One final bit of data… a friend of mine did this trial as well. In her library circulation in the fiction section was up about 25% each month! Her teachers love it so much they want her to organize the picture books in a similar way.

At this point, I have left my fiction section alone. My perception is that it is better, or library assistant finds it easier to do readers’ advisory, and the students perception is that it is better. i don’t like things in limbo. I took a chance the last week of school and accepted a position closer to home and in the same district. Thankfully, I have wonderful friends. If the new librarian loves it, then I will offer to assist with labeling the section permanently. If the new librarian is not a fan, then I have some friends who have offered to help me revert it back to its former state.

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