I went to the grocery store today. I bought ham, cheese, eggs, apples, and milk. With the exception of a few mega-sized supermarkets, most grocery stores here in my part of China are about the size of 7-11 stores in the USA. For today’s trip, I was able to find everything I needed in maybe 5 minutes, tops.
Thankfully, this grocery store, like every grocery store I’ve ever visited, had all the cold stuff–ham, cheese, eggs, and milk–all together in one place. The items I needed share similar characteristics such as the fact that they are all perishable foods that need refrigeration. Three are dairy items, so they are really close together. The apples were with the other produce, only a few steps away.
How long would this trip have taken if I had to know the manufacturer of each of these food items in order to find them? What if I had to use the store’s online catalog of goods to look up the manufacturers so I could find my groceries? Honestly, I don’t care who made the foods; I just want to buy them quickly so I can get home to my family. Am I being lazy because I don’t want to wander around the store hoping to randomly spot what I am looking for?
Genrefying fiction is similar to grouping like items together at the grocery store.
By shelving similar books together, genrefication makes the Fiction section more user-friendly and matches the way we are accustomed to looking for what we need. At the grocery store, I did not need any canned goods today, so I did not need to waste my time browsing the canned goods shelves. In the same way, students who know they want a beachy summer romance today do not need to waste their time browsing the Science Fiction section.
Grocery store analogies aside, I do agree that librarians should teach their students library skills. While my fiction section is genrefied, I still have a fully-functioning Dewey section. I still teach Dewey and catalog search skills using a modified version of the Caveman Dewey PowerPoint. I use Kahoot to quiz my students on Dewey numbers. I love holding up my big green Dewey Abridged and have students call out some random topic so I can find the number for them. I love challenging students to figure out where we would catalog topics like candy bars or trampoline skills or schizophrenia. I always have a few students who really get into it and love the challenge.
But what about the other students, the ones who don’t get into it? The ones who don’t listen. Who don’t care. Who don’t speak English so well. Who just don’t get it, no matter how hard they try. Perhaps they are lazy, bored, apathetic, tired…I’m sure some are exactly that. But aren’t these the students who need the library the most? And if they are truly lazy, how likely are they to use Dewey anyway? Isn’t it better that we meet them where they are, even if that is more than halfway? Isn’t it better that they have a book that might actually interest them than no book at all? Or would we rather they just grabbed any random book because they had to have something to read for DEAR?
When the fiction section takes up nearly half of the library,
we must find ways to help non-readers find the books they will love.
Dewey did this by subdividing all the books into ten subject catagories. Librarians who genrefy do this by subdividing our mega-Fiction sections into genre categories. No, genrefication may not be perfect, but then again, neither is Dewey.
Recent posts about genrefication:
Thinking about genrefying your library? Want to update your current genre labels? This set of genre labels is designed save you time and help make your genrefied library beautiful and easy to navigate.