August 4, 2012

Breaking Out: Creating a standalone graphic novel collection in the public library

One of the biggest comics-related questions facing public librarians is: Where do we put these things?  As part of an excellent committee at Durham County Library last year focusing on just exactly that, I was lucky enough to witness and engage in the process for answering this question.  Of course, there are many possible answers with different strengths and weaknesses, and it's too early to know if there is a universally acceptable best answer, or even one that's universally "close enough".

Nevertheless, participating in the reorganization process allowed me a glimpse into the possibilities this challenge has to offer, and I'm excited to announce that this post marks the start of a series of posts covering this topic.  Rather than giving a prescription for one approach to creating a standalone graphic novel collection, I'll discuss the range of issues to consider when taking on the task. My goal is to make the journey smoother than it might be if starting from scratch, and I also hope that my ideas will someday be part of a larger best-practices approach.  I will offer my opinions on issues and occasionally explain the way we did it here in Durham, but these will only be illustrations of a given possibility rather than a declaration of universal merit.

Many, many thanks to the Durham County Library graphic novel committee for inviting me to participate, particularly to collection development librarians Lisa Dendy, Donna Hausmann, and Stephen Zibrat, whose foresight and hard work tackling the issue have been immeasurable and, I believe, have put our library system in the vanguard of public libraries when it comes to graphic novel collections.

So stick around, and please offer any comments, criticisms or questions you may have.

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