Category Archives: Library

UNL Comics Digital Library Collections

It is seldom that my interest in digital library collections and comic books intersect, but when they do I am always delighted. I stumbled across the Government Comics collection at University of Nebraska-Lincoln today.

This collection has a variety of comic books, ranging from Captain America Goes to War against Drugs to Don’t be a Sugar Daddy to Moonshiners!

UNL also has an Educational Comics collection which features titles like The Wonder Book of Rubber, Crack Busters, and Popeye and Agri-business Natural Resources Careers.

Amber by Night

Amber by Night by Sharon Sala and Mayu Takayama

I’m always on the lookout for fictional portrayals of librarians so there was no way I wasn’t going to read Amber by Night after reading this summary:
Amelia is a typical bookworm librarian. But she has a secret. At night, she works as a provocatively dressed waitress named Amber. One night as she’s working as usual, she spots Tyler, the town’s most sexy man, and the guy Amelia has been admiring for some time. As soon as he sees her, he approaches her, not realizing that she is, in fact, Amelia…!

I live tweeted reading this manga under the hashtag #annavsamber (inspired by Ken’s suggestion and my pal Chris’ heroic suffering with chrisvstwilight). Chris also created this excellent alternative cover for Amber by Night. If Amber by Night was a librarian disguised as a sexy waitress who was also disguised as a werewolf by night, that would be awesome.

Like most harlequin titles the story is a mass of cliches, but I was amused enough by all the stereotypical librarian imagery in this title that I didn’t regret the fifteen minutes I spent reading it. Poor Amelia is a spinster librarian who was raised by her spinster aunts. There are many spinsters here! She lives in a small town and wants to save up enough money to buy a new car, so naturally she gets a job with an alternate identity as a sexy waitress named Amber. On the way to her secret sexy job, she runs into the uber-hot farmer Tyler Dean Savage, who is dazzled by Amber’s long legs. Amelia has had a crush on Tyler for a long time, but of course he never noticed her in her usual bespectacled high-necked, pointy-bunned librarian outfits. Tyler asks Amber out, and she says yes thinking that for just once, she’ll live in the moment. They go out and Amelia decides that she won’t see him again, because if he’s attracted to Amber there’s no way he’d like Amelia the Spinster Librarian.

When you think about it, Spinster Librarians are a little bit like Superman. They have their Clark Kentlike nerdy exterior, but if they take off their glasses and shake loose their hair, they develop powers of super sexiness that they can then use to entrap equally sexy local farmers like Tyler Dean Savage. Takayama does a decent job with the art adaptation of the original harlequin novel. I particularly liked the way she made Amelia’s bun come to a point on top of her head, for that extra touch of spinsterness. There’s plenty of contrast between Amelia’s two personas in their attire and body language. Tyler’s a typical tall dark and handsome hero type who always seems to be around when Amelia is about to topple over. After saving her from tripping at the grocery store, he sees her without her glasses on and just like that he is able to penetrate Amelia’s clever disguise. Tyler is more clever than Lois Lane.

Amelia decides to quit her extra job and turns Tyler down when he asks for a second date. So he starts dating her as Amelia, despite the horrific obstacle of her spinster aunts. Will the secretly sexy librarian and well-muscled farmer find lasting happiness together? Their fate is never in doubt, this is a harlequin manga after all. I did enjoy reading this more than the other romance novel featuring a librarian that I’ve read, Dewey Decimal System of Love. I think perhaps I find librarian stereotypes more amusing and less annoying if they are rendered manga style.

Access to electronic copy provided by the publisher.

Library Blog Landscape with bonus Naval Gazing

The new issue of Cites and Insights has an excerpt of the book But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009, click on over for the PDF if you enjoy reading some interesting number crunching about library blogs. I find it a little odd to be included in the project, just because I don’t tend to think of this as a “library blog” very much anymore. I’m at a point in my career where I don’t feel very much like blogging about the daily details of my library jobs. I’ve moved away from feeling affiliated with the library blogosphere.

While I do think that blogging about manga serves a very librarian-like function of readers advisory, there’s a bit of a disconnect between the folks who blog about library technology and trends and the people that blog about books and reading. It seems to me like the liblog hype and attention mostly seems to rest with the techie people, and while I very much am a techie person in my daily life I don’t feel like blogging about it anymore. I think most of my disaffected feeling with library blogging originated with all the Library 2.0 hoopla. I just got tired with the idea of following many online conversations about technology and libraries, even though I do stay as current as I can with the things I need to know for my jobs.

The people I’m most connected to online aren’t library bloggers, they’re the group of people that make up The Bureau Chiefs. FakeAPStylebook (book comes out Spring 2011!!!) has had the most attention and hype of anything I’ve ever been involved with online, and it has nothing to do with libraries. So while it is nice to be included in a study of library bloggers I’m now at the point where it feels a little odd to be listed among groups of library blogs.

Good Comics For Kids

Here at the Good Comics For Kids Panel!

It has quite the impressive handout listing resources.

Brigid introduces panelists, and her own blog Manga Blog, the morning newspaper of the manga blog world. She discovered that there was a lack of kids comics blogs and started one. Was approached after running the 9 months by School Library Journal.

Robin Brenner starts by asking about audience familiarity, who has 3 different graphic novel collections sorted by age. She’ll give a more general introduction to the format

There are different types of literacy, which can mean different things other than reading text. Think about visual literacy when dealing with comics. Words and pictures equally important. GNs often written at a higher vocabulary level than you might expect, this is a big advantage for young readers. Don’t think of GNs as only a gateway to reading books.

Age ratings are a huge concern for librarians when developing GN collections. Think about movie ratings.
History of comics ratings – comics companies not a big fan of ratings post comics code. They view the idea that comics are for kids as negative. Manga companies are rating their products.

Example: Del Rey manga ratings at back of book. Tokyopop has content indicators on their ratings system, developed with a librarian.

DC Comics has imprints instead of ratings. Marvel has very general age ratings which are often opaque. Marvel Adventures are reliably good for kids. Dark Horse has tons of ratings, very good with libraries.

Example: 300 rated for 16+

All ratings systems are different so keep in mind when building library collections. There are many totally unrated books that are very good too.

Manga – Always had more extensive rating system. Manga for preteens has dwindled recently. Manga is just as diverse as American comics in terms of age ranges.
Vendors are also trying to provide some resouces – look at BWI, Baker and Taylor, Common Sense Media

Eva Volin is next:

Make GNs their own browsing collection, not interfiled. Kids need to have their own graphic novel section that they can find easily. There are plenty of GNs in picture book form already, pull them and make them their own collection.

What to do when encountering resistance – Eva went into guerilla librarian mode with GN stickers, bypassed tech services dept and their labeling service. She used packing tape to strengthen books. Once circulation stats were up up, now tech processing on board. Kids read in the aisles in the library just like they do in bookstores. Sticker labels provide help to shelvers.

How to find graphic novels – use traditional review sources, vendors, catalogs, and bloggers. Also look at ALA lists like YALSA great graphic novels for teens. Or ask around, use WorldCat to see where other libraries are shelving. Keep in mid graphic novels are is a format not a genre.

Have a collection development policy!!!!

Circulation for kids GN collection is huge.

Recommended Titles:

Captain Raptor and the Moon Mystery – Dinosaurs in Space!
Adventures in Cartooning – Great for kids who are interested in drawing.
Cowa by Akira Toriyama – All the fart jokes, none of the controversial content of Dragonball. One volume! (I want to get this now)
Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute – Get Smart if secret agent was lunch lady. Sounds hilarious! Basic adventure stories with some mysteries.
Cardcaptor Sakura – Out of print, being republished by Dark Horse in omnibus editions. (yayyyyy!) Clamp is gateway manga for many female fans. Features fantastic outfits and romance.
Smile by Raina Telgemeier – Perfect for middle school students. Autobiography about having dental work in 9th grade. Speaks to trauma of middle school. Appeals to both boys and girls.

Now it is question time!!!!

Toon and Capstone have ebooks, is this a trend?

Archie comics is producing ebooks too. Look on Kindle for graphic novels. Longbox is supposed to be platform independent. Also look at sigikki.com and shonensunday.com from viz.

Should we put nonfiction graphic novels in with fiction GN collection?
Put them in same place for browsing, but shelve nonfiction by Dewey, fiction by title.
Or have nonfiction GNs interfiled with nonfiction books.
Put hybrids like Diary of a Wimpy Kid in with regular fiction. Frankie Pickle is another example of hybrid.

Comment on ebooks – Overdrive has a deal with Marvel and Tokyopop.
Keep in mind that Tokyopop’s ebooks are OEL only.
What material bumps content from one age range to another?

Brigid tries to avoid assigning her own ratings in favor of describing content.
Need explanation of ratings in reviews, knowing content of book most important.
Will note if there is nudity always.
Think of intended audience too. If there’s a teen book like the GN, GN belongs in teen GN collection.

Resources for ESL students? – Students will read almost anything, look at stuff from Capstone, for easy vocab for new English readers.

Adaptations of classics – Snow not a big fan but a couple publishers that are ok, Papercutz and Classical Comics, also Self Made Hero – manga Shakespeare has not so great art but their Sherlock Holmes adaptations are nice.

Need to booktalk titles?
If you put the GN collection someplace visible, kids will find it. Give your graphic novel collection a chance to find readers.

