I’ve been keeping this series of posts under my hat for a long time! I wanted to be sure that both my articles about genrefication were published first (see here and here for the links! Note you need a School Library Connection account – or a 30 day free trial – to access them.)
I get many questions from librarians interested in starting the genrefication process so I wanted to create a series of posts to give much more information as to the background, rationale, and approach I took when genrefying my fiction collection. Growing up, I remember playing the game “Two Truths & A Lie” with my friends, and we each gave three statements – two were real, while the others had to guess which one was the lie. Similarly (kind of), this series entails two truths & a lie about genrefying – more like a common myth than a lie. All three of these are honest and based upon not only what I’ve read and published, but my experiences through (and after) the process.
PS: I only genrefied my fiction collection. While my beliefs are solid that this is best for my students and a modern library, my beliefs are not as solid when it comes to reorganizing nonfiction. So read this with the knowledge that I am referring solely to my fiction collection.
I decided I wanted to genrefy my middle school’s library in October 2014, a whole 6 weeks into my first library gig. Like a newbie, I couldn’t help students very well in the stacks, and I quickly discovered my students were BIG TIME readers. I struggled with recommending books to them because I wasn’t familiar yet with the 8,000+ fiction titles on the shelves and everything was intermixed. I knew a few authors, but that was it. And our collection needed a MASSIVE weeding, too. Fresh in a new job, with students asking excitedly what I recommended or did we have more books like _____, my confidence wasn’t exactly great (because I couldn’t answer their questions!). I did my masters research on genrefication at the same time as I was starting my librarian career, and the concept intrigued me. It would help students? It would help me as a librarian? More books would be discovered and checked out? Sign. Me. Up.
There was just one problem: I just had to figure out how to convince my co-librarian that it was a good idea. Armed with research, talking points from articles & blogs I read (Especially Tiffany Whitehead’s series on genrefying – the first post is here), I pitched the idea to him in December. I was shocked when he said it sounded like a great idea and go for it. So I did!
While genrefication was a “hot topic” at ALA in 2012/2013, it still remains a hot topic now in 2017. Librarians are innovators, and this is a time in our profession when we need to do everything we can to get our users in – and prove that we are still relevant in today’s digital and makerspace focused library. Both of these are incredibly important, but at my core, I want to encourage my students to read – and love to read. I want to make it easy for students to locate books that sound interesting to them. My students were reading, but not to the level that I thought they could be. They were missing great titles, feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices, and I didn’t feel like I was helping them as their librarian as well as I should have been. So I took the plunge and decided to genrefy – for them and for me.
This genrefying series will feature a new post each day for the next 3 days. Stay tuned!