Students at Forestview Middle School can now hunt for library books based on genre, and the new system is proving beneficial so far.

Chris Kelly, a media specialist for Brainerd Public Schools told board members Wednesday, Nov. 13, the reclassification, which happened over the summer, has made browsing easier for students, increased their independence in the library and bumped up circulation.

In June, Kelly and other library staff took all the fiction books -- about 10,000 -- in the library at the middle school off the shelves and put them into the following categories: adventure, classics, dystopian, fantasy, graphic novels, historical fiction, horror, humor, mystery, quick reads, realistic fiction, romance, science fiction, sports fiction, story collections, supernatural and thriller.

“When kids came in there, one of the biggest concerns that they always had was they couldn’t find where their books were. They’d ask me to help them find books, and I’d use my background knowledge to help them find books,” Kelly said. “But now that we’ve ‘genre-fied’ it, they can say ‘this is my section’ and go right to it.”

With the library now modeled similar to a bookstore, Kelly said she has seen immediate positive effects on students after training them to use the new system in September. Kids still need to know the author’s name of the book they’re looking for but can now narrow their search by the genre.

“It’s so much easier for the kids to find books that they love to read,” she said. “It’s astounding to watch them walk in and not wander around. They go right to the humor section, or they go right to the sports section, and they grab their books out there. So it’s created an independence that we aren’t constantly having to show kids where books are.”

For the months of September and October, circulation rates went up 8% from the previous year, meaning kids are checking out more books.

And for Kelly and library staff, the reclassification was a good way to take an inventory of the library’s books and get rid of any outdated or unused materials. Kelly said they weeded out about 5,000 books that were either falling apart, out of date or hadn’t been checked out within the last two years. Students and teachers got to take their pick of those books.

“I just think all around it’s been a great user experience,” Kelly said.

Next, she will work with Brainerd High School to implement the same system and plans to move on to the elementary schools next year.

In other business Wednesday, the school board:

Approved new hires to the district: Katie Annand, nurse at Forestview Middle School; Leanne Bock, paraprofessional at Riverside Elementary; Clinton Headley, assistant wrestling coach at Forestview; Ruby Hopp, lacrosse coach at Brainerd High School; Mick Langer, food service at Forestview; and Amy Tibbetts, food service at BHS.

Accepted a donation of $872.25 from DonorsChoose.org for flexible seating at Baxter Elementary.

Approved a $1 lease with The Center for greenhouse space at the school farm for 2019-20.

Approved a land survey proposal from Widseth Smith Nolting for professional land survey services and minor subdivision platting for sections of the new Baxter early childhood center, Oscar Kristofferson Park and Baxter Cemetery, contingent upon approval from the Baxter City Council for shared lease and easement agreements and other associated costs. The services will not exceed $16,950 and will help clean up the underlying title issues with the property around the new early childhood center, create a new plat to simplify legal descriptions and provide clear guidance on easement locations for the future.

Nominated board member Charles Black Lance to run for a spot on the Sub-Region III Sourcewell Board of Directors.

Approved the acquisition of property at 623 Fourth Ave. NE, a property near Lowell Elementary, after discussing the matter in a closed session.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa.