Seen at the Library

I stopped by my library over the weekend to donate some graphic novels — while I love them, there’s only so much shelf space in the house — and discovered something exciting!

Library Graphic Novels

All of the book-format comics, manga and graphic novels, used to be in the Planet Teen young adult section. But as the picture shows, my county library has now created a section of graphic novels for adults. I think this is a great idea, showing that the format has material for every age group. Plus, I got a chance to check out an unusual Osamu Tezuka volume; try a recommended artistic European memoir; and catch up on Adrian Tomine’s work.

Most surprising was the discovery of a book called Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd. It’s an anthology of stories about being geeks in love, edited by Holly Black (The Good Neighbors) and Cecil Castellucci (The Plain Janes) and featuring short comic inserts by Hope Larson (Chiggers) and Bryan Lee O’Malley (Scott Pilgrim). That’s my favorite part of going to the library: finding something neat you didn’t even know existed.

10 Responses to “Seen at the Library”

  1. Journalista – the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Nov. 10, 2009: In my opinion Says:

    […] Johanna Draper Carlson spots an adult graphic-novel section in her local library. […]

  2. Thad Says:

    I read an interesting roundtable the other day about the library employees who were fired for canceling a little girl’s reservation of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; one of the suggestions that came up in the conversation was that comics really shouldn’t all be put in the same section. A Scott McCloud phrase I find myself repeating fairly often is “Comics is a medium, not a genre” — obviously I’m preaching to the choir when I say that here, but even after Maus, Ghost World, et al the mainstream public seems to have trouble making that distinction.

    (Remember when there were few enough movies released on DVD that Blockbuster actually had a DVD section?)

  3. Kat Kan Says:

    Thanks for sharing the photo! More and more public libraries have graphic novels in their adult sections. This has been going on for years, much more slowly than the adoption of graphic novels by librarians serving teens, but steadily increasing. My own local public library has included gns in the adult section, mostly because I donated them; and now I’ve donated some to the local community college library. My mantra at workshops for librarians is “graphic novel is a format, not a genre.”

  4. Johanna Says:

    That sums it up exactly, Kat. And yeah, I’m not surprised to hear that my local system is firmly in the middle of the pack instead of leading the way. I do live in the Southeast, after all. :) I plan on checking books out from both sections to show them that there’s interest.

  5. john Says:

    Hi Johanna,
    I’m rather surprised to see that your library has only just done this; the public library here in Wellington New Zealand has had both a YA and an Adults comics section for years now. There are some in the children’s section too,such as D&Q’s Moomin books, although they’re not sorted out as such.
    The rough rule of thumb seems to be superheroes/essentials/showcases in YA, and Vertigo/Max/comic strip collections/adult-oriented etc in Adults (I think pretty much everything by Fantagraphics would be in the adults section for example).
    As an adult I find it a bit weird to be in the YA section looking for my occassional superhero fix :-)

  6. Rick Bradford Says:

    At my local library of choice you can find Watchmen in the comics-specific shelving in their YA section (the “adult” section seems to be reserved for strip collections). Many people may in fact find that to be acceptable but (a) it’s mixed with the regular superheroes and manga, and (b) YA is, of course, adjacent to the children’s area.

    I think libraries face the same challenges as bookstores with respect to having staff that either knows the material or doesn’t. It does seem odd to me that the sources that suggest to them which popular graphic novels to order don’t also suggest their age-appropriateness but I don’t really know the inner workings of all that.

    All that said, it’s great to hear about any public library that acknowledges that (stop me if you’ve heard this one) comics aren’t just for kids anymore.

  7. Johanna Says:

    I’m trying to decide which I find more objectionable for a teen, Watchmen, or the issue of Catwoman where the villain tortures a character and then eats the victim’s extracted eyeball. I’m thinking the latter. My point being, that once you say today’s superhero comics are ok for teens, Watchmen isn’t that bad.

    I believe that trade journals often do included suggested age ratings in their reviews.

  8. Rick Bradford Says:

    Haha! Well, quite. I think Watchmen is a fine example of a book that could make headlines all over again if x-amount of parents knew the content and that it was being shelved alongside the presumably wholesome Spider-Man, etc. Actually, given the popularity of the movie, I’m surprised I haven’t heard about any like incidents.

    But maybe these libraries are in the minority, I don’t know.

    Also, I’m sure you’re correct about trade journals covering the age-appropriateness of books like that. But then I have to think about why the library doensn’t take the recommendation. Puzzling!

    The truth is I don’t really care too much one way or the other but knowing that these are ticking time bombs that could easily be avoided is slightly unsettling.

    Of course, this rambles away from the point of your post (when something perplexes me I tend to get stuck on it). Hooray for progressive libraries!

  9. Johanna Says:

    When we didn’t get any public outrage over Identity Crisis, with the Justice League mindwiping people after one of their members got raped by a supervillain, I gave up on people caring. That’s the kind of work that should be protested and kept from kids, but since Superman’s in it, apparently it’s ok.

    Yes, yay for libraries!

  10. 5 Ways to Get Free Comics: Free Comic Book Day May 1 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Visit your local library! It’s exciting to see so many libraries stocking and supporting graphic novels. Many also have a limited selection of comic issues — and […]




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