Trends in the Library World

Blogging Challenge for School Librarians, Day 9

There are a lot of new trends (and some recycled trends) in the library world. Share one you have tried or are considering trying. 

At the recent conference for the American Association of School Librarians, there were several sessions on genrefying a school library collection. Genrefying isn't exactly new, though it is a trend. The idea is that, by following a bookstore model with better organization, the connection between student readers and their interests is more easily forged. 

Image courtesy of Unsplash, under Creative Commons Zero

Image courtesy of Unsplash, under Creative Commons Zero

I'll be honest. I'm usually the first little eager beaver to go after a newfangled thing in librarianship, but my first few exposures to the concept of genrefying felt all wrong. It could have been that I was working at the elementary level during that time, and genrefying is better suited for middle and high school. It could have been that I was both in graduate school and pregnant with my third child then and could not even begin to find brain-room for something as big as reorganizing my entire collection.

I think it mostly was all tied up in the fact that I was just not sold on how this was best for students. 

Our job, as school librarians, is not to crack open little heads and pour knowledge in. Our job is to equip and empower students with the right tools and the right resources to ALWAYS find what they need. I believed that genrefying was wrong because it felt so against the core principles of our profession. How would students know how to find all the books by their favorite author if they weren't taught that fiction books are arranged by alphabetical order and by the author's last name? How would this be teaching them to find what they need when they walk into ANY library, not just their current school library? 

It felt wrong and I didn't like it and I decided...just, no. 

But then I went to AASL. And after the session (hosted by a panel of middle and high school librarians who talked about their process of genrefying...I still wasn't sold), there was an older librarian who walked to the mic that was set up to take questions and comments. She explained how she disagreed with genrefying for a long time because of her own personal concerns that we were detracting from the core principles of information literacy (I froze and seriously wondered if she possessed mind-reading powers). But then she said that she tried it, and found that genrefying DOES promote the tenets of teaching kids how to use libraries because it's all dependent on the signage. Interpreting signage is a huge part of functioning in life, period, and most definitely in a library. When I visit a new public library, my first order of business is to find the signs and figure out the lay of the land. 

And so, in that regard, genrefying just might be one of the best things that ever happened to school libraries. 

Here are a few genrefying pioneers who have been very transparent in their method of applying this trend to their school libraries:

Mean Old Library Teacher

Living in a Library World

Fountain Reflections