Genre-fying Cookbook for Libraries


Why Genre-fy?

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) suggests you organize by genres to make the children more independent and more confident in finding the right book. In fiction especially, there is no reason to organize by author’s last name except “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

Steps & Mistakes:

  1. Visit a library that has done this already.
  2. Pick your categories.
  3. Choose colors and order labels.
  4. Touch each book.
  5. Move the books.
  6. Scan each book and put it in a Sublocation.


1. Visit a library that has done this already. I spent two hours visiting Wendy Cope’s incredible library and wrote down her cookbook.  It was cool to see it in action and get ideas for how to handle my library.  You can read on Wendy’s blog Impossible Possibilities ( )

2.  Pick your categories. Look at other’s suggestions and make a list and discuss it with your team / faculty / committee.  Do not do it alone but share and get everyone’s buy in.  Another library had “Horror/Supernatural” but my team said “Scary” was better for our population.  The word “Supernatural” would upset some of our more religious parents.

Wendy use The Noun Project to get images for her library.  I wanted to do more of a word cloud.  Then I discovered from someone else’s blog the Tagul word cloud where I could upload an image (like a space craft) and use it as the word cloud shape.  I definitely wasted too much time on this, but it was fun!

3. Choose colors and order labels. I was forewarned that silver only worked if you double-taped.  Single silver looked clear.  I ordered Demco color-tinted glossy label protectors 1 x 3. or slightly smaller at about $14/box.  I choose the following categories and corresponding colors:

  • Action Adventure – Yellow
  • Animals – Green
  • Fantasy – Purple
  • Historical Fiction – Lt. Blue
  • Humor – Copper
  • Mystery – Dark blue
  • Realistic Fiction – no label
  • Romance – Pink
  • Scary – Red
  • Science Fiction – Lt. Green
  • Sports – Orange

It turns out that copper on different color book jackets can sometimes (often!) look like orange.  They are very hard to tell apart.  So I ended up double-taping the copper to make it darker.  If I start over, I would try tan.

labels 002

4. Touch each book and note the category on the inside front page (in pencil). This is the biggest step.  Write the category on the inside page and immediately put a colored label on it.  Why pencil?  It felt like every book had more than one option for genre.  I choose one.  Then I changed it.  Sometimes I changed more than once.  It’s okay.

HINT: Be careful how you place the darker colored stickers near the barcode.  If they cover the barcode, it won’t scan.  Just unpeel and restick the stickers.


You will need to take each book off the shelf, not just lean them over like you might do in inventory to scan.  It was amazing the number of books that fell apart when I handled them.  Weed.  There were so many multiple copies. Weed. There were books from the 1950s that were not even remotely classical. WEED.  You will probably remove hundreds of books.  It’s okay.

Let the students help!  I laid out signs for the 11 genres on a big table, walked over to a shelf and pulled a pile of books off.  The students came to do it whenever they had free time.  They sorted a significant number of books though I did make the final judgement.  More, I overheard those lovely discussions like “I used to only get books based on the cover, but some of these sound really interesting” or “Do I have to sort this or can I just check it out?”

5. Move the books. At this point, I’ll take any advice on making this easier.  I moved books from the starting point and put them on top of shelves.  After a little while, I had books lining many shelves while I sorted by color.  Then I didn’t leave enough space in the first section (Action Adventure) and finally stopped at the third section (Fantasy).  I moved books and adjusted by several shelves before continuing again.

6. Scan each book and put it in a Destiny sub-location. I did not (yet) add the description to the call number like taking a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book and converting it to FIC KIN Humor.  I left the call numbers alone and simply scanned it to the sub-location.

HINT: Turn on INVENTORY for Fiction books.  Then scanning each book to change the categories counts as inventory read!  Two birds, one stone.

Here’s the trick, create a sublocation WITHIN an edit of a specific book in Destiny.

destiny 1

Then click on OTHER next to Sublocation (this had the building number “693” originally) and Add Sublocation and SAVE:

destiny 2

Then I can set the system to start changing (Catalog → Update Copies → Individual Update).  It does it individually, but I just scanned like in taking inventory.  And it acted like inventory and counted towards it.  Cool!

destiny 3

Additional note:  I’ve noticed that students are having trouble with the colors still so I modified the names again to reflect the colors.

sublocation w colors

6. Make a map & throw a party! Make sure students and teachers can find the books!

genres map


One thought on “Genre-fying Cookbook for Libraries

  1. Beth Wilborn says:

    Wow! This is wonderful!!!! Thank you for taking the time to share this with us. You did an amazing job. Rock on Media Beast!


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