reading matters, so let's make public library reader services awesome!


Why did I never get to check out a comic from the library? I read comics as a kid, and so did my Dad. My Mum still has a fine collection of what you could call graphic novels – comic strips in bound book form from the fifties – without it in front of me I can only remember Bessie Bunter. Until I read Matt Finch’s posts about comics in Parkes and Auckland Libraries, I didn’t realise that there has been a reading gap in a lot of public libraries.
I don’t know a lot about graphic novels but I know that libraries have embraced them – do they cost more than comics? Do they have the same content? Libraries lend print magazines, why not print comics? Is everyone moving on now to apps anyway?

So, spurred into action by Matt, I rediscovered reading comics again. I’ve bought a few from the local comic store (awesome service), Mum bought me some from a comic store where she lives (!), we’ve got back into buying Phantom comics from the newsagency, and I’ve downloaded two apps – Archie and Peanuts. I also downloaded the bitstrips app so I could make my own.

There’s a lot libraries could do with comics and people who love them; from awesome creative maker opportunities to collaborative prospects with local comic stores for Free Comic Book Day – first Saturday in May).

I don’t have experience in putting together a comical event myself, but I do know there’s a lot of information out there. Here’s some of it, starting with Matt’s innovative work –

Quick update 30 June – from @feddabon – Comics NZ launch tomorrow! at Auckland Libraries –

And the best way to learn is to actively participate – try a MOOC – Any librarians wanting to get their feet wet on graphic novels/comics, here is a MOOC starting in September . via Big Mouth @pnkrcklibrarian and @TimothyFerg1. This course looks comprehensively awesome.

How Comics Conquered Libraries – good explanations of why comics may have been missing from collections – and a link to Comics + which offers library digital subscriptions. Comics Plus : LibraryEdition allows you to read thousands of digital graphic novels and comic books on your pc, tablet, smartphone, gaming systems, or any web-connected device. More information about digital comics in libraries here.

Graphic novels: Enticing teenagers into the library –  thesis by Clare Snowball here


Unfortunately, as with other genres of popular literature such as science fiction, comic books were often considered unworthy of addition to research library collections. (Comic books in the library on the NYP library blog).

While uniform cataloging standards, programming for adult graphic novel readers, and close monitoring of circulation can go a long way, it is important––especially in big cities or large library systems––that there be a library staff member (preferably a librarian) who is genuinely passionate about comics and graphic novels. Comic book fans are dedicated to their hobby. Their foot traffic in the library will circulate materials of all types––not just comics––and it is imperative that these users be able to locate materials that they are interested in. Graphic novels and comic books are the lifeline of libraries in the twenty-first century. If readers can’t find comics that interest them, they won’t even bother looking at other materials. (Pyles, 2013).

Why do people love to read comics? on Splash ABC.

It’s no joke: comics and collection development. on Public Libraries Online.

Comics, Libraries and Education conference

Not your grandpa’s comic books on Public Libraries Online.

ALA Graphic Novel grant

My friend Jo read Archie and Phantom as a kid and now reads graphic novels. I read Mandrake, Superman, Archie, Peanuts and MAD Magazine, and married into a family of Phantom Phans. I enjoyed reading the publisher’s comments in the inside front cover about the artwork and the artists. My Dad bought The Wizard of Id, Andy Capp, and Jolliffe when we were kids so we read them too. All of these comics readers also read widely.

I’m definitely going to include comics apps in my Tech for Readers program. They’re not just for kids!



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