How to organize/classify fiction?

One area I'm focusing on this year is the Adult Fiction section with some incomplete series and a need for new books. As I update the Adult Fiction series, I believe it beneficial to classify our fiction section differently. That is, in a more specific way -- but not too specific. 


We just went online with our library, and so we can enter more specifically  into the computer. But when people browse in our library room, I'd like to make it a bit easier to find their taste of fiction. 


What are your thoughts/experience/opinions on genre-related subdivisions in relation to adult fiction? 

I wish to keep it a bit simple, but allow for more growth in the future. 


My thoughts at this time .............. 

So what if I use the following 3 time-related terms for subdivisions on our shelves?

1. Historical -- I'd include Biblical fiction here as well as others. Almost 1/2 of the fiction? 


2. Contemporary -  We've a number of these books, including Amish, Kingsbury series and more. Almost 1/2 of the fiction? 


3. Futuristic  -- would this cover books like the Left Behind Series or Sci-Fi type books?  A smaller portion of the fiction.    Would another term work better? 


What am I missing or not thinking of? What works in your church library?

By the way -- if it helps.... our library size involves about 2,400 items. 

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  • Hello to all! Wow! It's been a couple years since I posted this and now I read and reread helpful/interesting comments. Thank you! I thought to write a follow-up on what is done, and what can easily be done. All adult fiction books are now relabeled.

    #1 Division of Sets, Standalones, & Series

    #2 Genre divisions within the Set/Standalone/Series sections: Historical & Contemporary & Speculative

    #3 Right now all are in the Set or Standalones or Series shelving and organized by alphabetization of author's surname, but easily can be changed to sit in the 3 divisions of Historical/Contemporary/Speculative.

    Call Numbers & Labels....
    ~*~ For a set of books (often with differing authors).... SET / LOV/Jud ..... SET= Set; LOV = Name of book set; Jud=author

    ~*~For Standalone books..... F/Jud..... F=Fiction; Jud = author

    ~*~For Series...... F/LOV/Jud #2....... F=Fiction; LOV=Name of series; Jud=author; #2=volume in the series
    IF a book is a trilogy printed within one book....... F/LOV/Jud #1-3 .....

    ~~*~~ Historical or Contemporary or Speculative indication: simply take an appropriate marker (Historical=blue & Contemporary=green & Speculative=yellow) and make a bold mark on left-side of the white spine label. I write in the call numbers to the right of the bold mark. Now, someone could use different colored labels instead of specialized markers.

    I hope this may help someone else. I do plan to follow-up with the Youth books this way since they sit in the same room. Not sure about the Junior books, but I may think about using an additional label or strip in the colors to indicate Historical/Contemporary/Speculative and this to be placed above the current labeled books.

    I could keep books together as to the Historical/Contemporary/Speculative division or divide the books into Historical/Contemporary/Speculative.

    Of course, more thoughts are welcome!

    Linda S
  • Two other suggestions for categorizing books. 1) Some fiction books will denote the category (i.e., 'Historical') on the back cover near the bar code. 2) When adding fiction or non-fiction to my 'Wish List' I use the category provided at the bottom of
  • We have recently separated our fiction books into categories. Our divisions are Amish, Biblical, Historical, Inspirational, Mystery/Suspense, Romance, Spiritual Warfare, and Families (that's where most of Kingsbury books are). The patrons have so little time to choose a book, before Sunday School, before and after church, and we found that more books have been checked out since the change.

    I arrange the authors alphabetically in each section, as well as use colored dots for books in a series, making sure that the series close together have different colors. Our church members LOVE the way we re-arranged them! Of course, we had a learning curve for a while, but I put an announcement in the bulletin, and we stationed a library committee member in the library during checkout times to help our members with the change.

    I realize this is not the 'correct' way to set up a library, but it works for us. Consider what your members need, and make changes as needed. It's their library and it must fit their needs.
      • Sure. What is your email address? I have an excel spreadsheet. Can you use that?
  • I agree with the advice to stay with alpha by author, and using color coded dots if a person wants to be able to see at a glance the books of a particular type. I use F and the first three letters of the author's last name for the call #, and add the first three letters of the series name and Bk.# for the call numbers of books in series. For Biblical fiction, however, I have F-BC on the first line of the call # (for Bible Characters) to place them on separate shelves than the other fiction.

    Also, I pulled most series that I don't have the complete set and am storing them in the closet (alpha by author!) until I am able to fill in the missing books. That frees up more shelf space and is less frustrating to folks who want to read only complete series.
  • I only have experience in as a high school librarian, but I am working toward creating/developing a church library where I attend church. We're blessed to have several current or past school librarians as church members, and I am so blessed to have them working with me on this project. When we met to discuss fiction organization, we have decided to "genrefy" the adult fiction. My experience with this in a school library was that it contributed toward a 30% increase of circulation after just one year. The increase has climbed every year since.

    While my school's fiction collection is of considerable size, our fiction section in the church library will have similar genres, just not as many. This is what we have considered so far: Historical fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Realistic Fiction, Relationships, and Fantasy/SciFi (Fantasy can include Narnia, Tolkien, and some Dekker).

    It does take a bit of effort to set this up. As others have mentioned in their comments, it can be subjective as to which genre you assign to a book. A story can be both about relationships AND historical fiction. That is where we consider the information seeking behavior of our patrons -- Where is this book most likely to circulate? It has also lead to some pretty neat conversations at school with students - if they see a book in one genre and they feel it fits into another one, I love chatting with them about that. Ultimately, I generally reassign the genre based on their (well-reasoned) suggestions - after all, it is THEIR library. :) There are also some instances where we have more than one copy of a book, and when that happens, we may put one copy in one genre and the copy in a different genre. (This probably won't happen as much when there are fewer copies of books and fewer genres). The good news is that, while genre can be subjective, there are tools to help make that decision - GoodReads, Subject Headings, and book vendors just to name a few.

    The positive side of this arrangement: For patrons who are not "avid readers," I find that they can talk about stories (movies or previous books read) that they liked in the past. We have a starting point for helping them find a book that will interest them. For people who do not read regularly or who do not know much about Christian authors, it is difficult to expect them to come into a library and connect with a book when the arrangement is based on author's last name. While some people can tell who their favorite authors are, many people cannot. For them, particularly, genre arrangement is a natural way to consider what one might choose to read.

    While many public libraries still arrange their fiction collections by author's last name, many book stores arrange by subject to an extent. When I am looking for ARCs to read, I can search by subject. GoodReads makes recommendations based on genres a reader has read in the past as well as genres that we select as our favorite. Organization by genre can be as complicated or as simple as we make it. We will use color coded tape on the spines to help organize the genres on the shelf. (At my school library, this helps library assistants know where to return books. It also helps us spot if a book is out of place very quickly.)
  • I think alpha by author is best I know of one school library that grouped fiction and nonfiction by age and then by subject matter it was a nightmare even the librarians didn't know where stuff went! We made some tri-fold flyers for example If you like mystery/suspense clip art then check out these authors then we listed authors and a few of their books or series. They could pick them up in couple different places around the church campus which gave them clues to what we have and was advertising at the same time as made each genre a different color
    • I would love to see a copy of your tri-fold flyers. Would it be possible to share a pdf copy?
      • posted couple photos in The Circle
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