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Library Labels Explained:
what they mean & where to find them

The North Douglas Library District uses a variety of spine labels to help organize the materials within our physical collection and quickly convey information to both library staff and visitors.

Learn about the different labels the library uses below. 

 

Did you know you can suggest changes? If you read a title and think it belongs better under a different fiction genre or nonfiction category, let a library staff member know.

 

Want to recommend a purchase? Send purchase suggestions (such as a title, author, or specific topic) here or let a library staff member know during your next visit.

 

Looking for your next great read but don’t know where to start? Contact the Mildred Whipple Library to receive a curated list of library items specific to your reading interests.


Still have questions? Contact the Mildred Whipple Library.

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Library Terminology

Target Audiences:

Juvenile: Geared for readers from birth through elementary school.

in-beTWEEN: Geared for readers in middle school.

Young Adult: Geared for readers in high school.

Adult: Geared for readers 18+.

 

Formats:

Board Book: Geared for newborn babies to around 2 years old and intended to be read aloud. Board books have thick paperboard pages to combat wear and tear from baby hands and mouths. There may be more interactive elements to these books such as cloth, noise, or popups to engage a baby or allow the reader to make the story more exciting.

 

Picture Book: Fiction and nonfiction titles intended to be read aloud that feature a blend of full-page illustrations with minimal text.

 

Early Reader: Geared for newly independent readers that are structured similar to chapter books but with limited vocabulary and lots of illustrations. 

 

Fiction: Learning through imagination. Titles can - and often do - tackle real world themes and subjects but through a fictional lens.

 

Nonfiction: Learning through information. Titles include real world people and events and include research and references. In the North Douglas Library District, Young Adult Nonfiction titles are geared specifically for teen readers while Juvenile Nonfiction titles tend to broadly introduce information and Adult Nonfiction titles expand on detailed subjects.

 

Graphic Novels: A format of book that tells a story in a long-form work of sequential art. Graphic novels can be fiction or nonfiction and are shelved by target audience.

 

Manga: An umbrella term for a style of Japanese comic books and graphic novels. Manga is read from top to bottom and right to left.


Large Print: Refers to the formatting of a book where the font is at least 18 points in size (instead of the 12-16 point font typically published). Large Print books can be fiction or nonfiction and geared for any age of reader.

Picture Books

Where to find these labels: Look for these labels directly above the white spine label.

Adventure.HEIC
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Adventure: Books with themes of imagination, exploration, creativity, & play. Also includes word play and puzzle stories.

Animals: All animal books, from pets to wild animals.

Beliefs: Includes religion, folklore, and mythology-based stories.

 

Celebrations & Holidays: Special events such as weddings, celebrations, and parties, along with books themed around specific holidays and events. Look for labels for: Celebrations (general), Christmas, Dia de los Muertos, Diwali, Earth Day, Easter, Groundhog Day, Halloween, Hanukkah, Holiday (general), Juneteenth, Kwanzaa, Lunar New Year, New Year, Passover, Ramadan, St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, and more.

 

Characters: Books asked for by name (such as Disney, Marvel, Pigeon, Pig the Pug, etc.).

 

Concepts: Shapes, numbers, letters, colors, time, etc.

 

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Emotions: Feelings and dealing with emotions.

 

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Experiences: Bedtime, school, moving, etc.

 

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Food: Gardening and meal time.

 

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Growing Up: Changing bodies, identities, life lessons, & childhood experiences.

 

Humor: Books meant to be silly.

 

Nature: Plants, seasons, weather, outdoors, space, etc.

 

Objects & Things: Transportation, technology, books about books, etc.

 

 

 

 


People: Family, friends & friendships, and famous people.

 

Places: Specific locations (ie. U.S., maps, Oregon, home, etc.).

 

Society & Culture: Social justice, world cultures, sports, history, politics, etc.

 

Stories: General category for stories that don’t fit well into the other categories.

Fiction

Jump to a section: Adventure, Comfort, Dystopian, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Horror, Literary, Magical Realism, Mystery, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal, Realistic, Religious Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Suspense, Thriller, Western


Authors can write in multiple genres. Titles are shelved by author last name, not by genre.

Where to find these labels: Look for these labels below the white spine label.

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Adventure

Sections Used In: Juvenile Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: High-action fiction that usually include danger, survival themes, or gives the reader a sense of excitement.

Example Titles:

  • Juvenile: Just Keep Walking by Erin Soderberg Downing; Hatchet by Gary Paulsen; The Wild Robot by Peter Brown


 

Comfort

Sections Used In: Juvenile Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: Light-hearted stories that do not contain graphic violence and are quick to read. While specific comfort reads vary between readers, this genre typically includes cheer, humor, kindness, and warmth that readers seek out again and again.

