Genrefying the Biography Section
Psst, you know that the biographies are the most boring part of the library, right?!
At least in my library, they get very little love. Except at project time, ‘cause for some reason EVERYONE does a darn bio project. But, that is a research issue for another day.
Our biographies, themselves are great, but our shelves are so packed with books that some weeding and dynamic shelving has been in order for some time.
In the process of preparing for the weeding and organization work, I uncovered Jess Golz’s ’ awesome biography genrefication project. That was the push I needed to get my bios in order and circulating!
I am fortunate enough to have a flexible library schedule, so I blocked out a week to tackle this project head on and get it all done. I started by weeding heavily and then as I weeded, I organized the books into categories, using sticky notes on empty-ish shelves. That is probably the part that took the longest amount of time. And, was the dustiest part of the whole job!
Then I moved the new group of books around so they were in areas where the number of books would fit best onto the shelf. For example, all the artist books fit on one shelf, while the changemaker books needed a whole section of four shelves to accommodate all of the titles.
The back of each book got a sticker for to identify it as a part of that section and the books were scanned to add them to a copy category and shelf location in our circ system. Next was setting them up applying dynamic shelving practices so there were outward facing titles and stacks of books in bins to break up the standard style of shelving.
It has been a satisfying process to see some seriously old books be weeded and then to see the newer books become more visible and accessible to our patrons. It is definitely a process that takes some time, but has freshened up a much neglected section of our collection.
Why just biographies and not all of non-fiction?
How we (my library besties and I) figured out what categories to use...
Here are the final groups that I landed on for our library:
Artists - painters, sculptures, fashion designers, graphic novelists
Entertainers - Actors, Singers, Directors, Comedians
Change Makers - People who were working toward a specific cause
Memoir - autobiographies
Survivors - narratives of survival (Holocaust narratives, and also stories of escaping war and child soldiers)
Infamous - the “baddies” as my daughter would say. Gangsters, and all around bad guys and gals from history. Think Vlad Dracul and Rasputin, and some pirates, but mosly books from the Wicked History Series.
World Leaders - Policticians and people on the world stage.
Adventurers and Military - Explorers, Astronauts, Spies, and Military Leaders
Science & Tech - Math, Science and Inventors
Entreprenures - business moguls (Walt Disney, Madam CJ Walker)
How do we keep things going back to the right place?
A bit about dynamic shelving
Looking for other librarians who have written about this?
Feeling inspired or have questions?
Hi! I'm Sarah, a school librarian and former middle school English teacher. I empower school librarians to use branding and marketing skills in order to build culture, get visible and advocate for their library.