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Penticton Secondary

 Moving day. All the books have already been relabeled.

 A Five Month Process

The most common question I get as a teacher librarian is, "Do you have another book like...?"  Put that together with my arrival in a new library, and the need to get to know a  collection that includes over 16,000 volumes and I had the perfect reason to try Genre-fication. For years, I have been reading about it and the advantages it provides. Plus, the design of the beautiful Pen High library seemed to cry out for it. The fiction section is shelved around the perimeter of an immense round room, making it necessary to walk a long way in  search of that perfect book when one is browsing for a particular genre.

So, back in January, I began.  Starting with the A authors in the Fiction section and using Goodreads, Titlewave and Wikipedia, I searched up each title and slotted it into one of the fifteen different genres that we finally settled on. While I was at it, I added a line on the spine label if the book was a part of a series. That way when students ask what the next book is, we can all see the answer instantly. Also, we added stickers for short stories, novels in verse, stories with LGBTQ+ characters, Indigenous and Ally authors, and books that have been made into a movie.


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  •  Stories that are intended to be HUMOROUS and make the reader LAUGH.


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  • Stories that didn't really happen, but COULD happen in real life.  These stories include characters who face a challenge, learn lessons, and possibly change.


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  • Stories about life issues; personal, societal and global. The problems are unsolvable but the characters try to rise above them. We have tissues for issues.



  •  Stories about a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with LOVE. An expressive and pleasurable feeling from an EMOTIONAL ATTRACTION towards another person.  


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  • Stories that focus on ROMANCE and ROMANTIC LOVE and include elements beyond the range of scientific explanation, blending together themes from the speculative genres of FANTASY, SCI-FI and HORROR.


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  • Stories which intend to, or have the capacity to FRIGHTEN, SCARE, DISGUST, or STARTLE the reader by inducing feelings of HORROR or TERROR.  


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  • Stories that focus on POVERTY, public MISTRUST, and SUSPICION, a POLICE STATE or OPPRESSION.


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  •  Stories that could not happen in real life and may take place in the  FUTURE with  FUTURISTIC SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY.



  • Fictional story that involve events that could NOT happen in real life (because we can't figure out how magic works).


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  •  Stories that did not really happen, but are based on HISTORICAL EVENTS.


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  • Books based on a assortment of genres.  The stories have stood the test of time and the work is usually considered to be a representation of the period in which it was written; the work merits lasting recognition.


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  • Stories based on TRAGEDY that depict a CONFLICT between people, countries, and nations. 


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  • Stories that  portray characters who are in or part of the sporting community; athletes, coaches, managers etc.

ACTION (Thriller, Adventure & Survival)

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  •  Stories with an emphasis on exciting action sequences and stories of adventure & survival.


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  •  Suspenseful stories about  puzzling events that are not solved until the end of the story. 


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  •  Stories that are presented in comic-strip format. Not only do we have a large collection of Manga, there is also a large selection of narrative non-fiction. 


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  • Stories are written to grab the reader quickly and pull them through to the end. Authors are required to use action driven dialogue, avoid long boring descriptions and keep it around 100 pages.



  • Books in the Indigenous section have characters who are Indigenous to North America, written by Indigenous authors or by authors who have shown reciprocity by acknowledging that they gained their knowledge from an Indigenous person.

Time to Make a Move

As we worked through the alphabet (there were only 5000 books in the fiction section), we used the opportunity to weed out unpopular books and do inventory at the same time. When everything was finally re-labled (thanks to all the fine taping skills of our peer tutors, Hannah, Emily, Monaka, Ciara, and Abigail), we were ready for the big move. The idea was to make a section for each genre.

Signage was important and we decided on papier mache street signs, trimmed in purple with a golden pole to match our school colours. As soon as the blank signs were ready, Emily began to design and paint each genre. When the year finished, we still had plenty of signs to do so Kate took over and Ms. Steiger has painted a few too.

On moving day, we each chose a book trolley and began moving books from the shelves to every available surface. We set them in sections and kept them in alphabetical order by author. As the shelves began to empty out, we cleaned them and then started putting the books back in the new order.

So far, the reviews are good. People find it easy to figure out and like that they can find similar books on nearby shelves. For us, it has actually made the shelving easier because there are fewer authors with the same call number in each section.

All in all, I think our Genre-fication project has been a grand success. Now it is time to take a look at the Non-fiction collection. There are only about 11,000 volumes to consider there. We should have it done in no time!