While some critics still consider graphic novels “comic books” they have proven to be worthwhile collections that are necessary for libraries. However, despite a growing acceptance, there are still complaints about their content. The sometimes stark visual images presented in graphic novels can disturb an audience more than the written word. How can you be an advocate for graphic novels in your library?
Among some of the top ten graphic novel complaints include Jeff Smith’s Bone series for “sexually explicit content” and the Pulitzer-prize winning Maus for “anti ethnic” content. To help show your community the value of such books, the ALA has come out with a document on “Dealing with Challenges to Graphic Novels.”Having good customer service and a intact library policy will go a long way to handling complaints.
Teens can also be a big advocate for graphic novels. Those teens that come into your library and check out a couple of feet high stack of manga can prove to administration and others that graphic novels are not only wanted but needed. Starting a graphic novel book club or featuring specific titles on display can also help spread awareness. Many complaints come out of ignorance and promotion of graphic novels can help dispel that.
If you have advocated for graphic novels in your library, consider entering YALSA’s Thinking Big About Advocacy Contest. Contest rules and electronic applications are available at www.ala.org/yalsa/awards&grants.