This is not why I became a librarian!! I want to talk to kids about their choices and enable them to find materials that interest them, so they can use that skill the rest of their life. Yes, knowing the author of a book is important and I encourage them to always read more if they liked a specific author, but that's not discovery-based searching - it requires memorization. Elementary students are still building their reading foundation and we need to eliminate frustrations, not create more hassles.
After observing their searching and retrieval methods for the last 2 years, it became clear to me that most students pick books one of 2 ways: by their classroom-determined levels (AR or mClass), or whatever's close by when check out time is up. As they get older, they are influenced by what friends read, as well as discovering genres that they enjoy. In each grade, genre is taught but it isn't until about 4th grade (based on my experience) that the students start developing their allegiance to specific ones. With a genrefied library, I hope to see younger students be aware of the differences and older students be more open to trying something they wouldn't usually gravitate towards. While there are many arguments for/against Genre-based shelving (Pro: it's a more 'authentic' experience since bookstores are organized this way... Con: won't teach kids the Dewey-way found in other libraries...), for me, it comes down to doing whatever will help students and teach them a useful skill. I'm not trying to make it easier, but rather, encourage the students to think deeper about what they're reading and the connections to other books they enjoy.
Over the last few years I've read articles, blog posts, and arguments for and against genrefying. Some of my favorites can be found at the bottom of this post, but the important thing I learned from my research is there is no formula and that's why it works for some media specialists. Unlike the Dewey Decimal System, you will not find which genres to use, how to label the books, or the best way to change your catalog. Instead, you watch your students and determine: how do they search for a book? Which genres would they be interested in? What will work best for them? With all that in mind, I will post over the next week about the process that I personally went through, and provide suggestions on how to make it work for you.
Feel free to make comments and ask questions here on the blog, or find me on twitter @molleebranden
The Digital Shift
Mrs. Reader Pants
Librarian on Display
Mighty Little Librarian
AASL Blog on Genrefying