How Genrefication Makes School Libraries More Like Bookstores
Gail Cornwall Jul 22, 2018 https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/51336/how-genrefication-makes-school-libraries-more-like-bookstores
Under the Dewey Decimal System that revolutionized and standardized book shelving starting in 1876, nonfiction essentially already gets the genrefication treatment with, for example, Music located in the 780s and Paleontology in the 560s. Yet most fiction is shelved in one big clump alphabetized by author’s last name.
Many librarians say the “search hurdle” imposed by Dewey classification (a system originally designed for adults) significantly reduces the odds of a child finding something new they’re likely to enjoy. In a genrefied library, on the other hand, a young reader standing near a favorite book need only stick out a hand to find more like it. (It’s a bit like the analog version of Amazon’s recommendation feature: “Customers who bought this item also bought”)
The Dewey-loyal also oppose genrefication in principle for, interestingly enough, the same reason others support it: self-sufficiency. Sure, they argue, kids might be better able to find a book independently in their school library, but what happens when they go to the public one? When they get to high school?
The debate has led to compromise positions. Some leave books for older students in the Dewey arrangement while genrefying for younger ones. Other librarians rearrange middle readers and young adult books but leave picture books shelved by author since it can be unclear how to categorize a story about a duck driving a tractor.