Example Titles:

  • Juvenile: A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond; Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

  • Young Adult: Austenland by Shannon Hale

  • Adult: Welcome to the Hyunam-Dong Bookshop by Hwang Bo-Reum; Crow Talk by Eileen Garvin; The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man by Jonas Jonasson

Dystopian

Sections Used In: Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: Opposite of utopian, where life in fictional worlds is terrible due to deprivation, oppression, and/or terror, and human society is characterized by human misery (such as squalor, oppression, disease, overcrowding, environmental destruction, and/or war).

Example Titles:

  • Young Adult: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; Sky’s End by Marc J Gregson; Legend by Marie Lu

  • Adult: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood; A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher; Red Clocks by Leni Zumas


 

Fantasy

Sections Used In: Juvenile Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: Fiction that is often characterized by a departure from the accepted rules by which individuals perceive the world around them; it represents that which is impossible (unexplained) and outside the parameters of our known reality. Generally this genre relies on a reader's suspension of disbelief, is set in a fictional universe, and contains unrealistic settings, magic, and/or beings.

Example Titles:

  • Juvenile: Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Alberto Hernandez; The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton; Warriors by Erin Hunter

  • Young Adult: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin; Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor; The Bone Spindle by Leslie Vedder

  • Adult: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin; Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse; The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien


 

Historical Fiction

Sections Used In: Juvenile Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: Transports readers to another time and place, either real or imagined, where a specific time period (and its depiction, including: settings, characters, events, and/or major political or social events) are at the core of the story.

Example Titles:

  • Juvenile: Rover by Jackie French; Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry; A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck

  • Young Adult: Last Night At The Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo; Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys; The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters

  • Adult: River East, River West by Aube Rey Lescure; Good Night, Irene by Luís Alberto Urrea; The Color Purple by Alice Walker


 

Horror

Sections Used In: Juvenile Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: Fiction intended to scare, unsettle, or horrify the reader. Horror primarily evokes fear through the protagonists' weaknesses or inability to deal with the antagonists. While horror may contain supernatural elements, it relies on morbid, gruesome, surreal, suspenseful and/or frightening themes. 

Example Titles:

  • Juvenile: Jumbies Series by Tracey Baptiste; Creepers Series by Edgar J. Hyde; Goosebumps Series by R.L. Stine

  • Young Adult: White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson; #MurderTrending by Gretchen McNeil; The Sacrifice Box by Martin J. Stewart

  • Adult: Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice; Pet Sematary by Stephen King; Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill


Literary

Sections Used In: Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: Literary fiction often includes slower-paced, character-driven stories, poetic or flowery language, an unusual story structure and/or writing style, complex themes, highly original and/or intellectual ideas, and/or not-so-simple and/or less-than-happy endings.

Example Titles:

  • Young Adult: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

  • Adult: Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo; Tom Lake by Ann Patchett; The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade.


 

Magical Realism

Sections Used In: Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: Books in the magical realism genre contain aspects of magic in an otherwise normal, realistic environment. Stories often use a parallel magical world (sometimes hidden, sometimes not) to intertwine with the real world.

Example Titles:

  • Young Adult: Pet by Akwaeke Emezi; Dig by A.S. King; We Speak In Storms by Natalie Lund; 

  • Adult: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez; Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami; Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq


 

Mystery

Sections Used In: Juvenile Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: Fiction where the primary focus is on a puzzling crime, situation, or circumstance that needs to be solved. Mystery stories reveal a crime and the reader works alongside the protagonist to figure out the "who" and the "why". 

Example Titles:

  • Juvenile: Escape From Mr. Limoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein; Greenglass House by Kate Milford; A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snickett

  • Young Adult: The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes; Paper Towns by John Green; Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price

  • Adult: Finlay Donovan Series by Elle Cosimano; Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich; Kinsey Millhone Series by Sue Grafton


Cozy Mystery

Sections Used In: Adult Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: A specific subgenre of mystery fiction in which graphic violence and explicit romance occur off the page and where the detective is typically an amateur sleuth and the events take place in a small community.

Example Titles: 

  • Adult: A Cop & A Coop by Hillary Avis; Miss Marple Series by Agatha Christie; Pawsitively Poisonous by Melissa Erin Jackson


 

Mystery/Thriller

Sections Used In: Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: Use when the primary genre could easily be either Mystery or Thriller. See also Thriller.

Example Titles: 

  • Young Adult: Ace of Spades by Faridah Abike-Iyimide; The Ivies by Alexa Donne; Two Truths & A Lie by April Henry

  • Adult: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Series by Louise Penny; The Investigator by John Sandford; Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline


 

Paranormal 

Sections Used In: Juvenile Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: Encompasses stories that include experiences that defy scientific explanation and are generally set in the real world. Common elements include: ghosts, vampires, demons, witches, etc. 

