Talk at home about…our #shelfchallenge #genrefication mashup!

Shelf Challenge!

Last month, I completed Matthew Winner’s Shelf Challenge. This was my second year participating in what I consider to be one of the best collection development resources I have in my special librarian’s toolkit. Librarians who participate in the challenge choose a section of their collection to read over a period of 30 days. During that time, we get to know that section of our collection in a very up-close-and-personal way. We find amazing things simply by making the time to read and explore! Go figure! In our busy libraries, this time is often found after school hours, but the time investment is completely worth it. We find resources for our students and classroom teacher colleagues. In addition, we share our good finds with the great wide world by harnessing the power of social media tools like Twitter and Pinterest. It’a a good thing. To read more about the challenge from Mr. Winner, and to see a nifty map showing where in the world participants were located, click here!


Yes, that’s really a word, and a big one in libraries these days. I took the opportunity provided by the Shelf Challenge to also start genrefying our fiction collection. This basically means that we will now be shelving books according to their genres, instead of just by the author’s last name.

This is something that I’ve been thinking about for quite a while now. It is how my students want to find books.

“Mrs. H., where are the mystery stories?”
“Mrs. H., where are the scary stories?”
“Mrs. H., where are the sports stories?”

I made my decision after attending a workshop on the process at the AASL National Conference in November. Tiffany Whitehead, Shannon Miller, Sherry Gick, Kathy Burnette and Megan Scott presented the different approaches they took to making each of their libraries more user-friendly. They also shared concrete data showing how successful the change was for their students. If I had any lingering doubts, a conversation later that evening with Tiffany Whitehead sealed the deal for me. She said “It’s not my library. It belongs to my students, and that is why it is important.” That statement had an immediate impact on me, and now that I’ve had a bit of time to plan, I’m all in.

So far, we (myself, Mrs. Aube, and a crew of awesome volunteers) have weeded the entire fiction section, removing the old, torn, disheveled books to make room for new, relevant,  shiny ones. This also provided space to let other books shine that haven’t been really seen in a while!

We have finally created a true Young Adult space for our middle schoolers; a space that belongs to them, and that provides easy browsing access. We have also removed our outdated system of separating paperback books from hardcovers. Thank goodness. That has helped us consolidate a section of beginning chapter books for our younger readers.

We are now in the thick of labeling and moving the rest of the fiction collection about into sections. Already the students are excited about the change. They have the amazing ability to look beyond all the messy piles and general chaos and see the silver lining of something great. I can’t wait to finish! Check out the pictures below to see some of our work in progress, and stay tuned for updates!

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Filed under Books, Collaboration, Learning, ProfessionalDevelopment, reading, ShelfChallenge

One response to “Talk at home about…our #shelfchallenge #genrefication mashup!

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