Our fiction section was organized by author's last name. It was super easy to find the exact book you were looking for, but didn't lend itself well to browsing the shelves. When I started noticing students aimlessly browsing I asked myself: could I make the library more accessible for them? Could I make our shelves more appealing?
I started doing research about libraries that had organized their shelves by genres. I was getting really excited thinking this might be the way to go with our school!
Another HUGE deciding factor was our school's independent reading assignment. Students in the fifth grade must fill out any two squares in their "cube" (each square has a different genre assigned to it) by passing the on-level AR test for a book in that genre. For sixth grade they have to get three squares in a row to get a "tic tac toe". This means that students are always coming to the library and asking for the mystery books or the fantasy books and so on. I've also found boys come to me a lot and ask if I have sports fiction books. They have also asked for funny books, scary books, and books that are in a series. Although those last three aren't usually apart of the genres that rotate through the cubes and tic tac toe assignments, I thought they should be added to our library genres.
After discussing rearranging our library by genres instead of by authors with our principal, literacy coach, and a literacy teacher, I went for it!
I started by deciding which genres I would include. I listed all the ones on our independent reading assignments for both grades and added the few that I mentioned above. My final list looked like this:
- Realistic Fiction
- Historical Fiction
- Science Fiction
- Horror/ Scary
- Graphic Novels
I played around a while with the idea of series. I didn't know if it would be best to keep them all together or split them into their genres. I couldn't really make up my mind until a student walked in that same day and asked what new series he should start. My mind was then made up: we decided to go for it!
A big concern I had, and a reason I haven't done this sooner, was the idea that a book can and usually does fall under several genres instead of just one. After reading other blogs and doing my own research, I came to a good conclusion: just pick one. Sure, a book can be several genres. I just had to pick one and go with it! I've told our students that if they read a book and disagree with its genre, they can point it out to me and we can discuss it! It isn't hard to change a book's assigned genre.
Next I needed signage! I had read in several places that Demco had the best genre stickers, so I shopped there first! I found exactly what I was looking for: we ended up using the stickers below! Buy your own by clicking HERE. I was on a TIGHT budget and couldn't afford the "All in One" version of the sticker which has the tape over the top, so it cuts your stickering time in half. I will say it took more time when I bought just the regular stickers, but saved me SO MUCH MONEY! You just have to decide what is best for and your library!
I started by pulling all the fiction books off the shelves. I had already gone through and put colored stickers on the spine of books a few years ago, so I had some idea of what genre each book was. I found some books that were mislabeled and some that didn't have any labels. I also added a few genres, so I was careful to pay attention to if a book could be moved. I used descriptions, book blurbs, AR book find, and cover art to help me decide what genre each book should be. This took ALL DAY! I started just putting genres on designated tables. Then, when I had cleared a section, I would move them over to the shelf that best fit the amount of books in that section. I decided to also levelize books since we are pushing STAR Reading so hard this year. We have to report each student's reading level and make sure they are reading on their level for each book, so I thought this would help. Once they are all in the right section, with the right level, I then alphabetized with author’s last name.
Once books were in place, I then created signs to go on top of the shelf that matched their genre sticker along with a little description of each genre. I used Canva, which you know I LOVE!
Lastly I stickered each book. This step took the longest, but it looks so good now that it's finished!
I am so proud of how everything turned out! Below is a little sneak peak of the Adventure section when I was halfway through! Check out the YouTube video at the end of the post to see the finished results!
I think the kids are really enjoying the change! Although it takes just a few seconds longer to find the exact book you’re looking for, it is 10 times faster to shelve books and I think it really helps students browse better!
I am so happy we decided to do this: I wouldn't trade all those hours reorganizing for anything!