Friday, November 16, 2012


This year I have been working to fill in the gaps in my series books, as well as acquiring ones that the kids were asking for. It is hard to keep track of all the series and to know which books are part one since it often isn't marked on the book. I decided to get the round colored dot stickers to keep track of series books. I put the dot on the top of the book spine and write the number it is or use a "P" if it is a prequel. For books that are part of a series, but aren't in any particular order I use blank dots. This has made series books really stand out on the shelves.

When cataloging a recent order, I discovered I was going to have to keep track of what color dots are used for each series. It is hard to finish cataloging when all the books in the series are checked out and I'm not sure which dot to put on the book. I could wait until one comes back, but it would be helpful to have a record. I decided to go old school and use index cards. Each card has the author and series titles down the left side, and genre and dot color under the series title on the right. The Juvenile Series and Sequels page from the Mid-Continent Public Library is very helpful for making these lists. I then highlight each title that I have and can easily flip through the cards to add missing titles to book orders. The cards can be used in the stacks to periodically check that each series book has a dot. As I check which titles I have in the catalog, I update the series information in the record. This process has worked well so far.

How do you keep track of series books?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Genrefying: Part IV: Evaluation

The genrefying project has been a success so far and there were some expected and many unexpected outcomes.

  • The classes are more spread out as they look for books. I figured this would happen as the books themselves were spread out. I also arranged similar genres close to each other and each class seems to split into the Realistic/Chick Lit, SciFi/Fantasy/Horror, and Adventure/Sports/Guy Reads sections pretty evenly.
  • Statistics now show up by genre on reports. I was surprised at the circulation statistics thus far. I knew my book club loved SciFi/Fantasy/Horror, but hadn't realized they were the most popular genres overall. I also know that I need more books in certain genres, such as YA mystery books.
  • I know the collection better. Over the last 6 months I handled every single book in the library. This was very helpful since it was my first year in this library and I was still learning the collection. It was much easier to develop a long-term collection development plan.
  • I have parts of many series. I decided to devote much of my fiction budget to filling in missing series books, acquiring new ones the kids were asking for, as well as replacing titles on the sophomore and senior literature analysis list, and getting new Middle Eastern and Asian titles for the freshman projects. It made acquisitions easy this year.
  • I'm surprised at the books that are circulating. Because the books are split into genres, students are finding books that they didn't before. I'm constantly surprised at the titles that students check out. I will be curious to run a master list at the end of the year and see how many books circulated for the first time this year. 
Overall, the project has been a success so far with students and teachers commenting on how much easier it is to find books. Students seem to be able to find books quicker and with less help than before. I'm glad I genrefied my collection :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Genrefying: Part III: Selecting Genres

A very important step in this genrefying project was to decide which categories to use. I opted to follow the method used by Kathryn Makatche. Relabeling every book didn't seem very practical, so I followed Kathryn's method of using colored label protectors to signify different genres. It could also be undone easily if the project didn't work, although I never would have taken on such a task if I wasn't sure it would be successful. It is also easy to change the location if I make a mistake or change my mind. I also used Kathryn's idea of pulling one genre at a time. It took me several lists to decide on the genres, but this is the list I came up with:

  • Realistic - takes place in the last 20 years, appeals to both guys and girls
  • Chick Lit - Contemporary realistic fiction that mainly appeals to girls (Nicholas Sparks, Jodi Picoult, Louise Rennison, Gossip Girl)
  • Romance
  • Historical Fiction - I had many more than I realized!
  • Science Fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Horror - vampires, werewolves, zombies, demons, supernatural, Jaws, Exorcist, Stephen King
  • Manga
  • Mystery/Suspense
  • Adventure - survival, quests, espionage
  • Sports
  • Guy Reads - opposite of Chick Lit, gangs, friends, gambling, humor, S.E. Hinton, Gordon Korman, Paul Volponi, Pete Hautman       

I debated a long time about the Chick Lit and Guy Reads sections, not wanting to turn off potential readers by the placement of a book. If a book could appeal to either gender, then it goes into the Realistic section. I decided to use stickers from Brodart and Demco to designate short stories, verse novels, graphic novels, Holocaust, Asian and war novels. All of these types of books are read in certain curricular areas or are popular with students. I decided that genre beat format for not pulling those books out into a separate section.

Since I did most of the project over the summer, I didn't have to worry about confusing my patrons as I made changes in the catalog and moved books around. I started by using my print shelf list and noting the obvious genres and started making changes. After that I did subject searches for "fantasy", "mystery", "science fiction", etc. Then I scrolled through the remaining records online and decided on genres for the titles I wasn't familiar with based on subject headings and summaries. Some books had incomplete records and I had to look those up elsewhere. I changed the records in the catalog to say "Historical FIC MEY" or "Chick Lit FIC PIC". After I changed the genre in the computer, I ran a new shelf list for that section, pulled the books, put the new colored label over the call number and set up the new section.

Obviously signs were going to be needed so that patrons could find the genre they were looking for. I used Tagxedo to make signs that had an image related to the genre, as well as keywords associated with it. Some were tough, but I managed to find an image that easily worked with each genre.

Now that everything was moved, labeled, and re-cataloged, the big question was would everyone like it?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Genrefying: Part II: Moving the Collection

After I had the fiction books weeded, I had to start rearranging the collection. As in ALL of it. My shelves are off to one side of the library with several rows in the middle and wrapping around along the wall to the outside. I decided that the fiction books, previously along one wall and some of the middle shelves, would now be on the outside. This would keep things a little more consistent and allow classes to spread out when selecting books rather than being jammed into two rows.

 Across the library there is an instructional area that housed the biographies and short story collection. I weeded both of those and integrated them into the main and fiction collections. I moved the Facts on File Yearbooks, encyclopedias, and professional books to this area. I also pulled out the career books, which are underused by the juniors when doing their career development projects, to create a special collection in this area. These changes freed up the space I needed in the main collection to move the rest of the books.

Between last spring and the end of the summer I moved every single book in the library. It took all of the carts I had and meant moving many books several times as I consolidated and shifted while separating the fiction into genres. I feel that the changes have consolidated the collection, removed confusing call numbers and increased the ease of usage by patrons. It wasn't easy, but the labor did help me sleep well on those nights!

Now that I had a plan for how I was going to arrange everything, the next step was splitting the fiction section into genres.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Genrefying: Part I: The Beginning

Part I: The Beginning

Last summer I decided to separate my fiction collection into genres. I like to think that I have a pretty good grasp on YA literature, but I was getting tired of drawing blanks when asked where the survival/adventure books were or for "books like (insert author or title)". I had my go-to authors and books, but felt that my students were getting shortchanged because I didn't know enough about the collection. It was also my first year in the library and I honestly didn't know the whole collection. I sought advice on listservs and got a lot of positive feedback. Some questioned why I would do this, but if our non-fiction is divided into genres, why not our fiction?

The first step was to weed. I pulled many titles that were classics and/or on reading lists. I wandered the fiction section with my shelf list printout and, according to circulation statistics, there were many books on reading lists or that were assigned for literature analysis papers that were no moving. It was easy to see why once I started handling the books. They were OLD, smelly, in some cases, falling apart. I couldn't blame the kids since I didn't want to handle them either. Yeah, yeah, the words didn't change, but obviously new copies were going to be needed if these titles were going to circulate again. I crossed out titles on my list to delete from the catalog and made notes of which titles to replace. Any title that I wasn't sure of I tried to view from a 15 year old's perspective. Would the book appeal to him/her? Most of the time the answer was no.

Now that the weeding was done, the next step was to start rearranging everything.