Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

Revamping our fiction shelves

With all this talk about our nonfiction section, it may sound like I am leaving our fiction shelves to fend for themselves.

I haven’t, I promise. It’s just that when it comes to fiction, my Teacher Librarian and I are already doing a lot. Next year’s plan is to do more of the same. In other words, to keep:

  • Creating looping slideshows to promote new and under-appreciated fiction books in the collection
  • Posting oddly specific genre-bending book recommendation lists on the wall and in my Ms. Shala Recommends binder in response to student requests
  • Talking to students about great books they’ve read, the books we’re reading, movies and shows based on books, and/or the kind of book they are looking for next
  • Creating custom book lists and/or book stacks for students who want to have more than just two or three options to choose from
  • Creating book-themed bulletin boards
  • Posting Staff Picks notes on the shelves similar to the ones you find in a bookstore highlighting the favorite books of librarians, admin, teachers, and even certain English classes
  • Highlighting new arrivals by displaying them on the New Arrivals Cart and by regularly updating a bulletin board dedicated solely to promoting new books

The main difference next year will be that I have rearranged the fiction shelves as well.

The goal: rebalance the shelves so that they are all roughly 2/3rds full. Then, make use of the new space to increase the number of forward-facing books and to make it easier for students to identify books in a series and/or our entire collection of books by popular and prolific authors like Holly Goldberg Sloan, Kelly Yang, and Neal Schusterman.

Our fiction shelves before

Our fiction shelves before were mostly filled with books stored spine-out. Here and there we had room to set one forward-facing book on the shelves, but mostly we relied on having 12 books displayed on the top of each shelf.
Our fiction shelves as they appeared at the start of the 2021-2022 school year. (Photo: Shala Howell)

As you can see, last school year, most of our fiction books were stored in alphabetical order by author, spine-out for easy shelving. There were some forward-facing books in the shelves themselves, but we mostly relied on the 12 books on display on top of each stack to do the bulk of the passive book promotion.

Our fiction shelves now, sort of

After rebalancing the shelves, I was able to fit two forward-facing books per shelf. The shelves themselves still have a lot of spine-out books, but instead of one long row of several dozen spine-out books, I have made the spine-out sections much smaller (15 books maximum). Some spine-out sections are dedicated to books in a series or books by the same author, so have only 3-6 books in them.
The rebalanced fiction shelves as they appeared just before the library closed for the summer. (Photo: Shala Howell)

Before closing the library for the summer, I rearranged all of the fiction books so that the vast majority of the shelves would have two forward-facing books on display. I also set off books in a series and/or books by the same author by themselves.

You can see this best on the bottom left hand shelf in the above picture. That shelf has been broken up into three sections. The first section contains books by various authors in alphabetical order by last name. In the middle is a collection of books by Kwame Alexander. The final section in the shelf contains the Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander, displayed in order, with the first book of the series facing out.

We still have a lot of spine-out books, but I’m hoping that breaking up the long rows of spine-out books into shorter collections of books will make it easier for students to find their next read.

(Fear not, although this photo doesn’t show them, we are still going to have the 12 books per stack displayed on top. We store them in the stacks for the summer, though, and we had already done that by the time I took this photo.)

I am excited for this new arrangement, and at the same time, worried that it will make shelving entirely too complicated for my student helpers to manage next year. I guess it will be a learning experience all around.

As always, I’ll report back. At the very least, we’ll see in next year’s End of the Year Library Report, whether all this rearranging and showcasing actually does increase our circulation numbers.

In other news, school starts next week

Grad school for me starts August 1, and my work at the middle school resumes on August 5. All of which means that I am about to hit another dry spell here posting-wise at Caterpickles Central. Please bear with me. I will post as often as I can. Until then, stay safe, be well, and thank you for reading Caterpickles.

Related Links:

2 Responses to “Revamping our fiction shelves”

    • Shala Howell

      Thank you! As my daughter would say, I have two feelings about this: excited and so concerned that I have forgotten all the tricks associated with successful structured learning. Fingers crossed!



What are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: