January 21, 2022

Research Article: “Graphic Novels: Collecting, Cataloging and Outreach in an Academic Library”

The following full text research article (open access) was published in the Journal of Academic Librarianship.


Graphic Novels: Collecting, Cataloging and Outreach in an Academic Library


Aimee Slatera
Brandeis University

Ann Kardosb
Brandeis University


The Journal of Academic Librarianship
Volume 43, Issue 2 (March 2017)
doi: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2017.01.011

From the Introduction:

Most major US universities have graphic novels in their library collections. Titles like Maus ( Spiegelman, 1986) and Persepolis ( Satrapi, 2004) have become staples in the stacks for their academic relevance and accessible style of delivering information through visually striking art. While some libraries have comprehensive collections and budgets to support them, many do not and thus have a collection that lacks cohesion and scope. The Brandeis University collection fell into that latter category, and we aimed to correct that. But beyond titles that have achieved scholarly notoriety and critical acclaim, like Maus and Persepolis, how does an academic library with little to no comprehensive collection create one and how does it engage students with acquired titles?

For us, this began as a personal project. We individually enjoy reading graphic novels and were heartened to see our library already had titles like Fun Home ( Bechdel, 2007) and Waltz with Bashir ( Folman & Polonsky, 2009) in our collection, but there was no discernable method to how titles were acquired. For example, why Waltz with Bashir, but not Fax from Sarajevo ( Kubert, 1998) or The Photographer ( Guibert, 2009), which covered similar topics? Further exploration into the process uncovered that our system for acquiring graphic novel titles was on an ad hoc basis. We typically acquired titles as the result of faculty requests for course materials, items we received on our approval plan, or included in past donations. As a cataloging librarian and a social sciences librarian, we were in a unique position to do what librarians do best: bring order to chaos, and put together an organized plan to acquire and publicize the resulting collection so students see it and, more importantly, use it. But where to start?

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.