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How I reviewed and reclassified my School Library non-fiction

Part 1Part 2Part 3

The process of moving non-fiction titles to more relevant sections of the library was actually very straightforward.

I started with the History and Geography section (900) as it is the most frequently used by students and staff.

  • I removed all the 900s and stacked them up in accessible piles on tables in the library. I also added books that were stored else where under Teacher Resources, and from the Reference Section (these books cannot be taken home).
  • I asked all the History and Geography Teachers to visit the library together for an hour and a half one afternoon, a team of seven in my case. I did this during one of the school scheduled meeting slots so I didn't negatively impact their lesson planning or teaching.
  • I asked them to move any books to a separate table that
    • Were too old, that being any book that they didn't want students to use as a resource or reference in submitted assignments because if its age and therefore inaccurate or simply unappealing content.
    • Did not or no longer align with the values of the school. I found that donated books can easily fall into this category
    • Would be better in a different section of the library. Books on Japanese Kimonos for example were better suited to Customs (300), or Fashion (600)
  • Next I asked them to pretend to be a student that has been set one of their assignments and to arrange books into piles by study themes that occur every year. This is where it became interesting. About 10-20% of the books in those piles did not have similar Dewey numbers.


Observations of this process.

Without exception the Teachers discovered books they had not seen before, with many borrowing them on the day either for personal interest or teaching.

It was the first time for teachers that had joined the school that year to become fully aware of the resources available to them.

We very quickly identified areas that required improvement. The pile for History of WW1 books for example was clearly too small for our size of school and the frequency that the topic is studied.

I encouraged Teachers to be openly critical of the collection, with a clipboard where I wrote down the kinds of texts they felt we should have. I followed this up by creating an Excel document in MS Teams where they can at anytime request a specific title, or provide a brief of what I should find.

There is not now a separate Teacher Resources section for Geography and History. Books are either in the non-fiction or reference. Separately, students have asked why they were not allowed to use Teacher Resource books, to which I replied by pulling down the sign created by the previous Librarian saying "Teachers Only". These texts are now the non-fiction or reference section. I didn't come across a single Teacher Resource book that I didn't feel a student could read if they wanted to.


The next step

Myself and the library assistant went through the pile of rejected books.

Books that would be better located in other sections were moved there. For example, rejected history books with great illustrations were moved to Art / Fashion, or Social Sciences / Traditions.

Everything else we scanned with Destiny as the data shows me if it was borrowed by a Teacher, a Student, how long ago, how many times a year and so on.

Books that remained in the rejected pile were weeded out from Destiny and boxed.


To be continued... Xmas break probably.

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Author: Hi, I’m Tim from The Magic Crayons. I am a GradDipT, CELTA, and CELTYL qualified Primary and Kindergarten Teacher from the UK working at a Tokyo International School as an English Language Support teacher (ELS/EFL). IT Integration Specialist, and Teacher Librarian. This blog reflects my Graduate Diploma in Teaching studies with the University of South Queensland, Australia, PD, and ICT in the classroom interests. I create all the artwork and videos for the teaching materials within this website. New products and special offers will be announced here first. Everything I post is about products or services that I have tried in my own classes.

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