Monday, July 2, 2012

Reorganizing our children's collections: I Want a Truck Book!

Once in a while, a conference session will light a spark that stays with you beyond the time spent listening to the speakers. The session I Want a Truck Book! at last week's ALA conference has stayed with me, as I think about this fascinating presentation time and time again. Gretchen Caserotti, Deborah Cooper and Tali Balas Kaplan shared their experiences reorganizing their children’s collections to meet the needs of young patrons. Each approached the challenge of reorganizing their collections to help children find books intuitively and easily. They shared their experiences working with public and school libraries.

I'm fascinated by the way these librarians are thinking outside the box, considering how children and parents want to browse for books. As Gretchen said, in the library there are browsers and seekers. The seekers will find what they need with a specific call number from the library's catalog. But how do browsers find books they're interested in? Really, it's by finding books that are like other books they've read. Gretchen used the opportunity of the reopening of the Darien Library in 2008 to completely reorganize the picture books for young children - grouping together picture books by topic rather than just alphabetically by author.
F5 Glade; Transportation
So here you can see that the Darien Library groups all of their transportation picture books together. This section has Smash! Crash!, Revenge of the DinoTrux, and Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site. They have included fiction and nonfiction picture books for their youngest children (ages 0 - 5) in their glades. So you'll also find Gail Gibbon's Truck book in the same transportation section. But public libraries aren't the only ones looking at this change.

Tali Balas Kaplan shared her experience reorganizing the school library at The Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York, NY. They have integrated fiction and nonfiction in their collection, organizing the entered collection around 26 large topics. So Loren Long's book Otis is in their Cars section, along with Kate & Jim McMullen's I Stink and Seymour Simon's Book of Trucks.

Today I'm writing a guest post over at the ALSC Blog. Head over there to find out more about these projects! I'm fascinated to hear what parents and librarians think of this approach.

©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.


  1. As a parent and teacher, I like this approach. All the transportation books together is a great idea. This is similar to what teachers do in their classroom libraries.

  2. Oh, wow, my 3-year old grandson and I would love to have this type organization of the public library branch we visit! Fascinating!

  3. I have my fiction by genre and nonfiction by subject and the kids love it. I'm at a middle school. You can read about it on my blog the Eliterate Librarian. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hello,

    My name is John and I have a quick question about your blog! Could you please email me?


  5. I am not a teacher, but I am a parent and a children's book author. I love this type of organization. It is great to help children find books of a certain type and hopefully help them become organized adults.