This fall, CCS students are learning about how to find fiction books in a different way. We have genrefied the fiction collection! Basically, that is a fancy way of saying that we have organized the books into genre sections instead of shelving them only by author’s last name.
“Why bother”, you ask? Quite simply, because that is how our students want to find books. Why not make it happen for them? We followed an intentional process while undertaking this huge project. See if you can guess the learning strategies we modeled for our students along the way!
The first step of the process was recognizing the need to make a change for our students to increase their engagement with the collection, as well as their motivation to locate independent reading materials. Research came next. How would we make our collection more student-centered? We talked to experts in the field, learned from their experiences, and developed a system that would work best for our students.
Last spring, during National Library Month, we began the project by participating in the very awesome Matthew Winner’s Shelf Challenge. Think of our book collection like you think of our school garden. It is constantly growing and changing depending on the needs of our students. Taking out the weeds helps the good stuff grow and flourish. Weeding our shelves helps to keep our book collection fresh and balanced. During this process, we found books that had been missing in action for ages and series that needed updating. We noticed books that needed to be replaced due to wear and tear, and found some very interesting leftover bookmarks. We touched every single book, and became more personally aware of the contents of the collection than ever before!
Then, we took into account the reading habits of our students and determined which genre sections would be most useful. We estimated the number of books we had in each genre, measured the shelves, and created a diagram to help us visualize what the end product would look like.
Next, with the help of our amazing volunteers, and with books still on the shelves, we affixed genre labels to each book. “What if you couldn’t decide where to put it”, you ask? Well, we consulted our students, of course! They are the experts in the room in this case!
During the last two weeks of school, we began the process of shifting the books into their genre sections. We created signs that matched the labels and consulted our diagram during the move. We made adjustments to the plan as needed. This was the messy part! Piles of books covered just about all available table surfaces. This was when students really began to get excited about the project. Once books were in their appropriate genre sections, we scanned them into our online library catalog which very politely updated their new locations.
We were so excited (and a little nervous) at the start of school this year. We could not wait to help students explore our new genrefied fiction section. It has already proven to be a success. It has informed us about areas of the collection that we need to develop more for our readers. Students are browsing for books independently and finding things they enjoy reading more quickly and easily than ever before. Our circulation of fiction books is already up from what it was at this time last year! Most importantly, we have taken one more step towards creating a library space that students feel belongs to them.