Question about nonsuperhero genres, what should they buy for kids wanting romance and horror?
MANGA!!! Also look at smaller publishers like Oni, Top Shelf, First Second.

GNs for book clubs?
Smile, Bone, Rapunzels Revenge was wildly successful. Look for Good Comics for Kids book club posts.

Yearly Manga awards?

Not so much in this county. Plenty of Manga awards in Japan. Cybils too.
Comment – Look for comic book award almanac online for source lists.

Is demand for manga leveling out?

Smaller manga publishers have shut down, publishers cutting back. effect of scanlations might be causing this. Things may be leveling out but core of teen manga readers will always be reading, more titles coming out for adults. You need to keep collecting it, and get new volumes in to maintain interest? Are you continually adding new series?
Think of manga collection like a periodical collection, use standing orders to get new volumes.

Is manga interfiled with bigger GNs – Shelved all together or short books all together depending on shelving design already in library.

Library Wars: Love and War Volume 1 – review and giveaway

I will start out by saying that I am an unabashed fan of the Library War franchise. What is there not to love about stories where librarians fight censorship with machine guns? In Japan there are the original Library War novels, the shoujo and seinen manga versions of the story, the anime, and random tchotkes. Shoujo Beat is bringing out the shoujo version of Library War and I hope it does well enough that we get some of the other types of merchandise released in the US.

In Japan the government has passed laws that have created rival military organizations. The Media Betterment Committee is tasked with control and censorship over all forms of media. The Library Defense Force fights for freedom of expression. Instead of battling censorship in the courtroom, fights over books involve plenty of guns. Going to library school is like going to boot camp. The heroine of Library Wars: Love and War is Iku Kasahara, a freakishly tall athletic girl who had a fateful encounter with a LDF officer when she was a child. He defended her right to read when a book she wanted was about to be confiscated and as a result she’s determined to join the defense force to become just like her ideal “prince”.

One of the things I like about Iku is that she has some of the traits traditionally assigned to male manga heroes. She’s a dumb jock who cares deeply about her job and tries to make up for her shortcomings by trying hard. Her companion in school is her roommate Asako Shibazaki who is enrolled in the more cerebral librarian track while Iku tries to master the physical capabilities necessary to become the first female member of the LDF. The only problem Iku has with her training is her drill instructor Atsushi Dojo. He seems to have singled her out for harsher treatment, or does he just have high expectations for her? He tends to get a strange expression on his face when Iku mentions her long-lost Prince and sometimes he seems strangely familiar to Iku. Iku is determined to antagonize Dojo whenever possible, as she drop kicks him in martial arts class only to find herself trapped in a sadistic headlock.

Iku struggles to attain her goal, foiling people who attempt to deface library property, mastering classification systems, and rappelling down a building. Her strength is her willpower. She loves reading and she’s passionate about defending books. As Iku is singled out to join the LDF she’s joined by another new recruit. Hikaru Tezuka is academically perfect and doesn’t understand why the other new rookie is an emotional mess whose main skills are height and being able to run really fast.

The art in Library Wars is serviceable generic shoujo. I don’t think I’d recognize the artist’s style if I were to read another one of her works, but I’m really reading Library Wars for the story and not the art. This manga gives me the warm fuzzies. Librarianship isn’t a very glamorous profession, and the media portrayals of librarianship don’t often extend beyond the image of a tired old spinster going “shush.” So seeing librarians dressed in uniforms and performing training exercises to become action heroes was enormously entertaining. Iku’s a somewhat familiar character type, but her tendency to never give up is admirable and inspires sympathy in the reader. Seeing her unconventional friendship develop with Dojo was fun. He clearly knows more about her than he’s letting on, and she’s gradually discovering that her merciless drill sergeant might have a soft side. This manga is a must read for anyone that loves books or libraries.

And because I love this manga so much I used some of my amazon referral money to buy an extra copy, and I’m going to give it away to share the Library Wars love. To enter, just leave a comment on this post mentioning what weapon you would use to fight censorship if you were a member of the Library Defense Force. I’ll randomly select a winner on June 10th. I think I would reclaim the metal rods inside library card catalogs and use them to poke the enemies of intellectual freedom full of holes.

Great Graphic Novels for Teens

I wanted to do a mini-round up of things related to the GGNT list.

Graphic Novel Reporter has a roundtable discussion explaining the history behind the list.

Over at Good Comics for Kids, a discussion of some of the titles that made it onto the list.

I was happy to see that the title I nominated, Ken Saito’s Name of the Flower, made it on to the final list. Librarians do use lists like these when making decisions about what books they should order for their library. So if you are a comics or manga fan and feel like advocating for one of your favorite titles and you think it has teen appeal, I encourage you to nominate it next year.