Example Titles:

  • Juvenile: The Girl & the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf; The Supernatural Society by Rex Ogle; The Odds by Lindsay Puckett

  • Young Adult: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer; All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue; The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

  • Adult: The Sentence by Louise Erdrich; Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia; The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna


 

Realistic

Sections Used In: Juvenile Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: Also known as contemporary, this genre includes stories that could happen to real people in real settings and usually take place in the same time period of the reader (the present). The fantastic element found in most fiction is somewhat suspended. 

Example Titles:

  • Juvenile: No Place Like Home by James Bird; Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary; Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

  • Young Adult: Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield; Yolk by Mary H. K. Choi; Seton Girls by Charlene Thomas

  • Adult: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng; Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney; The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal


 

Religious Fiction

Sections Used In: Adult Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: Books in the religious fiction genre include stories where explicit themes of religion and/or faith are central to the primary plot and characters interact with their world (or relationships) through a religious lens. Religious fiction can include stories that deal with prophecy, spiritual choices, and/or inspirational encouragement of forgiveness and freedom from what hinders humanity. 

Example Titles:

  • Adult: The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom; Winter’s Awakening by Shelley Shepard Gray; At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon


 

Romance 

Sections Used In: Young Adult, Adult Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: Romance is frequently paired with other genres (such as fantasy or historical fiction). It can be difficult to differentiate between romance as the genre or primary subplot, but every romance novel must contain two elements: 1) the main plot is centered around individuals and their romantic relationship, and 2) an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. Romance is divided into several subsections. If you read a title and think it should have a different pepper rating, let the library know.

 

Young Adult Fiction Romance

  • Romance (0 peppers): Used for romance books when the level of romance is unavailable online.

  • 1 pepper: Everything stays PG. Maybe a kiss or two, but physical romance is either not included or described in general terms/implied. 

  • 2 peppers: No explicit sensuality. Can include sexual tension, but physical romance remains off the page.

  • Example Titles: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han; Camp by Lev AC Rosen; The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

 

Adult Fiction Romance

  • Romance (0 peppers): Used for romance books when the level of romance is unavailable online.

  • 1 pepper: Everything stays PG. Maybe a kiss or two, but physical romance is either not included or described in general terms/implied. Example Titles: Love Finds You in Sisters, Oregon by Melody Carlson, The Rosie Project by Graeme C. Simsion; That Summer by Jennifer Weiner

  • 2 peppers: No explicit sensuality. Can include sexual tension, but physical romance remains off the page. Example Titles: The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews; The Best of Us by Robyn Carr; Happy Place by Emily Henry

  • 3 peppers: 1-2 moderately explicit sex scenes, but generally milder language. Physical details are described, but are not graphically depicted. Much is left to the reader’s imagination. Example Titles: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory; Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert; Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

  • 4 peppers: R-rated. 3 or more explicit sex scenes and/or strong descriptive language. Example Titles: Ship Wrecked by Olivia Dade; Blood Magick by Nora Roberts

  • 5 peppers: Extremely explicit and/or erotica (where sex/sexuality are fundamental to character and/or plot development). Example Titles: Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman; Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James


Science Fiction

Sections Used In: Juvenile Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: Science fiction includes any narrative which is unlikely, though plausible, and explained through logical scientific or technological extrapolation. Stories can center around the effects and ramifications of technology and generally involve traveling through space, time, or alternate universes, as well as, involve alien life-forms. Science fiction is distinguished from Fantasy by the plausibility of the narrative elements.

Example Titles:

  • Juvenile: Klawde by Johnny Marciano; Marooned by Brad Strickland; Paige Not Found by Jennifer Wilde

  • Young Adult: Munmun by Jesse Andrews; This Vicious Cure by Emily Suvada; Across the Universe by Beth Revis

  • Adult: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers; Recursion by Blake Crouch; All Systems Red by Martha Wells


 

Speculative Fiction

Sections Used In: Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: Can be used to describe books that don't neatly fit into one genre (such as Fantasy, Science Fiction, or Historical Fiction) or contain primary elements of multiple genres, such as alternative history and alternate reality stories. 

Example Titles:

  • Young Adult: City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende; A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger; Roxy by Neal Shusterman

  • Adult: How To Stop Time by Matt Haig; Raised in Captivity by Chuck Klosterman; The Seep by Chana Porter


 

Suspense

Sections Used In: Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: The suspense genre includes stories that slowly generate feelings of anxiety, anticipation, and uncertainty in the audience that continue to build until the end of the story. Common elements include slower pace, heightened anticipation, and the reader knows more than main character.

