ForeWord Magazine writes up a recent graphic novel event for librarians.

It may have been the first all-day event for librarians devoted exclusively to the graphic novel. Graphic novel consultant John Shableski and librarians from the Harborfields Public Library, headed by Director Carol Albino, assembled a mesmerizing series of panels and speakers early this month, sponsored by the Suffolk (NY) Cooperative Library System, and coordinated by librarian Barbara Moon.

Shableski set the stage by pointing out that virtually “every major publisher now has a graphic novel imprint and now they’re trying to figure out what works.” He noted that the graphic novel (GN) is to publishing today very much as rock and roll was when it first entered the music industry mainstream: a strange format already familiar to the popular culture but not yet understood by the established distribution channels.


  1. Thanks for mentioning the GN Symposium in Suffolk County. There was one critical name missing from the story and it’s Barbara Moon who put the event together. She contacted me after the library panels at NYCC 07 to see if something like this would be possible to accomplish. Lo and behold we had a packed house and an inspiration for other library systems who now see the possibilities.
    So, my hat is off to Barbara Moon, with out her this fantastic event wouldnt have happened.


  2. This was absolutely a fantastic event and, I’d like to think, the first of many for library systems across the country. Not enough good things can be said about Barbara and John and everybody else. Full disclosure: I participated modestly in the programming. So it may sound like I’m congratulating myself, which is not my intention. I just mean that it was a great event, well attended and orchestrated.

    As Mr. Moonlight (I *love* that song!) says above, those of us who’ve been in the comics world probably never thought we’d live to see such an event come together. But in this cusp-y zeitgeist, it’s nice to think such things will become more frequent!

  3. Librarians can now track circulation by computer (something which most comicbook stores cannot). Using this data, they can confirm that not only is it popular, but that it brings reluctant readers into the library.
    graphic novels are evolving in much the same way science fiction evolved in the mid20th century. The next benchmark will be a listing in the New York Times bestseller list, as well as shortlisting for major literary awards.

  4. And the next event – an all-day workshop for librarians devoted to anime and manga. Yep, I’m doing one down here in Florida next month. A much smaller scale program, it’s just me and one panel of librarians who are doing anime and manga programming already. But yes, librarians are increasingly embracing graphic novels and comics. I did a very small circulation study of my collection in 2001; even the slowest-circulating graphic novel went out more often than about 95% of the other books in my collection. And only stuff like the Harry Potter and Redwall books went out more often than my very popular manga collection. And this was 6 years ago. I’ve heard from other libraries that their graphic novel and manga circulation beats everything in their libraries except the hot hot bestselling prose books.
    Oh, and quite a few of us in the library world are doing half-day workshops in library systems all over the country. And we’ve been doing these for years (I’ve been doing them since 1998). But the Suffolk shindig – that is a very cool event I hope to see replicated everywhere.

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