Tag Archives: fiction

The Genre Dragon Rears Its Ugly Head…Again

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.


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Why I do….

After having several people approach me about why I do what I do, I decided it’s time to start a blog. Why not start with a highly controversial topic in the world of librarians? To genre-fy or not to genre-fy my Junior/Senior High Public School Library?! Oooo, I can’t wait for comments on this. Drum-roll, please…..Yes, I divided my fiction section into genres last summer. Okay, Melvil Dewey probably just rolled over in his grave. Wait, on second thought, I think he would agree with doing this. After all, how is non-fiction classified? Of course, it’s classified by subject matter. Isn’t that what I did with my fiction section? I bet Melvil would be giving me a fist-bump with this one.

I’ll take a couple of posts to describe my methods. But first, I’ll explain my rationale. These are my reasons in no particular order…

1. My patrons were always asking things like, “Where can I find your science fiction books?” or “I want that one book about ghosts but I can’t remember the title or author. Oh, and it has a kid on the front cover”. (I know some of you are giving a knowing chuckle on that one!)

2. I finally found hard proof when another librarian posted the increase in her circulation statistics after switching to genres. Now that my school (and state) are going to yearly evaluations, I need to somehow show some type of growth. I can use these circ stats.

3. I had a gut feeling that something needed to change in my library. I have a personal mantra of “Fear Mediocrity”. I don’t want a mediocre library. My library is an extension of me just as my classroom was when I was a teacher. So does that mean I’m always cutting edge. Unfortunately, when you get a cut…you bleed. I like to take risks, but I want to really think it through. If I bleed, I don’t want to just slap a band-aid on it and hope it doesn’t scar. If I’m going to make this big of a change, I needed a good reason to do it. (See #2)

4. Another saying I like is “Change is necessary for creativity.” I don’t know where I got this. A good librarian would credit her source, but I honestly don’t remember where it came from. I’d like to think I made it up. I have it on a piece of paper in my lunch box so I can see it every day, and it’s been in there for a few years. A change was needed in my library to stimulate my creativity and hopefully the creativity of my patrons.

That’s enough for one day. Call me crazy…I don’t really care. I did what I thought was best for my patrons and myself. And I’m not planning on turning back anytime soon! Stay tuned to see how I transformed my fiction section…….

Currently reading:  Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

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