Back in my day, we used Dewey…

As I enter deeper in the blogosphere (am I even using that term correctly?!), I found myself drawn to a number of blogs written by – yep, you guessed it – librarians.

As a second year librarian, I definitely appreciate the help and the voice that I get from blogs like the three below. I wouldn’t necessarily share librarian blogs to the rest of my staff only because, well, do they even know what the DDC is bro? On the other hand, I would share my blog with staff to demonstrate how I blog. Through demonstrating this staff, even other librarians, can create their own to model or use mine to further demonstrate for students. If teachers can buy into the idea of student blogs, students will be able to write, create, and connect in a way that truly will prepare them for the future. They will be able to adapt to various modes of communication. And what better way to demonstrate how I blog than actually write a post…

Now that I’m more familiar with my collection, I’ve recently begun weeding my library. I have found books that haven’t been checked out in more than 10 years, and even then it was only checked out once. Once! I noticed multiple copies of once but no longer popular series like Twilight. I immediately could see that the collection looks great but it isn’t so great after all. There is so much clogged in the bookshelves. Finding good books would be like a needle in a haystack. Then I thought, “Why would they find good books? I mean, instead of looking it up in the catalog and locating exactly where it should be.” It hit me right then – students don’t often have a favorite author, some might have a favorite series, most just browse. They find what looks good. Sometimes they ask where the horror, comedy, realistic “areas” are. But my library doesn’t have genre sections; they’re in alphabetical order. Like they’re supposed to be. Because Dewey said so. Because I had to learn Dewey when I was a kid. Because… I don’t know maybe we should try something different.

After reading the following three blogs, I decided I’d keep the collection organized by author but I will also color code the books (after weeding… for a different blog, not now). Students could continue to use the catalog and they can also browse by genre. After reading my thoughts on these blogs, I encourage you to check them out yourself and tell me your thoughts in the comments below.

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Blog: Mean Old Library Teacher

Posts like Genre-fying My School Library are written to walk you through her process rather than simply tell you how awesome the process is. Part One basically provides the background for why she wanted to genre-fy her library and the personal struggles she faced – she loves things to be organized, the way they’ve always been organized. Honestly you could skip this can go right to Part Two if you want but it is pretty funny and, I bet, relatable. Part Two provides the step-by-step process. It turns out that this Mean Old Library Teacher has a few tricks up her sleeves to lighten the load of such a huge undertaking. First, she used report builder to categorize her collection by genre keywords. She uses child labor… er, student helpers… to pull only the books of a specified genre. They label and tape them. Any books that are left on the shelves will be looked over, discussed, and categorized by the genre the students decide, not the librarian. Yes, it seems obvious but – Mind. Blown. I would have spent hours (days?) going down each shelf, opening each book, to see what the Library of Congress had decided. Don’t judge!

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Blog: Mighty Little Librarian

The Mighty Little Librarian doesn’t just post about her library and books. She has talked about the flood‘s affects on Baton Rouge, experiences moving and also changing schools, she talks about life AND her library. Ok maybe she talks about her library a little bit more than her life, still though. For obvious reasons, her post Ditching Dewey caught my attention almost immediately. I say almost because apparerntly this is a hot topic for the Mighty Little Librarian. I read one post on genre-fying and was led to another and another until, yep, Ditching Dewey. It’s kind of her thing. In this post she has a-mazing and colorful genre signs, just beautiful. This post is short but…c’mon aren’t those signs awesome?! All of the Mighty Little Librarian‘s posts on genres, labeling, shelving, and yes ditching Dewey altogether are amazingly detailed and short. For the most part they are never too wordy and get right to the point. There are a number of gems to be found here before I go about genre-fying my own collection and finally ditch Dewey.

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Blog: Mrs. ReaderPants

In the Library Genre-fication Project (straightforward), I feel like I’m reading a very similar voice to my own. It’s funny how that works and will definitely be much more relatable, to me that is. First off, she boasts that the circulation in her library doubled within the first year of being fully genre-fied. That is ridiculously amazing! She goes through a step by step process (including materials, prices, and links to purchase materials) with pictures along the way. As detailed as this is, it is also the most succinct and intuitive to follow post yet… that may be her voice again. While I will be taking away tips and gems from the blogs above, I believe I will be following the plans from this post and others from Mrs. ReaderPants. Finally, since I’ve recently been receiving some flack from other librarians about my interest in genre-fication, Mrs. ReaderPants provides the following benefits which will definitely help me, and hopefully help you, defend our position on why genre-fying will make a ginormous (yes, ginormous) impact on circulation and books actually read.

  • Students can find the books they want more easily. Our number of items circulated has nearly doubled over the same three-week period last year.
  • Books are organized the way students look for them. This is also consistent with many book stores.
  • We can instantly identify holes in our collection. After only three weeks of our project completion, I have already ordered more books for the horror section. It’s been ravaged. Paranormal, Sports, Humor, and Chick Lit/Romance also need some attention. Fantasy, realistic fiction, mystery, and historical fiction sections do seem pretty sufficient for our readers, so they are not the priority at this time.
  • I am a fan of anything that makes shelving easier, and this project definitely does that for the Fiction and 741.5 (graphic novels) sections. We can also identify a book in the wrong section immediately. My six-year old sometimes walks around after school and pulls out the ones in the wrong section. Easy-peasy!
  • I now have no doubt that my students can easily define “genre,” a state-tested term for middle school language arts. I would bet money that most–if not all–of our students can also name several genres without even breaking a sweat.
  • Now when a student asks me “Where are all your scary books?” I can smile sweetly and say they’re right here. Next question!
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2 thoughts on “Back in my day, we used Dewey…

  1. Your voice really comes through in your blog post! Focusing on posts about one topic in your review was very interesting.

    I have also been intrigued by genrefication and I have thought about the usefulness and am a little torn. Our local public libraries use Dewey, and I believe part of our role as school librarians is to teach students to use other libraries in the area. Your color coding idea seems like a good blend of the two.

    Like

  2. Zachary,
    It is Zachary, right? I am intrigued about ditching the Dewey Decimal system. I wonder what some of the instructors we have would think about that!

    I thought you shared some great resources. One small change I would make is that it can be hard on the eye to read light lettering on a dark background. It’s okay in short spurts but for multiple paragraphs it can get tiring. Just a thought! =)

    Like

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