Saturday, March 4, 2023

Library Collections: Branch into chapters

The top shelf displays new titles
This is the collection starting at the left end and faces the juvenile dvds

When I began my current job, over a decade ago, there was a paperback section of the juvenile fiction. Whatever works for other libraries is fine, but I have never liked the idea of collections based on physical format once you get into chapter books. It gets too close to "shelving books by size" out of convenience for the staff with no thought for how patrons look for things. Of course, there are reasons to do it - some people like paperbacks, some books only come in paperback, they can get lost on the shelf, etc. Still, I didn't like the current arrangement.

Over the years, I've refined and shifted this section brainstormed with staff, and finally in the fall of 2021 expanded our early reader and beginning chapter sections and have them in specific areas. All of our beginning chapters are now in one area with the designation JBC and labeled "Branch into Chapters." They combine paperback series in tubs, some hardcovers, easy graphic novels, and stand-alone titles.

Reading brochures and bookmarks
Read and Grow folders
After the books had all been relabeled, we reorganized this whole area, shifting shelves and making the area a more natural progression from picture book, to early reader, to beginning chapters, to juvenile fiction and nonfiction. I was initially a little nervous about how long it would take people to find things, but I figured that if the same kid is going to ask twice a week for a month where the Magic Tree House books are, it can't really matter where I put them, right? Turns out I was correct and as soon as the books were back on the shelf and relabeled they started flying off the shelf, even faster than before as kids could now find things like Princess in Black and Geronimo Stilton more easily. I also have additional space to expand popular series.

I previously had extensive lists posted here that included diversity, reading level, and genre and I have now incorporated that into a massive spreadsheet, including series, stand-alone titles, diversity, gender, genre, and reading level.

Interestingly, mysteries used to be the biggest genre and most of our mysteries are older series. Funny series are growing to be the biggest collection and they certainly have a large circulation. Fantasy is a large section, but primarily includes a lot of interchangeable fairies, mermaids, etc. traditionally seen as "girl" books.
The beginning chapters end in a display of the 
new juvenile fiction and nonfiction
As far as diversity, I only count a book as BIPOC if the child of color is the main protagonist, not the friend or sidekick. Series with female main characters tend to have far more non-white protagonists than those with male protagonists, but animal and funny characters tend towards male while "magical" characters like fairies and unicorns are usually female.

Current state of the collection
This collection is currently about 2,000 titles. I have replaced several classic series - Junie B. Jones, A to Z mysteries, and Magic Tree House. I'll continue to expand the beginning graphic novels, as this is a popular trend. I'm still searching for more series with religious themes, titles featuring Hispanic kids, and books with non-white boy protagonists. I'd like to see funny girls and boys (or male characters) who can be magical and sensitive. The only one I've seen so far is in the Fairylight Friends from Acorn. I've added more lower level series, especially Acorn, for the increasing number of struggling readers.


1 comment:

Terry Doherty said...

Wow, Jennifer. That is some great research!! I thought mysteries were still the top. Guess not.

I would bet there are some publishers who would love to see your conclusions - more boy protagonists of color, more Latino/Latina characters.

Great stuff!