I enjoyed the articles in Weiner’s book this week, especially considering my e-discussion of graphic novels last week. It is true that graphic novels have a fairly stereotypical audience; however, it is also true that as librarians we would be doing a disservice if we did not recommend graphic novels to all of our patrons. I appreciated Boyer’s mention of the groups who do not typically read graphic novels: adults, particularly senior citizens, parents who regard graphic novels as “less than,” teens who believe that only certain types of teens (geeks, nerds, however you want to name them) read graphic novels, and most importantly, librarians.
Boyer’s position that librarians should be familiar with all of the different media and materials available in the library is a valid one. This is precisely why I am taking this class. I don’t know enough about graphic works, nor am I comfortable/familiar enough with classic graphic novels or newly published and popular graphic novels to do an adequate job advising readers. Eventually, I will work at a library, and hopefully I’ll have a cadre of regular patrons who can offer suggestions on what I should read next. Until then, though, I must rely on my classmates and the internet to define my “to read” list.
Gavigan also made some good points about using graphic novels to reach reluctant readers, particularly adolescent males, who have been shown to read significantly less than their female peers. Although the idea of using a graphic novel as a “stepping stone” into another medium has already been hotly debated in our class, I see no problem with suggesting a graphic novel to a reluctant reader if, in the librarian’s opinion, that reader will engage with or enjoy the graphic novel better than a traditional print novel. The librarian does not need to have a “hidden agenda” of encouraging the patron to read print novels; rather, the librarian is simply meeting a need for a patron, regardless of the outcome. Perhaps that patron will eventually read other types of books; perhaps s/he will continue to read exclusively from the graphic novel /comic medium.
I appreciated the idea of suggesting graphic novels alongside other books; for example, suggesting Marvel’s Oz books alongside other fantasy novels, or adding Persepolis to a list of memoirs / autobiographies. In the future, when I am responsible for book displays in the library, I will make a point to include graphic works in addition to traditional print works, the same way I would attempt to include both fiction works and non-fiction works in a display. While it may be true that graphic novel aficionados will generally prefer to read other graphic works, and print novel fans will prefer print works, it is also true that offering a variety of media and a variety of genres is part of the appeal of the public library, in addition to the benefit of being able to try something completely new without having to pay for it. Jimmy John’s may offer free smells, but the library offers free adventures, both familiar and brand-new.