Ramblings: Genrefying the Teacher Reference Collection

Genrefying The Teacher Reference Collection

What is your teacher reference collection like? Dusty and unused? Tiny and unhelpful? Large and overwhelming?

When I inherited my current school library, the junior school’s collection was in the Junior Library but the secondary school teacher reference collection was not located in the library. The junior collection was large, with class sets, literature circles and teaching resources. The secondary TR collection had been housed in a staff area under the guidance of those responsible for guiding the pedagogy of the school. A move that made sense. The collection was certainly not as large as at some of my previous schools, but that was because junior and secondary was separated and the textbook TR was housed with the textbooks. The Secondary collection was books only, no resources. The majority of items are stored within departments in different storerooms, squirrelled away and a disaster zone all of their own. In this post, I am talking about the genrefication process of the secondary school teacher reference collection.

Getting started

Let’s face it, while updating this collection was on my to-do list, it was way, way, way down. The only reason I undertook this task this early after our move was the shelves it had been placed on were being changed. Instead of moving the books twice and then having to come back and weed and genrefy again, I decided to do a very quick update while moving the books.

The collection had been culled pretty heavily by my predecessor, so it wasn’t overly large. But it still had plenty of old gems that needed to be removed based on condition, being out of date or no longer relevant.


The collection was all piled on a table in the middle of the room. To begin putting them back on shelves, I grabbed some post-it notes and together with the assistant of the pedagogy team, we started to throw books on the shelves based on these post-it note categories, as well as a “throw out” pile. We added categories as we came across books that didn’t fit. We had Creativity, Leadership, Differentiation, Assessment, English, Wellbeing, Other Subjects (because most of the subject specific titles are in department areas, there was only a small amount, so no need to divide further), the Future of Education, and Teaching Strategies.

Once all the books were on the shelves, we shuffled the collections around to suit the shelves we had and collection sizes. I left the post-it notes in place for a few days and then cut new signage with the Cricut machine. I had spare shelf signs from our fiction collection. We made sure we had lots of forward facing titles, added a plant and we were done.


I have decided not to update the catalogue records. For now, they all sit in Teacher Reference with a dewey decimal number. So far, the response from teachers using the room is that it’s been a lot easier to find things, even when not looking them up on the catalogue. I am focusing on browse-ability. If I do need to change the catalogue, it’s a simple matter of making new collections TR – Creativity, TR – Leadership, TR – Wellbeing, and scanning the bookings into this collection. For now, with the size of the collection, it’s not needed. I can also add collection spine labels if needed. Most of them match the collections we have in the secondary school non-fiction collection – wellbeing, leadership, creativity – so we can use those spine labels if needed.

Next year, when I have some funds available, I’ll work to add some new content to this collection. For now, at least what we have has a much better chance of being found.

The Junior Collection has also had an overhaul thanks to the tireless work of the Junior Library Technician. She has culled old titles, put resources into easier to access boxes, replacing the old bags, and is working to fit the collection into a tight storage space.

What’s the state of your teacher reference collection?


  1. SW

    Great post – thanks Madison. Cleaning out our TR section is on my end of year ToDo List! We did a big cull a few years ago and we decided to colour-code each genre. We have 10 genres. So for example, Teaching & Pedagogy has a purple sticker on the spine above the Call Number. Visually it is appealing on the shelf and makes it quick and easy to pull out/put away too. I started using coloured dots but now I just print out label sheets with filled-in colour at the start of the year and peel off the stickers as I catalogue.

    • madisonslibrary

      Thank you so much. Great idea. I haven’t yet adjusted spine labels, I think using the coloured sheets is a great idea. Makes it easy and affordable.

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