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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What about  . . . 

1. Historical 

2. Contemporary

3. Timeless ...........????? 

HISTORICAL --- this comprises at least 1/2 of our collection 

CONTEMPORARY ---  this comprises of almost 1/2 of our collection 

TIMELESS --- would be a small portion of our collection and includes books such as Pilgrim's Progress as well as Left Behind Series. Sci-Fi, Supernatural, and  Prophecy/End Times would be sub-genres in this section. 

I think that The Library store, and Brodart have spine labels in different categories.   I would continue to classify as fiction (F) or (FIC), and put a regular spine label on them, but add the additional label for Historical Fiction, romance, etc.  Check the catalogs.  I know I've seen them.  I can't imagine going to several different sections to a prolific author like Beverly Lewis, or Karen Kingsbury.   I MHO, I would like to see them all together in alpha order.   The other way you can assist your clientele in finding something they like, it to put enough subject tracings (broad and specific) to guide them to the type of books they are looking to read.    It also helps if your staff have read some of these, and can report what they thought about it.   Just thoughts.   

I agree with Martha.  Keeping fiction grouped by author helps people find everything together by one they like.  And some authors write in different genres.  Using colored labels on the spine (even if it's just different colored dots with a legend posted somewhere) would help guide patrons to similar genres by different authors they could explore.  Specific subject headings and knowledgeable staff are also very helpful.

Thank you, Martha and Wendy. 

I value your opinions. 

It does make sense to at least identify books somehow as to its genre and I understand your point about keeping books together by author. I'll continue to process your input. Thanks. 

FYI: Our library operates as an "open" library in the sense that it's self-directed. Although we're there on Sunday morning, the church doors open the rest of the week if a group happens to meet. Lots of meetings happen in homes and our church is not "staffed" during the week. 

We group our Fiction books by author. If it is a series by one author we color code with a dot. Say for instance, "Deadly Proof" by Rachel Dylan is a green dot with the # 1 written on it in black sharpie. The next book in the series will have the same color dot but with a # 2.

If an author has multiple series like Gilbert Morris, we use different colored dots for each series. Our library readers love this system because it lets them know what to read next.

It is a lot of work, because I've done it all, but it is well worth it.

Thanks, Janet, for your input. I love how you worked out a system for your readers. I know, depending on how we shelve the books, browsing will go so much better. 

One of the first things I did was to separate the stand-alone books from the series. This seems to help tremendously! But while observing some people and talking with them, it seems like I should do something more. 

I started to go thru the fiction series and labeling the # as part of the call number, like you do. 

According to your experience, colors help with better browsing. In that note, I'm contemplating tinted label protectors for Historical fiction & Contemporary fiction.

It helps to compare notes, thanks. 


I just want to clarify as to how we label our fiction books. Please note that I'm changing the call numbers and am now ready to relabel all fiction books in order to bring consistency. Right now all fiction books have "E" and the author's first 3 letters of the surname whether it's a stand-alone or in a series. Also, the majority of spine labels are faded and need replaced. Thus, I wish to re-think the classification process for fiction. 

Current System in the Works

We organize fiction books accordingly by author's surname and then by the book title if stand-alone. If part of a series, the book is placed in its numerical order within the series and the series are alphabetically placed according to its series title.

On the spine label . . . 

F  and then the first 3 letters of the author's surname.

If it's in a series, then . .  .


*first 3 letters of the author's surname    

*3 letters (capitalized) from the series title  

*the number in which the book comes in the series 

We now have the fiction stand-alone books sectioned together and the fiction series sectioned together. In addition to this, I'm thinking about sectioning the fiction in its own Historical Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, or some type of "other" section. I know at least some at our church choose to read fiction books as to time periods as well as by the author. 

So one method would be to indicate on its label as if the fiction book is Historical or Contemporary with tinted label protectors or simply pencil in its inside cover/page. Also, I'd make available the "key" to the tinted label protectors. 

I could leave the books as they are now -- divided between stand-alone and series while placed according to author. Another idea would be to section the fiction books further according to its historical perspective, which would remain optional if I were to use tinted label protectors. 

I appreciate the kindness of responses and the privilege to "think out loud" here with people who understand. Thank you. 

Quick update -- just in case anyone is interested . . . 

***We write out call numbers on white labels & then cover with clear protective labels. 

As I process fiction books, they shall be labeled as above plus a colored marker line hugging one side of the label as such: 

Historical =  Blue

Contemporary = Green 

To further be decided, but most likely . . . 

Visionary = Yellow

Still deciding and researching about genre title for books like "Left Behind" series or John White's books as well as Pilgrim's Progress.  Visionary? Futuristic? Speculatory? ........ Leaning toward Visionary at this time. 


*Cost effective for our limited library budget (only additional colored permanent markers needed)

*Remains optional to keep authors arranged alphabetically OR to be placed per genre

*Easy to change spine labels later if it ever should be needed 

*Easy Fiction Genre Code for patrons to follow

Again, thanks for the "listening" ear. I took the previous comments into consideration, and so plan to leave the genres together by author, but the colored line on the spine will clue in those who wish to specifically read according to Historically or Contemporary.   

I think you should arrange by author.  Then prepare some reading lists or bookmarks by category.  Have these lists available for your readers.

Thank you, Sue. 

I do plan to still arrange by author, but only the spine labels will show by one colored mark to the side of its particular genre. 

That's a great idea about lists. Maybe copies of the particular genres can be generated off of our online listings. I also like the ideas of bookmarks. 

Sue Hardin's  suggestions are excellent and offer a good option for our library users to keep a record of what they have read!

My main thought is reading all of your ideas, Linda, is this: 

How will you document all of these processing actions, so that you can train new team members as they are added, or in the case of other unforeseen events such as a prolonged illness or a sudden move by the team leader or the like?

Sandra, you make a valid and excellent point. When I started a few years back as librarian, no documentation as to procedure was put together. Thus, this wonderful group of church librarians became incredibly helpful to me. 

So now as I figure this all out and as I work to streamline our library, I've been writing down our processes. I hope that if another librarian who is starting out reads this, she/he will see this key point of documenting procedure --- and hopefully document simply. 

Thanks, Sandra. 



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