Let the Fiction Genrefying Begin!
There is a lot of controversy involving this topic in the library world, and for good reason. At the end of the day, helping our patrons find what they're looking for is one of the core functions of our existence. Anything that threatens that goal can turn librarians in to very scary people because it matters so much to us.
However, we believe that genrefying our fiction will serve our patrons better. Here's why:
For a year I have been allowing the thought of genrefying to percolate in my brain. I watched the behavior of my students and noticed that they very rarely search for books by author. In fact, they don't use our catalog at all. They prefer to just wander until something catches their eye, and they want it fast.
Their need for speed is not only a sign of that generation, but it is also a result of our school schedule. Our students are very busy and often-times literally only have four minutes in between classes to find a book if they want one.
I can tell you that combination makes for some pretty depressing readers advisory experiences. It's so incredibly hard to give a recommendation with the clock so demanding unless you happen to love that same type of book and know something off the top of your head. We are hoping that genrefying our fiction will alleviate some of these problems and match the "browsing culture" of our school that much more.
Our Steps to Genrefying
Step 1: Sticker all the books. The first thing we're doing is putting genre stickers on every single book in our fiction section. This will allow us to take our time with the transition, get to know our collection better, and help us inform which genres we end up choosing. I have learned that the genres chosen depend heavily on each school's particular community. I'll make sure I let you know which genres we chose and why in a later post.
Step 2: Apply matching sub-locations. My Media Center Assistant and I spent a lot of time discussing how our catalog would represent the LOCATION of our new genrefied fiction books. I didn't want to rely on stickers alone for the students to find the books and we certainly weren't interested in changing the call numbers and labels on all of them. So I made a phone call to Follett (we use Destiny for our LMS). Turns out there's something called a sub-location that would allows us to plug in a location for where a book can be found. We can even generate reports using the sub-location field if we want to create shelf-reading lists. And the best part is that if something is in the sub-location field, it comes up if the book is searched. This was an important crux for us to surpass in order to make this possible, so we're really excited to have a viable means to making this a reality.
Step 3: Make sure sub-headings match. I haven't even begun this onerous task, but I need to make sure that the sub-headings in the MARC record of each book matches the genre into which the book has been placed. That way if our users plug in "romance," they'll get an accurate list of every book we have that is in our romance section, or any other book in our collection that has romantic elements in it, even if it's in our science fiction section.
I'm not entirely sure what Step 4 is going to be yet. I know the last step is moving the books, but I'm sure there will be other work in between. Have you genrefied your fiction section before? Any words of wisdom you can give me?