A library is only useful if the materials and resources in it are easily accessible. As I spent time over spring break working in another school library for a class I was finishing this semester I was introduced firsthand to genrefication. I hadn’t given this a thought for my school library as our district has not embraced this trend yet, but I had talked with others who had successfully done it in their districts and loved it. The library I was in was genrefying their upper elementary and high school fiction section for several purposes: to increase circulation, to make it easier for students to locate specific genres needed for class projects and to help analyze and enhance the collection. It helped me start thinking about the pros and the cons of organizing a library in this way. I would like to share a few pros and cons with you.
Genrefication is no quick or easy process, but there are ways to simplify it and not make the task quite so daunting. Each librarian must draw up their own plan, locate the person power to help physically shift the materials and use ready made tools to help them ease the process. The first step is to run circulation statistics and begin weeding. Once the weeding process is finished you can examine your collection to identify which genre labels you want to use to genrefy your collection. There are quite a few different choices available. These are just a few to choose from: realistic fiction, chick lit, romance, historical fiction, science, fantasy, horror, manga, mystery, adventure, sports, and guy reads. After ordering and receiving your labels (Demco sells them.) you must decide when you want to take on the challenge of labeling and relocating the books. When labeling you may choose to create your own scheme for labels beyond the genre labels. “Identifying series titles was important because we had so many, and I, like most librarians, certainly couldn’t remember the correct order of all of them,” (Sweeney, 2013). You may choose to order series stickers or just buy colored dots and mark them with the numbered title in the series. Some librarians choose to work section by section and put up under construction signage so students and staff know to avoid that section. Others choose to do the shift over the summer so they can spread things out and really plan for the space they need for each reclassified section. When you are finished with the relabeling and reshelving it is time to work on signs so that your patrons can easily locate the genres. You could even create a video for classroom teachers to show to students before they come to visit the library for the first time after genrefying.
Genrefication works well for school libraries because it removes the frustration of learning to use the catalog and searching for related topics under different call numbers. It also frees up librarians to make book recommendations instead of having to guide students around the library. Students feel a sense of confidence about the library when it is welcoming and accessible. Genrefication works well with children because they are more likely to be browsers and to be obsessed with certain topics and benefit from those topics being placed together. However, if one of your library goals is to teach the catalog then you may have to rethink how to do this if you genrefy. Will you do the Dewey, or not?
Submitted by Deanna Hirschman
Rodgers, L. (2018). Give your circulation a lift. School Library Journal. July, 24-27.
Sweeney, S. (2013). Genrefy your library: improve readers’ advisory and data-driven decision making. Young Adult Library Services. Summer, 41-45.
Witteveen, A. (2019). Flipping for genrefication. School Library Journal. September, 40-44.
Krysta, (10/01/2019). Pros and cons of the push for shelving by genre in libraries. Pages Unbound Reviews, pagesunbound.wordpress.com
As we wrap up this unprecedented year, many of us are ready for some kind of change in our work lives – a reboot of some sort so we can start the new school year with a new outlook. An over-the-summer exercise in branding your school library program might be just the reboot you’re looking for.
What is Branding?
“Branding is relationship” (Sheninger and Rubin) – it’s a combination of the stories you tell and the connections you make daily – through marketing, graphic design, social media, and relationships with stakeholders. As a school librarian you are branding by default; you are branding yourself and your program with every interaction you have with your stakeholders. From book talks to book fairs to instructional services, you have so much to sell as part of your school’s library program. Why not make it intentional?
Build your Brand
Branding yourself and your school library program can be a big undertaking and it can be hard to know where to start. Maybe you’re ready to take a deep dive into rebranding your program from your own personal social media brand to a consistent visual identity for your library program through signage, website, and social media design. Or maybe you have just enough energy to do a visual identity re-branding. No matter the breadth of the reboot, follow these guidelines from The First Five Steps to Building a Library Brand, from The Librarian in the Middle, a school librarian who is passionate about branding:
Want to learn more about branding? Here’s a list of resources that will help:
Branding Your School Library (sign up at this posting for her 5-step guide) by the Librarian in the Middle. This school librarian is passionate about school library branding and advocacy. Don’t stop with this article, though. Look for others that she’s written about branding.
BrandED: Tell Your Story, Build Relationships, and Empower Learning, a book by Eric Sheninger and Trish Rubin. Written for educational leaders of all ranks.
Librarians: Build Your Brand by Gretchen Hazlin at BubbleUpClassroom.com pulls out some of the best ideas of the book above and gears them to school librarians specifically.
What’s in a Brand? How to Define Your Visual Identity by Annie Crawford at Adobe might be helpful if your focus is on creating a new visual identity.
ICYMI: Canva for Education is a must for all school librarians. Go here to sign up!
by Beth Eilers, School Librarian, Omaha Central High School
This blog is a joint effort by members of the NSLA Executive Board. We hope to provide relevant information, tips and tools to help you in your journey.