The Debate on Genre Separation

My friend Sarah is a librarian at an elementary school. She’s been working on this big project, suggested by the kids, to separate all the books into their respective fiction genres.

She even let the kids pick out what genres they wanted (such as “animal fiction”). Now that’s a good librarian.

I highly approve of said project, because I also prefer my genres to be separated out. As a kid, I used to roam the stacks, looking specifically for the telltale “fantasy” and “science fiction” stickers they use to differentiate genre. It was a bit frustrating.

So count me in. I would live in a science fiction/fantasy section.

But then I got to thinking. One of the biggest complaints against the traditional publishing industry is that if they can’t figure out where it’ll go on a shelf, they won’t buy a story, no matter how good it is. It doesn’t quite work here, because a library wouldn’t reject a book based on a strange genre; they’d just put it in the general literature section.

But a magical realism book might get shelved general literature over science fiction/fantasy, and then a potential reader might never find it if they didn’t venture outside their chosen genre.

And, one could argue, it’s kind of fun to wander the stacks, pulling out books with neat titles or fun covers and seeing which ones catch your fancy. Heck, I got into fantasy that way. Pulled the Sword of Shannara off my elementary school’s library shelf and haven’t looked back since.

So, Squiders, how do you feel about separating genres at the library? Want all your scifi/fantasy, mystery, romance in convenient boxes? Prefer to have everything all mixed together? How does your local library have things set up, and what would you change?


Pay no attention to this bit. Just doing some internet bookkeeping. 6K7GGUJQHTWX

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Christopher Long on 2013/08/22 at 9:57 PM

    Hey, I’d be in favor of *sub*-genre separation, even.

    I read both sci-fi and fantasy, but I’m MUCH more likely to read urban fantasy than any other variety, and I prefer my sci-fi soft and character oriented. As easy as they want to make it for me to find what I want, I’m game.

    Because if I find what I want faster… I can spend more time reading!


  2. If I’m looking for something specific, that’s what the catalog search is for. My library has things all mixed up and it’s the way I like it. No telling what I’ll stumble on!


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