Wednesday, December 14, 2011

User-Friendly? - part 2

So, here are the nuts and bolts of how I rearranged my library to be genre based.  The entire process took just over a year and I'm loving the change.

Step 1
I determined the genres I would use and where each genre would be housed.  I decided to go with the following genres (I've also added the colors I decided to go with):
Historical Fiction
Chick Lit
Realistic Fiction
Sports Fiction
Easy Reader
Classics (no color)

Step 2
I purchased transparent colored labels and decided what color each genre was going to be.

Step 3
I weeded heavily and shifted my books around to create an area of space to begin

Step 4
I chose a genre and methodically went through my fiction section from AAA to ZZZ and picked out all the books that fit in that genre
I began with historical fiction because the open shelves from my weeding were right where I planned on housing my historical fiction section.  So, I'll use my historical fiction as my example for the rest of the post.

Step 5
My aide changed a few things in Destiny for each book.
*each title received a genre code in front of the current call number - ex)  HISTORICAL F XXX
*the sub-location of each book was changed to the appropriate genre
My aide then placed a transparent colored label over the existing spine label for each book and then shelved the books.

Step 6
I created a wordle for the genre by looking at titles and authors of the books that were housed in that section.  I had the wordle created into a poster.  I placed a few of the labels on the poster, to create a square of the color that was assigned to that genre.  Finally, I hung the posters above the beginning point of each genre section.  This is crucial for making it easy for your users to find the appropriate genre section.  

After pulling out all the books of one genre from the fiction section, I re-shifted the remaining fiction collection which opened up some more shelving.  So, I just repeated the process over and over until I had about 2 library carts full of those books that just don't seem to fall into one genre.  I slowly worked my way through that cart - asking students for their feedback, reading online summaries, and  looking at the recommended subject headings for that book.  Going through those two library carts was tedious, and sometimes I wished I could have created a separate category just for those difficult books ... but I found it better to just make an executive decision and house the book in a specific genre.

I created a google form and polled my students to get some feedback from them.  While of course, there were those who didn't like the change, the overwhelming majority loved it.

"I like that I can find the mystery ones (I like them the best) right away in their own section."

"I like fiction organized by genre because I know where to look for the specific kind of book I want."
 "Because I know where all the fiction book are which I prefer"

Sunday, November 20, 2011

User-Friendly? - Part 1

Tome ReaderI had been rolling an idea around in my head for several years ... reorganizing my fiction collection by genre.  Finally, last year, I decided to actually go for it.  It genuinely took an entire school year + a few months into the second school year.  Now that it is 99% finished, I have no regrets.  I am so glad the library has been reorganized.


1.  Bookstores
Bookstores don't organize themselves using the Dewey Decimal system.  They use the BISC - Book Industry Standards and Communication which was developed by the BISG - Book Industry Study Group.  According to their website:
  • BISG motivates and moderates debate about current book industry practices and about the future of digital publications on the international book trade
  • BISG develops, maintain and promotes standards and best practices that enable the book industry to conduct business more efficiently and cost-effectively. Our standards cover a wide range of business processes, including product identification and description, business communications, product and carton labeling and digital discovery and delivery.
  • BISG conducts and publishes primary research related to the size of the U.S. book industry and in areas of topical interest such as the environmental impact of the book industry and consumer attitudes toward digital publishing.
 2.  Help Me Find a Book!
I wonder if libraries ever performed any market research on using Dewey for classifying their entire collection?  Now, I cannot claim that I performed any sort of market research before I made the decision to change.  However, I was constantly asked by students to help them find a book - they didn't have a specific one in mind ... they wanted recommendations.  So, the first words that would come out of my mouth were, "Well, what are you in the mood for?  Mystery, fantasy, sports, romance ...?"  Once I knew the genre they were looking to read at the moment, I say, "Ok, let's walk the shelves and I'll pull out a few options for you."  Being the librarian, I was uniquely aware of my collection - what books/authors I had available and where they were on the shelves.  So, the student and I would walk through the shelves and I would begin pulling off a book here and there that I thought would interest them.  After providing them with a few options and telling them a little about each one, they would make their decision or ask me to show them more.

I realized my collection was only friendly to students looking up a specific book or author.  For the students that knew they wanted to read a scary story, but didn't know an exact title or author that they wanted, the collection's organization was not meeting their needs.  They needed me and my knowledge of where the scary stories were in my fiction collection in order to find a few options to sort through.  Sure, they could look up scary stories in the library catalog, but the number of results in a bit overwhelming and then looking through the entire fiction collection to pull a few out for themselves to decide was not something that middle school students felt like doing.  I wanted the library to be user-friendly and to promote reading ... I felt like my fiction collection, as it had been organized, was far from doing that.

Book Shelves photo used under Creative Commons license from 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Good, The Bad, The Challenges

final examThe start of a new school year always brings changes.  This year, the middle school where I work is dramatically changing its schedule.  The good news is that I no longer have to teach classes.  I will now have a completely flexible schedule.  The bad news is that the students no longer have any free time (study halls) to come to the library to select books, work on projects, read for pleasure.  Of course, every change brings new challenges, and I have two main challenges for this year.

My first challenge will be to build a stronger collaborative environment with my teachers.  Previously, I just did not have the time and flexibility in my schedule.  There were certain teachers and projects that I worked with, but overall, I was too tied down to with classes to reach out to more teachers.  So, I'm trying to be proactive before school starts.  I have created a packet of information to advertise what I have to offer at the library - description of offerings, example projects, and our research guide.  (see below)  I plan on starting small.  I want to focus on language arts and history, then I will broaden my scope to target science and specials as well.  I will be meeting with teachers individually and talk to them about how I can help them and what the library has to offer.

My second challenge will be to provide library opportunities for students without study halls.  I'm thinking about lunch passes of some sort, but that will needs to be worked out.

I would greatly appreciate any suggestions that you have.  How does the library scheduling work at your school?  When do students use the library? 


Desk photo used under Creative Commons license from dcJohn.

It's Been Too Long

Let's open the door to...Eternal Learning of the Open Mind is open again for bogging.  I took the past year off from writing any posts.  Sometimes you just need a break ... but it's good to be back.

I have decided, though, that this blog will look a bit different than it has in the past.  Before, the focus was primarily on using technology.  I am going to expand it to include all my work as a librarian ... what I do to promote reading, how I help teachers with research, how our projects integrate technology.  I'll still highlight new technologies that I love, but those posts will be part of a larger variety of posts.

Open sign used under Creative Commons license from Tanakawho.