Example Titles:

  • Young Adult: The Raft by S.A. Bodeen; Deep Water by Watt Key; When We Were Lost by Kevin Wignall

  • Adult: Jackal by Erin E Adams; Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews; The Confession by John Grisham 


 

Thriller

Sections Used In: Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: Similar to the mystery genre, except thrillers tend to devote most of their focus to suspense, dread, and the fear of a future crime instead of one that's already happened. The reader and the protagonist might already know who’s responsible for the crime, and both are waiting to see how that criminal will be brought to justice. Thrillers often take the readers on a roller coaster of emotional tension.

Example Titles:

  • Young Adult: And Don’t Look Back by Rebecca Barrow; Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin; Into the Light by Mark Oshiro

  • Adult: The Last Word by Taylor Adams; Long Road to Mercy by David Baldacci; Jack Reacher Series by Lee Child

 

Western

Sections Used In: Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction

Label Color:

Definition: A specific genre that generally takes place in the American Old West and commonly feature bounty hunters, gunfighters, outlaws, cowboys, settlers, Native Americans, Civil War elements, and/or saloons. Many are set in some sort of wild, natural landscape that’s hard to survive in.

Example Titles:

  • Young Adult: These War-Torn Hands by Emily Hayse

  • Adult: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry; Go West, Young Man by William W. Johnstone; Montana Territory by Charles West.

Fiction Series

Where to find these labels: Look for these labels directly above the white spine label. 

 

Fiction books that are part of a series are labeled with the series number on the spine of each book. Series color varies based on section:

Children’s/Juvenile Fiction Series:

All series in the children’s section use a bright blue series sticker.

 

Young Adult Fiction Series:

All series in the young adult section use a bright green series sticker.

 

Adult Fiction Series:

Series stickers in Adult Fiction have 13 possible colors. Series have a unique color to help differentiate between individual series by the same author. For example: V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic series uses bright yellow series stickers while her Villains series uses dark green series stickers. In the photo to the left, all these books are by James Patterson but are within different series.

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Nonfiction

Where to find these labels: Look for these labels directly above the white spine label. 

Additional Labels

Jump to a section: Graphic Novel, in beTWEEN, Manga, New Adult, Oregon Author

Graphic Novel

Sections Used In: Juvenile Graphic Novels, Young Adult Graphic Novels & Manga, Adult Graphic Novels & Manga.

Where to find these labels: Look for these labels below the white spine label. 

Definition: A format, not a genre, that tells a story in a long-form work of sequential art. Graphic novels can be fiction or nonfiction and are shelved by target audience.


 

in beTWEEN

Sections Used In: in beTWEEN 

Where to find these labels: Look for these labels at the top of a book’s spine. 

Definition: Juvenile and Young Adult titles geared for middle grade readers. Books shelved in this section are intended for independent readers who are ready to move from the Juvenile fiction shelves but are not quite ready for the length, vocabulary, or themes of teen books.


 

Manga

Sections Used In: Young Adult Graphic Novels & Manga, Adult Graphic Novels & Manga

Where to find these labels: Look for these labels below the white spine label. 

Definition: An umbrella term for a style of Japanese comic books and graphic novels. Manga is read from top to bottom and right to left. Unlike American graphic novels and comics, which are usually printed in full color, Japanese manga are almost always published in black and white. The North Douglas Library District has manga titles in both the Young Adult and Adult sections.

 

Shonen: Manga geared for tween and teen boys.

Shojo: Manga geared for tween and teen girls.

Shonen and shojo manga are all shelved in the Young Adult Graphic Novel & Manga section.

 

Seinen: Manga geared for adult men (18+).

Josei: Manga geared for adult women (18+).

Seinen and josei manga are all shelved in the Adult Graphic Novel & Manga section.


 

New Adult

Sections Used In: Young Adult, Adult

Where to find these labels: Look for these labels at the top of a book’s spine. 

Definition: Young Adult and Adult titles in both fiction and nonfiction geared for older teens and readers in their twenties. These titles are intended for readers ready to move from the Young Adult shelves to Adult titles. New Adult books can include graphic violence and explicit romance.


 

Oregon Author

Sections Used In: All physical materials

Where to find these labels: Look for these labels at the top of a book’s spine. 

Definition: Books written by authors with significance to Oregon. The North Douglas Library District follows the Oregon Author Project’s criteria for Oregon authors: Authors must have published at least 1 book with an ISBN/ISSN and been born in Oregon, have been or currently is a resident of Oregon, or have spent a significant portion of their writing career in Oregon.

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