Last week, I met with a librarian at an elementary school to genrefy her picture book collection.
Serving a community of advanced readers with ample access to books outside of school, circulations of picture books were very low. Students as early as kindergarten and first grade were more interested in her early chapter books collection than large-format picture books. Our goals were to increase circulation in this section by organizing it in a way that promoted easy browsing and catered to the way students wanted to find materials, increasing the likelihood of serendipitous discovery.
In order to do this, she first performed a thorough weeding of the section. She already had pulled leveled readers and early chapter books for inclusion in another section, and has a rotating display of kindergarten books--all cheap paperbacks--so all that was left were large-format picture books, most of them hardcover.
We started by sorting books into piles on her tables, and had started with some ideas for general categories. Holidays would need it's own section, as well as talking animals.
When we came across things we were unsure about, we set them aside, or put them nearby one of our major categories with the idea that we'd wait and see what the numbers looked like before making a decision.
The last step was re-purposing her alphabet shelf signage with words and pictures to describe the new genres. While I'll list them hierarchically, at present we haven't made an effort to define top-level sections. This breakdown represents about 1,500 books, so we didn't feel the need to define an animal "section" that was subdivided into Pets, Farm Animals, Forest Animals, etc. We just have them one after the other.
Over the course of the Sorting, we came across some decisions to make. Talking animal books featuring different types of animals went to the main character or the first-named character. A book about a cat and a dog was a cat book. A dog and cat book was a dog book. Elephant and Piggie books, for instance, are found in Zoo Animals with the other elephant books.
Seven to ten books in a particular area got their own designation. Your mileage may vary. You may have more or fewer.
This is a highly experimental rearrangement, and we want to ensure that any changes we make to the catalog are easy to implement and to change. If we are happy with the category assignments and find them easy and intuitive both for students and for reshelving, we will use color coding on the book spines and include genre section information in the Location subfield in Destiny. This will allow future library staff to easily scrap or overhaul the genrefication project to meet the needs of future students.