The Restricted Section is BACK!

Our Upper School Book and Film club, AKA The Restricted Section, had their very first meeting of the school year. The new officers were enthusiastic, there was a great turnout and they had more then enough cookies!!

This club is serious about reading but it’s not your typical book club. They don’t all read the same book and then discuss it. They select a new genre each meeting and then discuss any books or movies that they’ve read/seen that fit the genre. The current genre is Fantasy. They also like to review and recommend books; the advanced readers copies went fast! Check out their tumblr page, Restricted Section

Their first Night at the Library is October 3rd. Although the film is still undecided. The club is evenly split – will it be  The House at the End of the Street or Corpse Bride?

house corpse

Library Re-envisioned

Over the past year we brainstormed and discussed how to re-create spaces in our library to better fit the needs of the students. They wanted areas to collaborate with their classmates, spaces to hide away and study, comfortable spots to chill out, and more.  In order to make this happen we had a little rearranging to do; thousands of books were moved (unfortunately, most were moved more then once), and the Learning Lab (technology) was moved into the center of the library.

We are into week two of the school year and although we are still working on a few small snags, things seem to be going well.

A few photos of our new space..

The Commons

The Middle

The Source

The Hive

The Think Tank

The Hub


Just days after we finished adding the short story stickers we had three 10th grade English classes visit. Their assignment? To find and read a short story! The books were ready but where were the signs?

Time to improvise! Within minutes Traci, our Assistant Librarian, created this


and the students LOVED it. The sign was simple and to the  point.

All the SHORT STORIES clearly marked shortstory

and they were browsable by GENRE.






The Full Story


Reason to Celebrate

Genres Finalized

After weeks of deliberating we settled on our genres. We ordered tinted color label protectors from Demco to help color code the genres: FantasyScience FictionComedy & HumorAction & AdventureRealistic FictionMysteryThriller & SuspenseHistorical FictionSports FictionRelationships & RomanceLiterary FictionMulticultural, and Graphic Novels g

We added additional labels on the book spines to identify Short Stories and books written in Verse within each genre.




We now have a cleaner collection!!! Yes, we did loads and loads of weeding, but analyzing the collection allowed us to find (and if needed fix or weed) titles that were miscataloged, and incomplete series (sometimes we only had #3 or #6, did we ever own the complete series?). And by going through the collection to add the new color labels, shelf reading happened. You know that thing you never have time for.  I fully realize how unimportant this may sound to non-librarians, but for my librarian friends you know how AWESOME this is. I’m talking double high-fives, break out the champagne soda celebration!! I know, I know, this will not last, but for the moment we will enjoy knowing that the books (even if only for a few hours) were all in order.

 For the Full Story

The Journey Continues…

The Beginning

I was nervous to share this genrefication idea with the Middle School Librarian and Assistant Librarian, after all what I was suggesting wouldn’t happen over night, but they jumped on board without hesitation. I was thrilled!  With all the debate over the issue, I couldn’t believe they didn’t need any convincing, so before anyone could second guess themselves we had our first meeting.

Meeting One genres

The goal? Make a plan – where do we begin? We decided to start with genres, once we knew our genres we could assign books. Easy, right? Wrong! After 45 minutes we had somewhat agreed on 10 genres. Why 10? For some reason, 10 just sounded good at the time. We then printed out shelf lists for the MS and US fiction sections and put them in binders. We gave ourselves a month to assign each book a genre.

Original Genre List: Scific/Fantasy, Comedy/Humor, Action/Adventure, Realistic, Mystery/Thriller, Historical Fiction, Western, Sports, Graphic Novel, Love/Romance

What really happened… Firstly, 10 genres was not enough – we had to expand, but could we agree? Secondly, a month was simply not realistic; there were thousands of books in each collection, and the US collection hadn’t been weeded in 14 years!

Second attempt at Genre List: We separated Science Fiction and Fantasy (two completely different genres), got rid of Westerns (this could go with action adventure), separated mystery from suspense/thriller novels, and created categories for Classics and also Contemporary / World.

This time we were happy again, but not for long…

What is a Classic? classic

I challenge you to come up with an answer that more than one person completely agrees with. The debate continues here in the library, I’ve consulted with anyone who will listen. My current feeling is to add these titles (whatever they are) to a vague Literature category

Genre Busters!

What to do with all those books that don’t easily fit in a genre. The books that aren’t written for teens but are sometimes read by teens (or their teachers). These books are realistic (for lack of a better genre)  but due to an absence of teenage characters, we wanted to give them a separate genre. I’ve been given many suggestions: Literature, Human section, Contemporary, Adult – but none seem to fit. The dilemma continues.

For the full story


A journey to a browsable library

I’ve never really been happy with how books are organized in libraries. Why is it that nobody, except the librarian, can ever easily find anything? Yes, the books are organized and by using the catalog you can get a number to track a book down on a shelf. But, what if you don’t have the right search terms, or if you just want to browse a genre? Why is it easy to find a good book at the bookstore but not so easy in the library?

The students and faculty at our school often had the same questions…

“Do we have any Science Fiction books”

“Are there Short Stories my class can borrow”

“I love this book, do we have more just like it”

which led me to believe that they too, were frustrated with the way the books were organized in our library. Shouldn’t a library be set up to best serve its patrons, not to best serve the librarian shelving the books?

After reading journal articles and attending the 2016 AASL conference I decided to make a change, to create a browsable library.  And with the HELP (lots and lots of it) and support of the Middle School Library Staff we are genre-fying the Middle and Upper School fiction collections.

The Genrefication page of this blog will follow our story - the successes (a few so far, but the end product is what we are really going for) and the frustrations (too many to count).