Genrefication Myths and Questions Answered
I was reading a recently published book about school librarianship and was surprised to discover a few throwaway comments about genrefication. It was represented negatively and raised the usual comments you might see on Facebook posts or in email lists, arguing against genrefication. I’ve decided to call out some of these comments and write my responses and thoughts to each of them. I’ve worked in many school libraries that have both genrefied collections and collections in traditional layouts. I am unashamedly for genrefication, but I have also been in schools were we chose not to genrefy some collections. It just wasn’t for the reasons below, and here’s why.
Non Fiction Genrefication
If you have followed by blog at all or worked with me, you’ll know I have a great interest in genrefication. I started my journey with genrefication in 2017 and since then I have experimented with genrefying fiction collections and monitoring what made it work and what didn’t work so well. You can read my initial genrefication process of a young adult collection, a one year follow up here, and a review of genrefication. While I had been tweaking non fiction collections over the past few years, it wasn’t until 2020 that I got to fully genrefy my first non fiction collection.
Here is the process our library team undertook to complete this genrefication of our non fiction collection and our initial results.
Reflection on Genrefication
Have you genrefied your library? Searching blogs, email list server discussions, and library journals, it seems most school libraries have given genrefication a go, or at least thought about it. I first tried my hand at genrefication back in 2017, when we genrefied the Young Adult section of our P-12 Library. You can read about my process genrefying the fiction collection in this post, as well as a one year follow up here. I have also written posts about genrefication for the National Education Summit blog here. I will be speaking about my experiments with genrefication in my presentation at the 2021 National Education Summit in Brisbane – find more information or buy a ticket to join us here.
But is genrefication still relevant? Is it still a buzz word? Does it deserve to be? How many libraries have genrefied and moved on? How many have decided it isn’t for them? I have worked at five school libraries over the past six years. Of those, four had genrefied their fiction section (or we genrefied while I was there), and none of them had a genrefied non-fiction collection. Since then, two of those libraries have now or are about to genrefy their non-fiction collection. I have also recently attended a genrefication workshop with Kevin Hennah, who has been a long-time supporter of genrefication. So, does this mean genrefication is still of interest to school library teams? Is it the way in which we will all move? After the 2020 we had, it seemed like many school libraries used the learning from home period to take the opportunity to genrefy their library. I’d love to hear whether you have genrefied, have it planned or chosen not to. Let me know in the comments below or connect via your choice of social media platform.
Display – Genre Quiz
As part of our focus on genres this year, this interactive, walkable genre quiz display was placed at the front of the library leading to our young adult fiction collection to increase student engagement with the collection and new genre-sorted layout.
Display – Wheel of Reading
Love the Wheel of Fortune TV show? Well, I love interactive book displays and I thought these two elements would be a perfect match. My focus this year has been on promoting our library genres and this wheel of reading was a great way to get kids talking about the different genres they might like to read from. They also loved spinning the wheel – so much so, that I had to make quick repairs mid-way through the week.
Library Ramblings: Genrefication – one year on
A year ago, our school library transformed our Young Adult collection. Using a variety of new genre stickers, genre groupings and collection changes, we fully embraced the genrefication process for our fiction collection. One year on, I took the time to investigate how the change effected our library, borrowing statistics, usage of the collection and student feedback, and how this reflection would direct our future practice. Here is what I learnt, my successes, what I could have done better and my thoughts on the overall process.
Genrefication of a library fiction collection
Genrefication is perhaps the new (and yet not that new at all, really) buzzword for libraries. Opinions are divided on the benefit of such a move, and whether this step should apply to fiction or non-fiction collections (Pendergrass, 2013). Library consultants such as Kevin Hennah (Hennah, n.d) advocate for this book-shop model. Others cite the benefits, which range from better data collection on circulation and a visual aid for collection development to increased user engagement with the collection (Sweeney, 2013).
Genrefication actually isn’t that new (Shearer, 1996), but research surrounding its use and impact on readers is now increasing (Moyer, 2005). Moyer’s review of literature surrounding readers’ services found that genrefication can improve circulation, reader satisfaction, and ease of library navigation. However, other researchers found that genrefication may not be needed as technological advancements and provisions of OPACs allow library users to browse and search by genre digitally (Moyer, 2005). More research is needed on this area, and as individual libraries make the move to present their collection by genres more data can be gathered and shared about its benefits and limitations.