Yes, a big but. I found that despite being organized correctly, my students (the most important part of the library) were unable to consistently find what they were after.
Student: "Where are your horse chapter books?"
Librarian: "Um, well, some are F BAG, and others are F HEN, and there's some in, F WIL"
meaning, they literally were moving all over the room to find them. Sometimes this happened:
Librarian: "Don't you want to check out something you haven't read before?"
Student: "Yeah, but I can't find anything new."
... while surrounded by 4,000 chapter books. The problem wasn't that new books weren't available, it's that this student was standing in front of Rick Riordan, expecting to see other Fantasy/Mythology books on the R shelf.
So, with the help of some students at the end of last year, we
Read about Why: We Genrefied
Read about How: We Tackled the Books
Read about How: We Tackled Destiny
The majority of my 2014-2015 year was spent helping students understand what genres are, discover the genres they like best, and grow the collection based on "holes" they found. The biggest reward was seeing how empowered students were to find books that interest them independently. They are always interested in what I'm reading and what I suggest, but I didn't spend any more time running around the room creating a stack of horse books, or read-alikes... they could find those on their own. They also were drawn to new genres, like Historical Fiction, after seeing where some of their favorite authors or series are shelved.
Teachers and administrators saw a big difference in students enthusiasm towards reading - another big plus! My principal asked me to be a stop on the Board of Education tour to show off our new organization, and in hopes that other schools may choose to do the same. We had students demonstrate Augmented Reality to the BOE members as a way to showcase their favorite genre and how we connect digital literacy with physical books! It's always a huge compliment to me when my administration puts a spotlight on the library and emphasizes the contributions a school library program makes on student achievement and school culture.
In 2013-2014, we ended the school year with 24,545 total items circulated.
- 15% Nonfiction
- 24% Easy picture books
- 1.8% video (teachers)
- 1.25% Science Fiction
- 1.25% Sports Stories
- 2% Action/Adventure
- 2.5% Historical Fiction
- 4% Realistic Fiction
- 4.5% Animal Stories
- 4.6% Fantasy
- 4.8% Mystery
- 12% Humor
- 20% Series (Magic Tree House, Boxcar Children, A-Z Mysteries, etc)
In 2014-2015, we had less items circulate (23,740) but what they checked out changed, which I attribute to being able to find what they're looking for, versus grabbing what they find first. The number was also affected by the change in schedule, so I saw grades 1-2 biweekly, instead of weekly.
- 20% Nonfiction
- 21% Easy picture book
- 0.22% Video
- 1.5% Action/Adventure
- 1.8% Sports Stories
- 2% Science Fiction
- 3% Historical Fiction
- 4.3% Realistic Fiction
- 5.2% Mystery
- 5.5% Animal Stories
- 7% Fantasy
- 15% Humor
- 14% Series
The increase in nonfiction I attribute to the biography chapter books my students love called the "Who Was..." series. It's awesome to see the video percentage go down, because it means teachers are using more current materials online and through our database subscriptions. Fantasy was my biggest mover, and I also grew this and Humor with newer books. Finally, I was happy to see Series go down, because that's the strongest indicator that students moved away from their comfort zone (where I have popular series shelved together, like Magic Tree House) and were willing to explore new areas. Nearly ever genre saw an increase in check outs, even though the overall yearly total went down. Again, 400 less videos were checked out and classes I used to see weekly came bi-weekly, so when that gets factored in, our numbers show an increase. I believe that Action Adventure decreased because it was shelved away from the rest of the genres - we have already moved it back in the mix, so I expect that number to be higher next year!
Other numbers that support the positive growth in our readers are the new top titles from the year. Usually it's Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants, and Smile. This year, new humor titles were in the mix like The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (#4) and Middle School: Worst Year of My Life (#21) because they are shelved near the high-circulating titles, giving students similar options. I always saw some SciFi with Jennifer Holm's The Fourteenth Goldfish (#13) and Among the Hidden (#20) by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Historical titles like the I Survived series were frequently checked out and Holm's Turtle in Paradise (#19). Our Realistic picks were Judy Blume favorites, as well as titles from this year's Battle of the Books. In Fantasy, I was excited to see students gobbling up Roald Dahl's beloved books when they weren't reading Percy Jackson or Brandon Mull.
I'm beyond happy with the changes that genrefication inspired in our library, most importantly, giving students the ability to discover favorites, and new selections, on their own.