Genrefication Objection #3: College professors increasingly report that their students come to college with no research skills.


Poor research skills have nothing to do with genrefying fiction books.

I’ve seen this one in lots of comments sections of blog posts (here, here, and here) about genrefication. I don’t doubt that students come to college lacking in research skills. University students lack these skills for a whole host of reasons, some of which are addressed here, here, and here.

Since the majority of my library experience is in elementary and middle schools, I can only speak to my own experience as to why students leave middle school without the research skills they need for high school and ultimately, college-level coursework. I list several possible reasons students lack research skills in a separate post, but not a single one of them has anything to do with genrefying fiction books. Nor do any of the three articles listed above name fiction genrefication as a deterrent to student acquision of research skills.

To me, this argument is like comparing apples and oranges. It argument assumes that genrefication is meant to replace Dewey. That it’s either Dewey OR genrefication. It isn’t. In both the libraries I genrefied, Dewey is still in place, right next to my genrefied fiction books. Unlike the fiction section, the nonfiction section is organized by Dewey, which is by definition arranged by subject. Nonfiction books students require for research purposes are still available, classified by Dewey, in the nonfiction section of the library. In my library at least, nothing has changed in the Dewey section except an ample increase in signage and more obvious division of Dewey subjects.

A well-labeled Dewey section helps students navigate Dewey without dissolving it.


Genrefying fiction helps browsers find the books they want to read for fun. Students who want to use the online catalog to find a particular book are still able to do that.

The research skills students need to succeed in college have nothing to do with Dewey or LCCN. They have to do with improper internet research and disregarding intellectual property and lack of experience with research databases. The problem is not that our libraries are genrefied; it’s that, for a whole host of reasons, students are not getting the research instruction they need prior to entering college.

Next: Genrefication Objection #4 

Related posts:

Genrefication Debate: Dewey has worked for 150 years. Why change it now?–This post is the first in a series of seven posts debating the merits of genrefication. Here, I encourage librarians to keep Dewey in place when genrefying fiction books.



Classroom or Library Book Genrefication Labels
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.


  • I'm about convinced! I have a K-8 library. Did you only reorganize the chapter books or also the picture/easy books?

    • Hi, Sara B! I have only genrefied middle and high school libraries, but I know of people who have somewhat genrefied E books. They do some subsections for popular items like Holidays, Caldecott, ABC books, units of study, picture books for older readers, etc. I've also seen them in flexible browsing carts (not shelves–they are more like reach-in cubbies) by topics like trucks, cats, autumn, moving, bullies, Nate the Great books, etc. I think fully genrefying E would be much more challenging since many do not really have a "genre" outside of being picture books. If it's been done, I haven't seen it.

    • My apologies, Library Bee! Life got in the way a bit this summer. I just posted #4 and have scheduled #5 and #6 over the next couple of days.


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