Throughout the school day, the Milne Library is the central hub of student life, shared by upperclassmen and middle school students alike. At any given time, students can be found calling into an online Malone course in one of the conference rooms, collaborating at the table pods, or lounging on the Hogwarts-themed cushions. Ms. Jipson, our beloved librarian of 40 years, consistently works to keep the space dynamic and diversified, which entails staying on top of trends at the intersection of media and technology.
With the ongoing updates to campus, curriculum, and schedule, it’s only fitting that the library is experiencing parallel changes to ensure that it continues to meet the evolving needs of an evolving school while building upon our community’s established strengths. Ms. Jipson’s latest project is “genrefying” the shelves that house nearly 20,000 volumes. “The idea of genrefying is to group books of the same genre together,” she shares. “Right now the fiction books are arranged by the author's last name, and many of our patrons don't think about books that way. They know they'd like something like Hunger Games, but they don't think to look at books by Collins, for example.”
The inspiration to genrefy was sparked last year by Sawyer Strong ‘18, who undertook an ISP “virtually re-arranging the library, and making suggestions to update the space,” as well as recommendations by a library consultant who works as a college professor specializing in the field of school libraries. After visiting several other libraries as part of his research, Sawyer informed Ms. Jipson that “other libraries have seen their circulation soar” as a result of genrefication. With these findings in mind, organizing books by genre seemed like a beneficial step forward for the Derryfield library.
As the nonfiction books are already arranged by subject rather than author’s last name in keeping with the Dewey Decimal system, Ms. Jipson and her crew of volunteers are focusing their efforts on the fiction collection. Before they get to work, though, Ms. Jipson points out that “we need to weed the collection. Why re-arrange books that are not even being used?” You may have noticed recent posters hanging around the Upper School advertising a book drive in the library--many volumes that hadn’t been checked out in years were given away for free! The next steps include putting genre stickers on the books and then physically rearranging the shelves.
These library-specific changes have implications that ripple throughout the School and into the world outside Derryfield. According to Ms. Jipson, genrefication has the potential to encourage students to read more, and “I believe that reading long narrative helps concentration, helps vocabulary, helps general knowledge, helps develop empathy, imagination, creativity, and...is fun!” But the mission of the library is not restricted to fostering a love of reading, and Ms. Jipson stresses that it is crucial to also share “knowledge of how best to navigate modern technology's delivery of information via the internet and social media.” In an age in which fake news threatens the integrity of our democracy, “schools and school libraries have a paramount mission to educate students so they are informed and aware.”