It can be difficult for a librarian to navigate the big and complicated world of graphic novels without a bit of guidance, especially if you are unfamiliar with the genre. What I love about the library community is the willingness to help each other out. We truly are a community of, “There’s no such thing as a dumb question,” and we also love to answer all those questions.
So, if you are new to comics and graphic novels, are considering adding or expanding your collections, or are simply looking to connect with other passionate librarians, I have a few great resources for you.
American Library Association’s Graphic Novel & Comics in Libraries Member (https://www.facebook.com/groups/ALAGNMIG/)
The American Library Association (ALA) has a lot of interest groups and sub-divisions focusing on very narrow topics. It can be a bit overwhelming to find one that is right for you. But the ALA Graphic Novels & Comics in Librarian MIG (oh, there’s no good acronym for that one!) is a great group to join to get your feet wet and meet new people. Plus, you don’t even have to be a member of ALA to keep up with them because most of the activity and discussion takes place on their Facebook page. From people posting funny memes, asking for recommendations, or bragging about a successful program, the laidback, caring nature of the group make it a really great communication and brainstorming tool.
Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Great Graphic Novels (http://www.ala.org/yalsa/great-graphic-novels)
While I don’t work with teens, I use the YALSA Great Graphic Novels all the time for working with adults. Once a graphic novel hits the teen realm (for YALSA 12-18 years old), it automatically is an adult GN too. I mostly use this site for collection development ideas and titles to add to genre lists for my book club. The Great Graphic Novels for Teens lists are also unique because they allow for nominations year round and their current nomination list is available online. So, if you are looking for the most current books which librarians think are superb, they are all in one place.
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (www.cbldf.org)
Censorship and book banning is still a problem in modern day librarianship; however, organizations like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) provide a great network and defense against censorship. According to their website, the CBLDF, “is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers.” While you may think the name, legal defense fund, seems like an advocacy program only, the news updates and international scope of their work is what I really enjoy and benefit from. People will often say, “comics are just for kids” or “they hold no literary merit”, but once you realize that people are facing bodily harm and severe censorship for creating art, you begin to see the complexity of graphic novels as a genre and are better able to defend their place in
Cosplay, Comics, and Geek Culture in Libraries (ccgclibraries.com)
There are several small pockets of geeky librarians and enthusiasts who have gotten together to create a network to find, “new ways to engage library patrons such as fandom events, comic book and graphic novel collections, comic cons, cosplay events, and more.” If you are in programming or interested in hosting a convention at your library, then this is the site for you. From trips to Hogwarts, to how to host a cosplay workshop and even how to mesh coding and comics, CCGC in Libraries is a very well rounded resource. The executive editor of the site, Ellyssa Kroski has even written a book called Cosplay in Libraries: How to Embrace Costume Play in Your Library, excellent for those apprehensive or novice programming specialists.
Do you have a favorite website for graphic novels in libraries? Leave a note in the comment or Tweet them to @librnwithissues