"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

24 March 2013


Tarulli brings up a topic I have discussed in previous posts: how to catalog graphic novels.  She brings up a good point in that the person who catalogs the graphic novels is usually in the technical services department and does not see how the cataloging plays out on the shelves: "Technical services staff ... are faced with a number of choices that are often made without the benefit of collaborating with the selector or resident expert. When this occurs, catalogers turn to existing cataloging practices and rules, and their own expertise, to create a uniform level of cataloging that will provide access."

Because the graphic novel collection, rather than being a passing fancy or trend in the library world, has exploded into a cataloging nightmare, many libraries are forced to consider alternatives to housing all the graphic novels in the 741s.  In addition, many patrons now come to the library, not to find one specific book title, but to browse titles in the same way they might at a bookstore.  Some libraries have gone so far as to remove Dewey from their systems altogether and to reclassify the books by general topic, making it easier for readers to browse among their interests.

The question that naturally surfaces, then is this: do we continue to shelve graphic novels in their own section, regardless of genre or topic, or do we integrate the graphic novels, shelving travel narratives with other travel narratives, and graphic Romeo and Juliet near the original Shakespeare play?

How you answer this question depends on your approach to readers advisory.  If you would want people who are interested in World War II, for example, to have access to The Diary of Anne Frank, Code Name Verity, and Maus all at the same time, it would make sense to integrate the graphic novels into the rest of the collection.  As we have mentioned many times in class, graphic novels are a medium, not a genre.

But what about those readers who want only graphic novels?  Would integrating the graphic novels into  the rest of the collection make things more difficult for graphic novel aficionados?  Would the circulation statistics suffer and the library lose some of its patrons because they cannot find what they like?

Somehow I doubt it. I have observed that people who enjoy graphic novels do often enjoy a variety of genres within that medium, but many people who read graphic novels read one particular genre, just as many people who read print works prefer one particular genre.  In this case, separating the graphic novels into their respective genres would make things easier for the enthusiasts, as they would not have to sort through the graphic novels whose topics or genres do not interest them.  In this case, though I would definitely recommend that the library consider switching from a "nonfiction by Dewey, fiction by author" method of delivery to BISAC or METIS, either of which would be easier and more navigable for all patrons and would likely increase circulation of all materials, not just graphic works.


Anonymous said...

I think you're completely right that the statistics wouldn't drop. One thing I find annoying is when graphic novels aren't consistently shelved. For example, having a graphic novel section, but placing some graphic novels under biography, science fiction, etc. Since you work in a library now, I'm curious to know, how are the graphic novels shelved now?

Jenni Frencham said...

The GN at our library are shelved in the 741s by age (kids with kids, YA with YA, etc.). The YA section is small enough that this isn't a problem, but it feels weird to me in the adult and juvenile sections, since these obviously fiction tales are so far away from the rest of the fiction. :D

Morgan R. said...

While I can see the advantages of shelving graphic novels with their respective genres and subjects, I do think the fact that they are a separate medium should be considered. I would like to see graphic novels shelved like movies, with nonfiction and biography comics getting the Dewey treatment, and with the fiction being separated into subsections based on subject and organized by author last name. So superhero comics could all be together, and your WWII memoirs would be together.