I have been watching a heated debate over the past few days on a major worldwide library listserv of which I am a member. It’s the age-old debate of whether or not genre-fying your library is a good idea. Quite honestly, I am tired of the the bickering. Come on, library world! We are adults! LET IT GO!!! (insert huge eye roll here and throw back the head in disgust)
Okay, now that I have sufficiently yelled out my frustration, I’ll get to the point. In simple language…do what is right for your patrons and your library. Seriously, it’s as easy as that. Melvil Dewey was not a perfect person. Hence, his system is also not a perfect system. If it was, all fiction would remain in the 800 section. While there may be some library out there that does this, I know of not a single library in my area (both public and school) that puts their fiction section in the 800s.
While my nonfiction section still proudly boasts Dewey’s numbers, I chose to genrefy my fiction section for numerous reasons. I think I posted this in an earlier blog, but I’ll do it again for my own sanity.
1. My junior high English staff was doing a type of genre study through Reading Discovery classes. Countless times, students would come up to me asking questions such as, “Where are your science fiction books?” I would throw wide my arms and say, “They are everywhere. Go look in Destiny (OPAC) and start searching.” We had a line of kids trying to get to a computer to search in Destiny (they had been trained) while others wandered aimlessly or created mayhem as myself and my aide would be running all over the library trying to help. While I appreciate job security, I needed the students to be more self-sufficient.
2. Our local public library had been separating some popular genres for years such as Westerns and Christian Fiction based on patron needs.
3. Space was an issue in my library. I have two distinct areas where nothing really fit well.
4. I needed a way to boost my circulation for two reasons.
-I needed a better way to market my library to justify its existence. I don’t want to run a mediocre library.
-I needed a better way to market myself to justify my educational existence via my evaluation. Change can stimulate creativity.
It’s been about 3 years since I’ve genre-fied my fiction section. The first year my circulation stats went up 16% and continues to go up each year, even though our student population stays relatively the same. We rarely get asked how to find a book. The students know how to use my OPAC for both fiction and nonfiction. They are happy, I am happy, we are allllll happy. Isn’t that what Melvil Dewey would have wanted in the end?
So, if you choose to genre-fy…GREAT! If you choose not to genre-fy…GREAT! But both sides need to just LET IT GO and do our jobs to the best of our abilities. Let the Genre Dragon get some well-deserved rest. (By the way…books about dragons are in my Fantasy section.)
Onward and Upward
Currently reading: Yes, It’s Hot in Here: Adventures in the Weird, Woolly World of Sports Mascots by AJ Mass.