Teacher Melissa Falkowski and small group of students take on project to organize MSD’S library

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Elizabeth Sheehy

Organization station. MSD teacher Melissa Falkowski reorganizes the school library with the help of volunteers. The final goal is to accurately categorize every book so they can easily be located by students and staff.

Brynn Schwartz, Writer

Since September, media specialist Diana Haneski, newspaper adviser Melissa Falkowski and several student volunteers have been working to sort and sticker books by genre in the media center. Haneski launched the project after noticing students struggling to browse books over the past few years.

“I’ve been [a media specialist] for many decades, and I saw the frustration in the students when they couldn’t find something in the genre they liked because everything was A to Z and all together by author’s last name,” Haneski said. “I realized, working in the library, that it’s much better if you help the people looking for the book themselves, so they can help themselves. If you wanted a fantasy book, I could be like, ‘Look, they’re all here,’ and you could start looking at the shelves.”

With a few volunteers, Falkowski is hoping to make the media center’s books more accessible to students by organizing the area in a way that resembles a bookstore. This would be done by organizing the books by genre, a practice known as genrefication.

“I bring my classes in every quarter to check out books, and sometimes it is hard to find what they are looking for in the collection,” Falkowski said. “It was arranged alphabetically, and if you didn’t have a specific author in mind, it was hard for students to browse.”

Previously, with the Dewey decimal system, books were arranged alphabetically. Students browsing the fiction section would have to pull a book off the shelf with a cover that appealed to them and read the summary to see if it interested them, or they had to have a specific author in mind. The reorganization will help students browse books based on the genre of books they prefer to read. The books are being sorted into realistic fiction, science fiction, mystery/thriller, historical fiction, fantasy, paranormal, sports and classics sections.

Despite the ultimate payoff for both students and media staff, the process is quite tedious, requiring reading the back of the book and the summary to figure out the genre. Occasionally, the team will consult Amazon, Goodreads or Haneski herself if they are unsure of the genre.

When the genre is determined, a sticker with words or a graphic is placed on the spine to differentiate it between the different genres.

The team is made up of Falkowski, as well as select students that help sort and categorize the books into one of the eight sections. The students that help most often include seniors Gabi Bravo, Reese Lansman, Amira Mohamed and Sarah Nikaj.

“Right now, there are only a handful of students helping,” Falkowski said. “It’s not open for general volunteering because you have to be well-read and be able to recognize the characteristics of the different genres.”

Falkowski and the students work on burgundy days during fifth, sixth and eighth periods.

“I’m her [teacher assistant], so I started helping her with this,” senior Sarah Nikaj said. “It’s almost every time I’m in her class to TA. Sometimes the books aren’t there, but every time they are, we’re doing it.”

The project is almost completed and students entering the library can see how the majority of the shelves are organized by genre, with stickers to show.

“I can already walk through the library and see them organized by section,” Nikaj said.

Currently, Falkowski and the volunteers are on the letter “w” and will complete the project in early January.