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NoveList Digs into Genres and Does Some Weeding

Post by Cathleen Keyser
Posted February 05, 2014 in NoveList K-8 Plus, NoveList Plus

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It's great to hear how many people are excited about the genre work we've been doing here at NoveList. We've gotten lots of feedback and some interesting questions. One issue in particular that we have gotten questions on is weeding. 

Our goal is to reflect a typical library's collection, but unlike most libraries, our space for books is essentially infinite. These two factors put us in an unusual position in regard to weeding.  Every library has a different weeding policy, which means that some titles held in a number of libraries are gone in others, making the creation of a "typical" library collection a challenge. But this challenge, not to mention our lack of space constraints, doesn’t give us a free pass when it comes to improving the relevancy, consistency, and cohesiveness of our collection. 

Late last year, we created a team to work on developing and carrying out a weeding plan, focused solely on our nonfiction collection. In weeding nonfiction, we take into account several well-known criteria -- weeding titles that have proven to be misleading or factually inaccurate or canceled by the publisher. We also replace titles that have been superseded by a newer edition or a better treatment of the subject, particularly in the juvenile collection which is tied strongly to school curricula and learning goals. Because our focus in adult nonfiction has been on selected, narrative nonfiction, we have additional criteria for keeping or weeding particular titles. For example, we will retain an older biography when its narrative style is outstanding or its author merits continuing esteem (Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians is still worth the attention of biography-lovers for its style and its approach, even 95 years after publication).

As we work our way through the collection, we will also be giving our nonfiction "genres" a critical eye to see which ones are working, what new trends are emerging, and which of these might need a little TLC.

We are hoping that our work -- both in selection and in weeding -- will increase the relevancy and discoverability of our collection, which in turn will give you a better experience in finding the books you want.

So far, we’ve vetted Adventure nonfiction and Humor writing and we are currently working on Food writing. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please drop us a line!