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Deposit Collections Available from the Library Commission: Graphic Novel

Request a Collection

Complete the form below to request a collection from the Library Commission.

What do I need to know about the collection?

Why a graphic novel rotating collection?

Libraries and the public tend to see no value in comic books or graphic novels; graphic novels are perceived as not having literary value.  So why a rotating collection?  Besides its popularity with young and old readers alike, attitudes are changing about this format’s literary value.  


To begin with, these materials aid poor readers and develop literacy.  By keeping readers attention and interest in how the story unfolds, graphic novels are improving reader’s abilities to recognize words, identify words to their meanings, follow sequences of events, etc. In addition to helping poor readers, readers of graphic novels and comic books have a larger vocabulary and have better language art skills.


Besides aiding poor readers, graphic novels and comics encourage unmotivated readers to read.  The reader continues reading these materials out of enjoyment, developing a love of reading that blossoms out into other areas in the library.


Lastly, this material helps develop literacy and visual literacy.  Everyday we bombarded with visual messages through the Internet, television, movies, etc.  This material helps us all develop skills, at our own pace, to interpret and make sense of those images.


What is a graphic novel?

Graphic novels grew out of the comics.  A graphic novel is a book that uses images to assist in the storytelling.  Unlike picture books, the images within a graphic novel must be integrated with the text for the story to flow and make sense.  This format of storytelling is called sequential art.


Graphic novels are not a genre of fiction, like science fiction or historical fiction, but a format, like audio-books. Like regular books, graphic novels come in an array of genres and non-fiction for all types of readers.


What is the difference between a graphic novel, a comic book, and manga?

Graphic novels and comic books are very similar.  Both use imagery with text to tell a story. The difference lies with how they are published.  Comic books are serials, like Nature or People, which are published weekly or monthly, where as a graphic novel has a single publication date.  The rise of graphic novels has caught the comic book community’s attention.  Many publishers, like DC Comics, Marvel, and Dark Horse, are taking story lines originally told in serial format and republishing them as graphic novels.


Manga is the Japanese word for comics and has its own unique artistic style.  This style differs from American comics in three ways:  characters have exaggerated physical appearances, like huge eyes; motion is subjective and from the character’s point of view, not a backdrop; the story line relies heavily on visual cues instead of textual ones.


Is every graphic novel, comic book, or manga appropriate for all ages?

No, not every graphic novel, comic book, or manga is appropriate for all ages.  All three can be written for a general audience.  Like regular books, authors write for a specific age group. Some authors write children’s works, while other authors write for an adult audience. To help librarians and parents choose age appropriate materials, a comic book and manga-rating guide has been developed.  The rating for the material can be located on the back cover of the item.  In the rotating collection, you will see the following ratings

  • All—for general audiences
  • T—for teens aged 13 and up
  • OT—for older teens aged 16 and up
  • M—for adult readers aged 18 and up


Graphic novels do not always use the rating guide developed by comic books or manga.  In this case, it is up to technical and public services to decide the best audience for the work.  To do this, look at the illustrations and text of the work.  If both appear to be for an older audience, place the work in the young adult or adult collections.  When in doubt, put it in the adult collection and always use common sense.


What should my staff know about the collection?

Your staff may have their own opinions about graphic novels, comics, and manga.  Please take the time to familiarize yourself and your staff with the titles and appropriate age group.  To aid you in this, there is an annotated bibliography incorporated into the package.  This bibliography will have the titles in the rotating collection highlighted, as well as information about the appropriate age group, a brief summary for the work, and whether or not it is an award winner.


In addition to going over the bibliography, stress with your staff that not all graphic novels are intended for every audience.  There is a perception that all graphic novels and comics are intended for children, and this could not be further from the truth.   


Now that you have the collection, how do you get the users through the front door? 

As with any collection, if your users do not know the collection exists, they will not use it, so get the word out.  Try these suggestions.

  • If you have a good working relation, or want to start one, go to your local high school library and ask about hanging a flyer.  It is a great way to let young adults know they can also turn to the public library for their reading needs.
  • If your area has an after school program, get the word out to the coordinators.  Again, ask to hang a flyer, or set up a display at their next event.
  • Advertise the collection in your library’s events calendar and circular.
  • Place a sign by your public access computers, so young adult users and their parents know the collection is there.
  • Display a book at the circulation desk with a sign promoting the material is at your library.
  • Location is key.  Place the collection by the door or with the new material display.
  • Contact your area literacy group.  These materials are helpful in promoting reading for adult literacy.
  • Word of mouth always works.


Now that you have the collection, what can you do with it?

Once the word is out that the materials are at your library, here are some programming suggestions to keep your users coming back.

  • Create your own comic book or zine (rhythms with bean).  These comics and zines can be displayed around the library.  To show the whole community, contact your local newspaper to inquire about a page to publish the works.
  • Read it! Hear it! Watch it!  Some graphic novels are adaptations of books that are also available on audio-books or on VHS/DVD, possibly available in your library.  Some examples of such works within the rotating collections are Dracula and The Wizard of Oz.  With the graphic novel, place the audiobook or video recording alongside to generate more interest.
  • 100 Club.  When a title is checked-out 100 times, put a sticker on it that shows the works popularity to other readers.
  • Teen-read-a-thon.  Choose an evening or Saturday afternoon for this program.  This program is simple; place the teens in an area where they can be supervised, yet not bothering other library users.  The goal is to see who can read the most in two or three hours.   There is a saying “If you feed them, they will come,” and for teenagers it is very true.  Ask your local pizza place to donate a few pizzas for a good cause, and display their boxes prominently. 

West Virginia Library Commission
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