The first step was to take books from A-Z order, and put them in piles based on their genre. I've previously rearranged the library, so my hands have been on every fiction book, but it doesn't mean I knew what they were all about. I also didn't want to categorize a book (such as Charlotte's Web) as fantasy if students would have been searching in the animal section for it. Some familiar titles, like the Ramona series, fall into clear-cut genres, but many can be very tricky. To ensure that this would be as student-friendly as possible, I recruited 4th grade AIG students for this important process. I made up signs and attached them to book carts or tables and gave students the responsibility to find books based on their assigned genre. I did reserve the "veto authority" to change a genre if I (or other students) did not agree, but this didn't happen often! They went to town snatching books off shelves and putting them on carts/tables! It took about 3 hours of searching, discussing, and organizing before the library looked like this:
- Realistic Fiction
- Science Fiction
- Historical Fiction
- Animal Stories
- Sports Stories
When my window of time was up borrowing the students from their classroom, I was left with loads of carts, stacks of books on tables and bookshelves, and a few miscellaneous books laying on shelves. This is about the time where I cracked open a Diet Coke, fell into the couch, and wondered why I even thought this was a good idea at the end of the school year!!! Fortunately, my excitement to see the change happen propelled me to start examining the closest cart (Mystery) and I was surprised to see that my 2 Mystery sorters had found so many, that they overflowed onto a second cart! I started scanning to make sure I agreed with their selections, and once I saw they were on the right track, I moved onto another cart. Then the tables... then those left on the bookshelves with no known genre. Instead of making those decisions on my own, I made a stack next to our computer stations so I could pull some more students to determine where these titles would fit. The next day, a group of 5th graders came to help with labeling, and I asked a few responsible ones (and their teacher, my good friend who helped so much with this experience!) to use goodreads.com and amazon.com to determine where the remaining books should go.
"In order to meet these challenges and help our teachers to increase reading comprehension, promote information literacy and increase the use of digital resource while continuing to foster a love of reading, Mrs. Holloman undertook the “re-envisioning” of our traditional elementary school library as a 21st century hub for research, collaboration, and project-based learning. Part of that process included the physical reorganization of the facility and a complete update of our classification system by genre to increase student independence and their critical thinking skills." - M. Wetzel July 2014