Myself, Teen Librarian M, and Collection Development Librarian B got to spend a wonderful day yesterday listening to the very knowledgable Kat Kan give a presentation on graphic novels in the library. Teen Librarian M and I are both already very much in the know about graphic novels and manga as we both read them in our personal lives and advocate in our library system whenever we manage to get a chance to, giving programs on them and suggesting core titles for purchase. So, quite a bit of what was talked about we knew already, at least in terms of content and the kind of stuff that is out there right now but it was also a very good introduction for those who don’t know as much as we so, such as Collection Development Librarian B, and I think it was quite eye opening for many of those who were in attendance.
It was also really interesting to hear this information from the view point of someone whos been into graphic novels for so long and who has also been in libraries too and made a difference in the collections and in the way patrons look at the library while doing so. Even now there seems to be such a stigma on graphic literature as it does often contain just the same content as novels, only in picture format. Somehow this always gets people uptight even if libraries don’t usually tend to carry things that are to extremely graphic. (As opposed to graphic.) And of course the enduring idea that it’s just drawings for kids, meant to entertain. But, as she so greatly explained using Watchmen, that most certainly isn’t the case.
Perhaps what surprised me the most was the sheer amount of questions her program made me think of while she was talking. I don’t believe there was a single break when I didn’t go up to her and relentlessly pick her brain about something she had said. One of these was her thoughts on the 741.5 classifcation for graphic novels and why she really doesn’t like it since they tend to get lost in nonfiction. That, and it’s just not cool to go and look at books that are near the collectable coins and crafting sections. I can completely agree with her viewpoint here as that happens all of the time in our library and the lack of circulation of those materials is rather upsetting. She also mentioned the bid to the Dewey editors to have a special number set just for graphic novels. (Which was subsequently ignored.) She urged us to pull them out of nonfiction (and fiction in some cases) and make them as visible as possible.
Still, it was a learning experience and one I won’t forget for quite awhile now. Lucky for us we have special display shelving and the next theme going up there will be graphic novels. I would urge any librarian who has a chance to see Kat Kan speak to go and do so, it was very enlightening.
And the best part was she is also a gigantic Sandman fan, just as I am. One of the best things ever written, I swear.
And for anyone interested, the Graphic Novels in Libraries discussion list (GNLIB) is great to answer your questions and to fill you on on whats going on.