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Un-Deweying a School Library


School librarians around the country have been intrigued (or horrified) by recent trends in school library classification and organization. Some of our colleagues have ditched Dewey in favor of  a "book store" model, adopting a practice known as "genrefication." Fueled by a desire to empower her students to be more independent and successful at finding books they want to read, librarian Sandy Bixby decided in October 2014 to "un-Dewey" her elementary school library collection. The BCPS Office of Digital Learning provided leadership and support for this pilot project. This Wiki page provides information and resources from the genrefication project at Edgemere Elementary School. Other librarians may find these useful as they consider reorganizing their own collections. Mrs. Bixby is also sharing project news, photos and reflections throughout entire process on her blog, Bixby's Bookshelves. 

Table of Contents



Conference/Workshop Presentations

 MASL Conference 2015

 It's THEIR Library! Un-Deweying to

 Empower Diverse Readers


 Common Ground 2015

 Un-Deweying the School Library: 
 Empowering Students and

 Expanding Learning 



  Professional Study Day 2015
for BCPS K-12 Library Media  Specialists - PRESENTATION

  BCPS S.T.A.T. School Library Summer   Institute 2015 - PRESENTATION



Pilot Project Team

Project Management:

Book Labeling & Re-shelving:

  • Amanda Lanza - ODL Specialist; Justin Hennaut, Valerie Schaffer, Ben Wagner, Jennifer Weaver - ODL Resource Teachers
  • Amanda Amrhine, Library Media Specialist - Chesapeake Terrace Elementary & Kara Sheppard, Library Media Specialist - Bear Creek Elementary

Scanning copies and setting Destiny Sublocations:  Donna Gruzs & Remi Thunga, ODL Clerks


Edgemere Elementary School Facts

Edgemere Elementary School is a K-5 public school in the Baltimore County Public Schools, the 25th largest school district in the U.S. and 3rd largest in Maryland.

  • 487 students: 47% FARM, 10% Special Education (2014-15) 
  • Average class size 22-27 students.

Edgemere ES Library: 


Research & Inspiration

We did our homework as we planned this project, including consideration of perspectives on both sides of the "Dewey vs. Genrefication" debate.
We read articles and blogs, viewed presentations and Webinars, and learned from trailblazers who had "genrefied" their school library collections before us.



Why Sandy Bixby & BCPS ODL decided to un-Dewey the library collection at Edgemere Elementary School:

  • To better connect kids with books and promote reading.
  • To make the Library a more student-centered environment. 
  • To empower students to be more independent and successful at finding books they want to read.
  • To balance time for learning and for finding books in the Library.
    • BCPS has a rigorous, AASL/CCSS-aligned K-5 Library Media Curriculum.  Lessons take most of the class period.
    • Limited time for searching Destiny catalog and browsing shelves.
    • Students have not mastered decimal number skills.
    • Dewey Decimal System is more librarian-centric than learner-centric.
    • Students spent more time searching the catalog and asking the librarian than finding what they want to read on their own.


Categorizing Fiction & Nonfiction Books

We planned to genrefy the Fiction section first, then the Nonfiction section; we decided not to re-organize the Everybody (picture books) section for now.

We quickly identified 9 Fiction genres represented in the collection.  For the Nonfiction section, Edgemere Elementary school students brainstormed subjects based on their reading interests and their knowledge of books in the collection. We narrowed down a long list to 30 main Nonfiction subjects; sub-categories would be identified later. Genre/Subject names are short and student-friendly (for example, we used "Just Like Me" for contemporary realistic fiction).


Once our category lists were finalized, we searched Microsoft Clip Art, Clipart.com (by subscription) and other copyright-friendly image sources for simple images to serve as visual cues on book spine labels and signs. Then, with a team of helpers, we began the arduous task of categorizing the books, labeling them, and re-organizing them on the shelves.


Custom Spine Labels & Signage

After examining classification labels available from various vendors (DemcoBrodart), we decided to create our own custom spine labels and signs:


FICTION Genres (SECONDARY):  See labels hereProcessing Spine Labels 3/4" X 1-1/4" 






FICTION Genres (ELEMENTARY):  See Fiction Labels and Fiction Signs for label sheets and signs in 3x5, 5x7, and 8x10 sizes.

NONFICTION Subjects (ELEMENTARY):  See Nonfiction Labels and Nonfiction Signs for label sheets and signs in 5x7 and 8x10 sizes.


Assigning Sublocations in DESTINY


For Direction #5 above: Two methods for Batch-assigning Sublocations in Destiny for all books of the same fiction genre or nonfiction subject.
Quicker than having to select the Sublocation for each individual book when scanning!  Thanks to Tricia Lige and Kristen Zucconi for sharing these directions.


Genre or Subject/Subject-Subcategory will display as Location under Call # as shown here:

Student Reactions 

 See student reaction videos, etc. on  Bixby's Bookshelves blog:  From the Mouth's of Students; Nonfiction Feedback


Circulation Data Illustrating Impact

  • Preliminary data from Destiny showed significant circulation increase immediately following genrefication, compared to data for same week previous year:
    • Fiction:  40% increase   Nonfiction:  400 % increase
  • Subsequent data analysis showed continued circulation increases during the 2014-15 school year.


Maintaining the Momentum: Promoting Fiction Genres & Related Reading

  • FICTION Genre Spotlight pages were created on the Edgemere Elementary School Library Wiki @ http://edgemereeslibrary.pbworks.com.
  • QR codes were added to Fiction genre signs and wiki pages; students can use their HP Revolve devices to snap the QR code and explore Genre pages.


BCPS Librarians' Resources

  • Action Plan (Sample) - Customize according to your specific plans. You must submit an Action Plan to ODL if you are requesting ODL staff support. Our ability to provide on-site assistance is limited and we cannot make any promises.