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Near one entrance to Reed Intermediate School’s library, “street sign” directions point the way to genres. The library was rearranged to a more bookstore model over the summer with the help of students, parents, staff, and other volunteers.
Now with the school year well underway, Reed’s students are using the library.
“It’s a lot easier,” said sixth grader Annika Bozentko on October 6. “You can get exactly what you what to find. If you are looking for a certain kind of book, you can find it.”
A handful of sixth graders were browsing for books before the start of another period ushered them to the next class. All of the students said they prefer the library’s new organization to the system that was in place last year.
Over the summer, as the work of moving books was underway, Reed library/media specialist Pia Ledina explained that in her roughly five years at the school she had noticed student frustration when they could not find a book. She had also learned of a number of libraries using a “more bookstore-like model,” rather than the more traditional alphabetical order in fiction or nonfiction categories. Instead of continuing to use the Dewey Decimal Classification System, Ms Ledina oversaw the change to a new “genrefied” system.
Sixth grader Isabel Khazadian said she likes the new color-codes used in the library to distinguish genres.
“There’s now colors so it is easier to find the books,” said Isabel, adding that when she is looking for a book recommendation, she also likes asking her teachers or the library staff.
In the first week of school, Ms Ledina said watched as one fifth grader entered the library, signed in on the computer system, looked at the new street signs, picked out a book, pulled his library card, checked out the book, and signed out. All of that took two minutes, she said.
“That a new fifth grader could come in and do that… fantastic,” said Ms Ledina.
Some of the categories that books have been organized into include Sports Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Humor, Mystery and Suspense, and Animal Tales. Ms Ledina said placement of the genres helps students browse from one genre they like to another they may find interesting.
During one class period of the day, Ms Ledina also spoke to students about using the new system. Earlier she had shared a survey, and most of the school’s students responded. She used the survey results to reinforce the topic of using call numbers and finding a book during the class. Once the class discussed the topics, students individually went looking for books. Some students quickly sat down to read in a corner.
Reed library clerk Sarah Beier explained students use the catalog system called Destiny to look up books, research topics, and more. Students have their own accounts and they can log on to research or look up books from any computer.
At one point near the start of the year, Ms Beier said she saw one group of sixth grade students unanimously raise their hands to show that they love the new genre-based system. She also added the new system reinforces what students learn in their classrooms, as the curriculum has students learning by genres.
Ms Beier said she has also noticed increased foot traffic to the library this school year.
Ms Ledina said Reed’s library is physically big for some of the students, and organizing the books the way they did offers “little hubs” for students.
Fifth grader Matthew Pan entered the library on his own on October 6. He returned a book, then he browsed for a new book to take out.
Matthew said he likes Reed’s library because it is larger than the library at his former school, Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“It’s really good, because they have much more books than my elementary [school],” said Matthew, adding that he finds it easy to search for books, thanks to the categories.
Reed Principal Anne Uberti said the new layout offers students greater independence when selecting books, which is an educational aim at the fifth and sixth grade levels.
“I think it is great,” said Ms Uberti. “It is very kid-centered.”