Friday, July 12, 2002

Comic Book Collections
Does your library include comic books in its permanent collection? Bryan Fagan went to last month's annual American Library Association conference to explore why libraries don't stock comic books and graphic novels; how comics publishers such as DC, Dark Horse, and CrossGen are trying to make inroads with libraries; what kind of swag the publishers distributed; and what the publishers did not do: explain why libraries should choose comics over other media. Fagan makes the extremely important distinction between the heavy presence of superhero-related wares -- seemingly a hard sell to libraries -- and Diamond's focus on books such as Maus, Safe Area Gorazde, and the 911 anthologies. He also suggests that "libraries will pay more than $50 for an academic press's thin volume containing the diary of a war refugee, but they won't pay less than $20 for Joe Kubert's Fax from Sarajevo or Will Eisner's Last Day in Vietnam."

I was slightly surprised that publishers pushed superhero-related material. Libraries -- unless they host an extensive underground comics, Golden Age, or Silver Age collection -- don't have room for single issues. So trade paperbacks, anthologies, and comic-related books are better bets. But how do you select what TPB's have a shelf life? The 911 books make sense. As does Maus. But should a library stock the Preacher series? I'm not so sure.

Several librarians and people involved in the comics industry have compiled lists of recommended graphic novels. Here are a few resources to draw on:

Steve Raiteri
Recommended Graphic Novels for Public Libraries

Steve Miller
Graphic Novels in Libraries mailing list

Francisca Goldsmith
YA Talk: Graphic Novels

Patrick Jones
Graphic Novels for Young Adults: A Core Collection

Stephen Weiner
The 101 Best Graphic Novels

That's three Steve's. Why so many Steve's?

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