Zebra Homepage

DOE Blog

SD Department of Education
April 2020  

Helping students find the “spooky” books

Brenda DeHaan is the K-12 school librarian for the Andes Central and Wagner Community school districts.

Adjusting to school closures related to COVID-19
Like all educators, DeHaan has been making adjustments due to school closures. She’s been promoting electronic resources, including the South Dakota State Library’s numerous electronic databases, with students and colleagues and has appreciated how many book companies have offered free downloads and other resources.

Since the Lake Andes Carnegie Library now has access to the OverDrive platform for checking out e-books, she has been reaching out to Andes Central middle and high school students, encouraging them to contact the public librarian in order to open accounts.

She has set up book return tubs where students pick up grab-and-go meals and homework packets. Thanks to software upgrades she had begun back in February, she has been able to do more from home.

When she’s home in Wagner and library books are returned in Lake Andes, a coworker calls her, reads off the bar code numbers, and she checks in the books on her computer. One day the two of them checked in 100 books in under 20 minutes!

DeHaan has found one unexpected benefit of the closures is extra time to devote to an ongoing project: “I’ve recently genrefied in both libraries, but I hadn't had time to update each book's genre in the catalog. Now I have time! In a binder, I have a list of one school's 19,000 books and their corresponding genres. The other school has thousands of the same books, so I can update both schools' book catalogs from home. It's a slow process, but I’m glad that I can do this at home.”

students reading in tipi
During the week of Native American Day, Wagner Community School sets up a tipi. Pictured here, Wagner High School students read to elementary students during the younger students’ story time.

Where are the spooky books?
Where are the spooky books? It’s a question that school librarians have probably heard many times over the years. DeHaan certainly had, and it prompted her to action.

Genrefication is sometimes called the “bookstore model” since it’s a way of grouping books by topic, rather than fully utilizing the traditional Dewey Decimal system. DeHaan uses a combination of the two sorting systems.

When asked what advice she would offer librarians interested in genrefication, she says with a laugh, “Well, I wrote a book on it.” In 2019, she self-published Where Are the Spooky Books? How to Genrefy Your Library: Weeding, Moving, and Genrefying.

Genrefication can seem overwhelming. There are a variety of ways to sort books, and not every book fits neatly into just one category. DeHaan found having to pack up one school’s entire collection for a move was a good motivation for trying it out.

One key suggestion DeHaan offers is to leave plenty of room at the end of shelves to make maneuvering easier. There are also book vendors that offer the service of listing each fiction book’s genre in a spreadsheet.

Students can be another great source of help for determining which category a book should go in. DeHaan recommends asking your patrons where they would be most inclined to search for a book.

DeHaan has enjoyed great success with the process. “Since genrefying, I have seen circulation of some books that hadn’t been checked out for decades,” she says. “I try to weed books that haven’t been checked out in more than 10 years, but if it’s a historical book and you’re not going to replace it, you might keep it. One of our genres is a war and military section, and it’s proven popular. That’s an example where I had one book get checked out for the first time since 1987. Once it was genrefied, people could find it more easily.”

Andes Central students of varying ages celebrate World Read Aloud Day.

State Home Page | Disclaimer | Accessibility | Privacy Policy
© 2020 S.D. Department of Education, 800 Governors Drive, Pierre, SD 57501 - (605) 773-3134