The common belief is that adults still don't or shouldn't read that stuff. How can we as librarians, work to ensure that we are able to serve adults who enjoy YA literature or graphic novels? Or should we?
There is no doubt that as librarians and book lovers we should encourage adults to read YA and graphic novels in they want to. There are two important steps to help serve adults in the YA genre and graphic novel format. The first is to not be judgmental. Adults can read any genre they chose. It is based on their own taste, not the age of the reader.
The young adult genre centers on stories about young adults characters. It does have plenty of books with similar fantasy and romance themes like the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer to real life issues from books like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. The YA genre, like other book genres, has many sub-genres, such as historical fiction, humor, horror, science fiction, mystery, etc. Sometimes YA stories have many sub-genres within the same story.
Graphic Novels and there readers can be stereotyped easily. This is wrong. The graphic novel format is a form of a written story told through words and images or a story told just through images. Some graphic novels like the ones written and illustrated by Lynd Ward from block prints tell entire stories without a single written word. His books, God's Man and Madman's Drum tell complex stories of love, hate, religion, life, death, government, industry, and society. Other graphic novels like Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns are very wordy. Since, graphic novels are a format and not a genre it can include stories about ALL genres and sub-genres. What makes someone want to read a graphic novel story is the same as a novel; it involves the six appeals of pacing, story line, characterization, frame/setting, tone/mood, and style language. However, with graphic novels is another very important appeal: art. The art style and story can separately make or break a graphic novel. For full enjoyment the story has to have the appeals the patron wants to read and the art style that is pleasing to them.
The second important step with helping serve adults in the YA and graphic novel format is to do your research. If YA, graphic novels, or any other genre or format is not part of your normal reading choices then as a librarian you will need to take time to learn about these different areas. There are many ways to learn about different areas outside of your own genres. You can read scholarly articles, read book reviews, talk with fellow librarians and books lovers about different types of books and possibly the most important way is to give other genres another chance. With so many sub-genres available you may find a niche that you did not know you like.